Sunday, June 5, 2011


Mural in Vian
As I said in my last post we've been to Oklahoma to visit my sisters.  They live in Vian, a really small town, population a bit over 800, on the eastern border of Oklahoma.  It's a fairly old little town having been around since the 1880's when it was in Indian Territory, Oklahoma did not become a state until 1907, which means both my Grandparents were born in Indian Territory.
Vian is about 36 miles from Tahlequah the capitol of the Cherokee nation and many of the residents of Vian are tribal members,  as is my family.
The Cherokees were forcibly removed from the eastern United States (Georgia mainly)  in  1838 an event that became known as the Trail of Tears because so many of the tribe died along the way.   They were settled onto land in what is now Oklahoma and the eastern portion of the state remains Indian Territory.
Close-up of Mural, My Grandfather is the one in the white hat
The Cherokees are the only American Indians with a written language, it's  called a syllabary.   It was developed by Sequoyah who had been fascinated with how the "whites" were able to communicate by making marks on paper.  He worked for nearly 30 years to develop the system of 86 symbols that represent sounds in the Cherokee language. He was born in Tennessee, moved to Arkansas in the early 1800's and eventually to Oklahoma.   His cabin is about 20 miles from Vian, we've visited it before, but didn't make it over there this trip.
Vian itself has remained what we call " a one horse town", it has one grocery store, a bank,  a post office,  several gas stations and "antique" stores.  Everybody literally knows everybody and quite likely are related in some way.
On some of the old buildings local college students have painted murals that show some of Vian's history.  My Grandfather Richard Kennedy is in one of the murals so I took some pictures.
I can remember visiting Vian as a child and still seeing horse drawn wagons coming into town.  My Grandparents lived outside of town and did not get running water or electricity till I was grown.  When I was a child they had a well, we took baths in a tub and visited the outhouse to go to the restroom.  They had an ice box and lights were kerosene lanterns.  It was a very different world, but both my Grandparents lived to their 90's and none of their children reached that age, so maybe living simply is a better way of life.

Where we ate a tribal restaurant in  Tahlehquah

All signs in Tahlequah are in English and Cherokee

Cherokee Alphabet


  1. Really interesting history, both of the area and of your family.

  2. Interesting post, Vian must be an fascinating place to visit small though it is. I've been interested in the First Nations for some years but know a little more about the East coast tribes as that's the area I visit. I do know of the Trail of Tears though and I'm sure there's a book about it so I must get hold of a copy and read it.

  3. Rowan, the Cherokees have a web site full of interesting information about the tribe and its activities that you might enjoy.


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