At the beginning of October I went back home for my sister’s wedding. I flew into Tulsa International airport got my rental car and preceded to head on the BA expressway toward Muskogee. On my drive I was thinking about how much I missed seeing the outer hills of the Ozark Plateau. I have traveled this route many times before for high school sporting events or going to Tulsa on a day trip. I suppose the thought of my sister getting married had me remembering the times we ran around in those hills.
Turnpike Troubadours said it best in their song Bird Hunters
“She said go on back to Cherokee County. You belong in these hills” since the band got its start in Tahlequah playing around green country and getting their name from all of the turnpikes they traversed to gigs. I grew up in Tahlequah and now 7 years later I finally understand what the older people I used to talk to about leaving Tahlequah meant when they said “One day you will find you miss this place”.
Tahlequah, Oklahoma has a couple of things that make it a famous town. Tahlequah is the capital of the Cherokee Nation after the Trail of Tears
removed the Cherokees from their home in the Southeastern United States. I’m Cherokee/Navajo and can tell you that the Cherokee nation was lucky because the area in and around Tahlequah does look like their home back in North Carolina. Wilson Rawls is from the Tahlequah area and when creating his book “Where the Red Fern Grows” he had Billy travel to Tahlequah to pick up the dogs he ordered. In 1992, David Letterman made Tahlequah one of his “Home offices”. Northeastern State University one of the oldest higher learning institutions west of the Mississippi calls Tahlequah home.
The wedding went off well and yes I did walk around the hills of Cherokee County. I do find myself day dreaming about my hometown and all the times I spent there. I took a drive before I left down old places I used to go to and hangout. I turned my rental car west and headed toward T-town (Tulsa) but before I did I looked back and said “donadagohvi”. There is no word for “goodbye” in Cherokee. Instead, we say “donadagohvi” which means, “'til we meet again”. If you ever find yourself in Tulsa and are looking for something to do a small town 60 miles east is a hidden jewel in the tree covered area of Eastern Oklahoma.
Jon is a masters student in the Sports Management program.