Tahlequah is the shining jewel in the sparkling crown of the most wonderful part of Oklahoma -Green Country. The history of the Cherokees is a defining part of Tahlequah, with the first official Cherokee explorers arriving in 1809. There are many stories about the naming of Tahlequah, but many believe the name refers to a meeting arranged to select a site for the union western Cherokees and the newly arrived eastern Cherokees. Because of heavy rain, only two delegates arrived. According to the legend, the decision to settle on the present site came from the phrase Tah-le-ya-quah, meaning two is enough to decide.
The native Cherokee language on street signs and storefronts serves as a tangible link to the city’s roots.Designated as the capital of two tribes, the Cherokee Nation and United Keetoowah Band, Tahlequah suffered during the tragic Civil War years, but recovered rapidly to become a booming commerce center. Today, Tahlequah still retains the aura of progressiveness the first settlers possessed. Tahlequah has a small town atmosphere with a big city persona, brimming with activities, attractions and diversions to please almost everyone. Downtown shopping offers quaint and unique shops that reflect the flavor of the town’s early days, as well as stores and boutiques that offer the finest in clothing, elegant jewelry, collectibles, antiques, art and home decor. Tahlequah entertainment options can transport you to ancient times all the way to modern theatre.
Tahlequah is also home to Northeastern State University, which has historic Seminary Hall as its
centerpiece. Seminary Hall was built as the Cherokee National Female Seminary in the 1880s, and the university continues to use this beautifully restored treasure. A cornerstone of Tahlequah, Northeastern State provides the area with cultural and athletic events, continuing educational opportunities, and access to genealogical research collections specific to Native American and regional history. Northeastern State celebrated her Centennial in 2008 as one of Oklahoma’s leading higher educational facilities.
No trip to Tahlequah would be complete without a trip down the scenic Illinois River. Canoe, raft or kayak float trips are available at the river’s many commercial float operators located on State Highway 10 a few miles east of Tahlequah. Anglers enjoy fishing for one of the 70 different species of fish, including small-mouth bass, black bass and channel catfish.
The Illinois River cuts through the Cookson Hills to beautiful Tenkiller Lake, created in 1953 by the
construction of the Tenkiller Ferry Dam. Scuba diving, camping, boating, fishing and skiing are all part of the fun awaiting visitors to the beautiful blue waters of Tenkiller Lake. Below the dam on the Lower Illinois is one of only two year-round trout fishing streams in the state. Lake Tenkiller was named one of the top fishing spots by Field & Stream magazine in 2010.
We hope you experience Tahlequah’s unique blend of cultural, historic, recreational and educational opportunities and see why our visitors become our friends. In fact, we hope that you like Tahlequah so much, that you will consider moving here to our little part of the world. Whether you visit Tahlequah for a day or stay for a life time, you are always welcome.