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Cherokee Nation formalizes acquisition of historic Dwight Mission

Photo Caption: Cherokee Nation officials joined representatives from Dwight Presbyterian Mission to formalize the acquisition of the historic Sequoyah County property. Officials are photographed in front of the 1917 schoolhouse, which was renovated in 2014 with vital support from Cherokee Nation. Front row: Preston Bobo, board vice president for Dwight Presbyterian Mission Inc., Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr., Deputy Principal Chief Bryan Warner. Back row: Secretary of State Tina Glory Jordan, Bill Wiles, board treasurer for Dwight Presbyterian Mission Inc., Charlie Smith, administrative officer for Indian Nations Presbytery, District 5 Tribal Councilor E.O. Smith, Chief of Staff Todd Enlow, and Cherokee Nation Delegate to Congress Kimberly Teehee.

Wednesday, June 23, 2021 - Cherokee Nation announced today the acquisition of Dwight Mission in Sequoyah County. The historic property has been utilized by Dwight Presbyterian Mission Inc. for camp and conference activities since the 1950s and includes more than 200 acres.

A private signing ceremony was held on site to formalize the transfer of ownership.

“Today is a great day for Cherokee Nation, as we further invest our time and resources in the preservation of the historic sites that have shaped our story as Cherokee,” said Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. “We appreciate all that the Presbyterian Church has done throughout the years as stewards of this property, and we look forward to the opportunity to continue to build on that legacy here in Sequoyah County.”

Discussions surrounding the acquisition began in late 2020, as tribal officials worked with the organization to develop a formal offer. The proposed agreement with Cherokee Nation was unanimously approved by the Dwight Mission board of directors at a meeting held Oct. 6. “Dwight Mission is a sacred place with deep historical and spiritual roots for both Cherokees and non-Cherokees alike,” said Bill Wiles, board member for Dwight Presbyterian Mission Inc. “We are pleased Cherokee Nation has made the commitment to acquire this property and perpetuate the legacies of Dwight Mission for future generations.”

Originally established in 1820 near Russellville, Arkansas, Dwight Mission was relocated in 1829 to Sequoyah County following the forced removal of Cherokees from Arkansas to Indian Territory.

It reopened in 1830 and operated until 1948, primarily serving as a school and ministry for Native American students. Now, the historic 86-acre parcel is being returned to the tribe, alongside the purchase of an additional 120 acres acquired by the mission over the years.

“Cherokee Nation and Dwight Mission have a shared interest in this property’s history and preservation. It is an important part of the Sequoyah County community and has historical and cultural significance for the Cherokee people,” said District 5 Cherokee Nation Tribal Councilor E.O. Smith. “I know we will continue to work together to preserve the legacy of this community treasure and identify a promising plan for its future.”

The Dwight Mission property will be further assessed for future use by the tribe through Cherokee Nation Businesses. Cherokee Nation hopes to ensure public access and continued ministry opportunities for the Presbyterian Church.

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