Tahlequah Daily Press

Local News

April 11, 2013

Connecting to the past

TAHLEQUAH — When people think about 21st century technology - cellphones, “cloud” storage, tablets and social media - they generally think of the future, rather than connecting with the past.

“Technology Future, Technology Past: A Woven Link” is the theme for the 41st annual Symposium on the American Indian, which opened Wednesday at Northeastern State University.

The event is organized by NSU’s Center for Tribal Studies and the American Indian Heritage Committee. In collaboration with the Cherokee Heritage Center, this year’s event will highlight the 50th anniversary of the Cherokee National Historical Society.

NSU President Dr. Steve Turner, Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker and United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians in Oklahoma Chief George Wickliffe opened the event, and talked about how technology helps to preserve native language, culture and heritage.

“Tahlequah and the Cherokee Nation are so intertwined with NSU,” said Baker. “NSU began as the first institution of higher learning west of the Mississippi for women of any race, which was technology at the time.”

Baker said he remembered being a senior at NSU when the first symposium was held.

“At that time, we had one computer in the basement of the technology building and it took up the entire basement,” said Baker. “Today, my cell phone is faster and has more memory than that computer had. Our Cherokee children can now text using the Cherokee syllabary on their phones. With this technology and our partnerships with Google and Apple, we’re taking our language farther than ever before. In turn, we’re preserving our language, culture and heritage. Embracing technology will take us farther than we’ve ever been. Sequoyah’s syllabary was cutting-edge technology at the time, and we’re carrying that into the 21st century.”

The keynote speaker Wednesday was Charles “Chief” Boyd, Cherokee, the official architect for the Cherokee National Historical Society and CNHS board member.

Boyd designed what, in 1962, was known as the Cherokee Cultural Center, but found a passion for architecture in 1945.

“I was raised in West Texas, and spent summers in the mountains of New Mexico,” said Boyd. “I used to haul wood for an older man in New Mexico, and remember spending time laughing with him at the pictures he drew. That man was Al Capp, the cartoonist who created ‘Li’l Abner. Spending time with him developed my interest in drawing, and finally, architecture.”

In 1958, NSU didn’t offer a degree in architecture, and Boyd decided to attend the University of Colorado.

“In 1962, I began working on my thesis, which required getting someone to be my client,” said Boyd. “I contacted [CN Chief] W.W. Keeler. It was at that time Keeler and others had been talking about developing the Cherokee National Historical Society, so I asked if I could design a museum for the tribe.”

Keeler agreed, after a face-to-face meeting in Oklahoma, to be Boyd’s client, and put him in touch with Martin Hagerstrand – and the design for the ancient village began.

“Just to give you some perspective on technology in 1962, we used slide rules, there were no calculators, no computers and all [designs] were done by hand,” said Boyd. “The first project for the CNHS was a model of the Cherokee Cultural Center and original archives, which was a seven-sided structure to represent the seven clans. By 1966, we began work on the ancient village and the site for the archives and museum.”

“We constructed the village using all full-blood Cherokee workers,” said Boyd. “The only person who spoke English, I think, was the foreman. I gave them the illustrations and they built the structures directly from the drawings.”

In 1968, construction began on the amphitheater.

“That design, too, was hand-drawn,” said Boyd. “I researched Cherokee pottery and basketry and incorporated those design elements in the rain shelter and the roof. We wanted the theater to be used without sound equipment, which is why it has such a steep slope. It worked out well, as sound travels upward, and was modeled on the Greek theaters.”

By 1972, Boyd had moved to a cut-and-paste technology, and it was from these plans the Cherokee National Museum was developed.

In 1977, Boyd formed Graphcon Computer Co.

“This company has been sold several times, but some of the original employees still remain,” said Boyd. “They document and print designs for NASA. As Computer Assisted Drawing developed, I was approached by Beaver Log Homes who asked for our help. They could build a log structure faster than they could draw one. We took that on, and before long, we were designing 80 percent of the prefabricated log homes in the country. And I’m just an old boy from Tulsa.”

Boyd’s goal is to work with 100 tribes before retiring, and finds working with Indian nations exciting.

“I get blessed with the opportunity to study cultures,” said Boyd. “Native American tribes are very diverse and very fascinating. I enjoy designing projects that develop pride and a sense of ownership in what they do.”

Boyd has designed a number of casinos, although he is not a gamer.

“I’m not a gamer, but I know what gamers like to do,” said Boyd. “I’m excited about what gaming does for Indian tribes, as far as economic independence is concerned. Tribes get a lot of federal money, but they’re restricted on how they can use it. With gaming money, the tribes get to decide how to use the money.”

Boyd pointed out the Cherokees have always stressed the importance of education. He has three daughters, who have accumulated 13 degrees among them. His eldest daughter recently received a National Institute of Health grant - the largest of its kind to be used to study diabetes. His middle child is a helicopter nurse with degrees in heart surgery and heart trauma. His youngest daughter got her first two degrees in Russian and international relations, and finally became an attorney. She now works for the U.S. Department of Justice in Colorado, representing tribes in water rights and timber rights cases.

