Cherokee Heritage Center

The Center consists of a living history Cherokee village, a museum, and small township of historical buildings. Dedicated to the perservation of Cherokee culture and history, it is one of the most widely visited Native American sites in Oklahoma.

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Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Keeping Cherokee Heritage Alive

The motivation to keep Cherokee heritage alive is what Dr. Lynda Dee Dixon is all about. She was born and reared in Oklahoma. Her Cherokee family worked hard to keep their traditions alive. Dixon said that growing up she didn’t exactly know she was practicing Cherokee rituals, she just knew her family was a little different from the rest.

Mrs. Dixon, now a professor of Interpersonal Communication at Bowling Green State University, is now conducting research for her book, “Oklahoma Cherokees in the Twenty-First Century: The Relationship of Language and Culture."

“I believe this study will benefit us as Cherokees by showing our Nation’s leaders what our language means to us,” said Dixon

Dixon said that while her family tried to maintain Cherokee traditions she had difficulty distinguishing which were Cherokee andwhich were just her individual family traditions. Dixon decided to do research on other Cherokees to see if speaking the Cherokee language is a significant part of identification with the culture.

Previous research has been conducted on the health and aging of Cherokee women in modern Cherokee culture. Dixon's goal is to combine previous research with Tahlequah interviews for her upcoming book on the subject.

Dixon wants to examine the quality of Cherokee life and determine how Cherokees identify themselves. Her research suggests that Cherokee-speaking Cherokees are not the only ones that identify themselves with the Cherokee culture.

The interviews conducted by Ms. Dixon include a collection of questions that include: How much do you use the Cherokee language and is it important to your self-identification as a Cherokee? What do you want other tribes or non-Native Americans to know about being Cherokee?

While at the Cherokee Heritage Center she interviewed Roy Hamilton, a Cherokee and volunteer genealogist.

"While conducting the interview she encouraged me to open up about the atmosphere of growing up Cherokee. It’s good she is doing this research. I think she will get a lot of diverse feedback. I can’t wait till the research is done so I can read it,” said Hamilton.

“I hope the book will be important to see how people live their lives as Cherokees,” said Dixon.

For more information call Cherokee Heritage Center, (918) 456-6007 or toll free 1-888-999-6007. Posted by Andrea Butler, communications intern from NSU

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