Cherokee Orphan Asylum was first opened in March of 1872, the Cherokee National
Council had some very important decisions to make. What should they name
the school? Who is going to run the school and be employed to teach in
discuss the name of the school:
because this school was started and operated by the Cherokee tribe and only
Cherokee orphans were to be enrolled in the school. There were other
orphans in the Cherokee Nation at that time but if they were not Cherokee
citizens, they were not allowed to enroll. Several non-Cherokees tried
and were denied.
pretty straight forward, “A child who has lost both parents through
death, or, less commonly, one parent.” If you were someone in this
situation, which occurred to many children after the Civil War, you met this
you know the true definition of the word asylum, it makes more sense. Dictionary.com
defines asylum as: “(noun) an institution for the maintenance and care of the
mentally ill, orphans, or other persons requiring specialized assistance.”
An asylum is a place of refuge; place to be taken care of until you are
able to take care of yourself. As an orphan, you needed such a place to
take care of you until you reached the point of being able to care for your own
Orphan Asylum, an institution to take care of the physical, educational and
emotional needs of children who were Cherokee citizens, who had been orphaned
and could not take care of themselves. At this institution you would be
cared for, education and prepared for the rest of your life.
should run the school and teach there. For the many years after the
school was opened, the Cherokee Board of Education appointed a Superintendent,
a Principal Teacher and three to five Assistant Teachers. They also
employed others to help with the feeding and taking care of the students
outside of school hours.
Two of the
early Principal Teachers went on to very important positions after their time
teaching at the Cherokee Orphan Asylum. One Principal Teacher went on to
become the very first Senator from Oklahoma when Oklahoma became a state in
1907. He remained a U.S. Senator from 1907 until 1925. Later he
even made a run for President of the United States and received some votes at
the Democratic National Convention before dropping out of the race.
Principal Teacher taught at the Cherokee Orphan Asylum after graduating from
the Cherokee Male Seminary. Later, he went on to be elected to the U.S.
House of Representatives from the 2nd Congressional District in Oklahoma from
1915 to 1921 and again from 1923 to 1935. Most Native Americans around this
area still know his name even though they may now know his background.
Who are these two
former Principal Teachers? If you look on the Internet for a “List of
United States Senators from Oklahoma” and a “List of United States
Representatives from Oklahoma” you will be able to find out who these two very
important men were.
Robert L. Owen – U.S. Senator
W.W. Hastings – U.S. Representative