“Get your education, look to the future, and don’t set limits,” said Boyd.

Text Only
Local News
  • ths-jazz-2.jpg THS jazz band gets up early to hone performance skills

    It means getting up an hour earlier, and it doesn’t count as a class, but the jazz band at Tahlequah High School enjoys the dedication of a group of enthusiastic students.
    The THS Jazz Band practices every day at 7 a.m., an hour before the start of classes. It numbers 17, and is led by Director Orien Landis.
    “They have to do this before school and they get no class credit, but we have a full band,” Landis said. “They are really excited about this.”

    April 18, 2014 2 Photos

  • Easter-basket-kid.jpg Easter traditions date back centuries

    Some Christians may lament a partial shift of focus, but a Christian holy day - perhaps the most holy of all – is this Sunday, and it will be marked with celebrations all around the world.
    The Christian holiday of Easter celebrates the resurrection of Jesus. For centuries, the observant have fasted, reflected or done penance in the weeks leading to the holiday. But today, many also associate the holiday with the Easter bunny, candy, and kites. In 2013, Americans spent $2.1 billion on Easter candy.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Some oppose minimum wage hike; others decry strong-arming by state

    President Barack Obama and the U.S. Senate recently announced a push to raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 per hour, to $10.10. On the heels of the announcement, an initiative petition was introduced in Oklahoma City to raise the minimum wage to the suggested $10.10. If it gained 80,000 signatures, it would be put to a vote of the people.
    This legislative session, a bill passed prohibiting municipalities from setting a minimum was or vacation and sick-day requirements. Gov. Mary Fallin signed the bill into law earlier this week.

    April 18, 2014

  • Phone scam takes $500 from couple

    Authorities are warning Cherokee County residents to watch for a costly phone scam that recently targeted a local couple and ended in their loss of $500.
    According to sheriff’s deputies, a couple contacted authorities after losing $500 to the scam. The couple received a phone call from a man who identified himself only as “Mr. Green.” He told the couple they had won $1.5 million through Publisher’s Clearing House, but to collect the money, the couple would have to purchase a $500 money card to cover various fees.

    April 18, 2014

  • Missing local teen found dead

    The body of a missing 17-year-old boy was found in southern Cherokee County on Thursday, sheriff’s investigators said.
    Brikk Pritchett was reported missing earlier this month after disappearing on March 30, a day before his 17th birthday.

    April 18, 2014

  • ts honor flight 1.tif Flight of honor

    World War II veteran Charles Harra flew missions for the Army Air Corps, and if you ask him which flight was his most memorable, he’ll say it was his 35th mission.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Man charged after leading authorities on wild chase

    Prosecutors have formally charged a man who allegedly led authorities on a wild high-speed pursuit across Cherokee County in late March.

    April 17, 2014

  • Sex offender bonds out after failing to register

    A Cherokee County man is out on bond after being arrested last week for failing to register as a sex offender.

    April 17, 2014

  • jn radiator shop.jpg ‘Greenbelt’ progressing

    Crews this week began to demolish an abandoned radiator shop at the corner of South Street and Guinn Avenue.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • ts slut walk.tif SlutWalk shines spotlight on crime

    “Two, four, six, eight, stop the violence, stop the rape; slut, slut, ho, ho, yes means yes and no means no!”
    This was the battle cry across the campus of Northeastern State University, as the student branch of the American Association of University Women held its third annual SlutWalk Wednesday.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo


What to you think of a state Legislature proposal to forbid cities from raising the minimum wage? Choose the closest to your opinion.

The federal government should set the minimum wage across the board.
States should be allowed to raise their minimum wages, but not cities.
Both states and cities should be allowed to raise their minimum wages.
Cities should be allowed to raise their mimum wages, but not states.
There should be no minimum wage at all.
     View Results
Tahlequah Daily Press Twitter
Follow us on twitter
AP Video
Raw: Orthodox Christians Observe Easter Rite Ceremony Marks 19th Anniversary of OKC Bombing Raw: Four French Journalists Freed From Syria Raw: Massive 7.2 Earthquake Rocks Mexico Captain of Sunken SKorean Ferry Arrested Raw: Fire Destroys 3 N.J. Beachfront Homes Raw: Pope Presides Over Good Friday Mass Raw: Space X Launches to Space Station Superheroes Descend on Capitol Mall Man Charged in Kansas City Highway Shootings Obama Awards Navy Football Trophy Anti-semitic Leaflets Posted in Eastern Ukraine Raw: Magnitude-7.2 Earthquake Shakes Mexico City Ceremony at MIT Remembers One of Boston's Finest Raw: Students Hurt in Colo. School Bus Crash Raw: Church Tries for Record With Chalk Jesus Raw: Faithful Celebrate Good Friday Worldwide Deadly Avalanche Sweeps Slopes of Mount Everest Police Arrest Suspect in Highway Shootings Drought Concerns May Hurt Lake Tourism