The restoration of Rural School 51 will be the third museum owned wholly by the Cherokee Nation.
By Teddye Snell
Both values were recognized Thursday, when the tribe broke ground on its latest restoration project: the John Ross Museum, formerly Rural School 51, near Ross Cemetery at Park Hill.
“It is an honor for me to recognize two very important values held by the Cherokee people,” said Smith. “That is the importance placed on education and the reverence we hold for our leaders. It’s these two concepts--education and leadership--that bring us together to break ground on the restoration of Rural School 51 and adaptation of the facility to host the John Ross Museum.”
Cherokees break ground to raise history
By Keith Purtell
“The schoolhouse gives us an opportunity to tell the phenomenal story of John Ross, who is buried a couple of hundred yards from here in the Ross Cemetery,” he said. “The lessons of his life, the trials and tribulations he led us through, is just phenomenal. He was in office for 38 1/2 years, and led the Cherokees during the removal and the Civil War. We’re looking forward to hundreds of school children and the general public coming here to learn.”
Smith said Ross provided stability and vision during a very difficult era and was a great advocate of education and diplomacy.
The museum will become part of the Cherokee Nation’s larger network of cultural tourism, he said.
“Our cultural tourism group is in the process of renovating other properties and creating these cultural sites,” he said. “This will help our local economy. This will be one building in our network of historic properties.”
Below: "Since it closed in the 1950s, Rural School 51 near Ross Cemetery has fallen into disrepair. The Cherokee Nation will restore the site to house the John Ross Museum." (Teddye Snell)