Cherokee National Prison (Part2)

On October 28, 1876, the Cherokee Advocate reported, "Our jail or penitentiary has one inmate - one Charles Clar, who was found guilty of resisting an officer while attempting to arrest Taylor Parris. The sentence is for five years."

A November 25, 1876 article said that the town was, "startled by the appearance of a cavalcade of 8 or 10 men following a wagon filled with people and proceeded by a pair of well dressed men who looked like officers. It turned out to be a number of prisoners from Delaware District on their way to jail. Half the town was soon at the heels of the party, curious to see the operation of imprisonment practically illustrated - a new thing with most of them. Standing at our window, we could see the prisoners handed over one by one, to disappear behind the stone walls and front doors, which had been erected such from abusing their liberty. We could not help thinking what folly must have possessed them in our favored country - favored beyond any on earth in respect of natural advantages - to violate laws so easy to observe. There were three criminals imprisoned this time, each for five years which increases our jail inmates to five."

The April 11, 1877 edition of the Cherokee Advocate reported, "Sixkiller . . . is having a wall put around the National Prison - solid boards, ten feet high, which encloses two acres of ground, and adds to the looks and safety of that institution muchly."

Well-built gallows in the enclosure were described several years later as "not the worse for wear, as the authorities inclined to be very merciful."

"The High Sheriff" in order to beautify and improve the appearance of the Capitol Square, has grubbed out all of the stumps and overgrowth which covered, to the disgust of the citizens, the entire square, and has placed in their stead, some beautiful shade trees, which is very suggestive to our enterprising citizens that they should do likewise, which would not only add to the appearance of the town, but would enhance the value of their property wonderfully." "Beautify your homes."

Of special note in the April 11th edition, an article reported, "Convict labor has been found by those of our citizens who have tried it, to be quite profitable - they work as well, if not better than those who are foot loose. They want to profit by their confinement they say, and had rather work than be idle - they are hired out at one dollar per day in National tickets."

The existence of a jail and the many newly established laws ran contrary to the thinking of some citizens more accustomed to old Cherokee traditions and practices.

On May 2, 1877 the newspaper reported, "The prisoners in our jail have a kind and intelligent but firm and resolute keeper and guard, and both the class of prisoners and the manner of their confinement is different from what it is in older countries where they have well defined criminal classes and the handling of them is more severe. Here, inducement to break the law by crimes against property are continued to persons who could not steal if they would --old and disabled men, widows and orphan children. There consequently ought to be no criminal class as a class at all here, nor do we think there is. There is no genuine temptati on to dishonesty offered to anyone who can work, f rom one year's end to another."

Info provided by the Cherokee Nation Cultural Resource Center cultural@cherokee.org