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MoH exhibit to feature Claremore Cherokee women

Mar. 9—Claremore's Museum of History has received a $20,000 matching grant from the Oklahoma Historical Society. It is the seventh major grant the museum has won since its establishment in 2011.

This grant will bring the 125-year history of Claremore's Indian Women's Pocahontas Club to the public.

Steve Robinson, lead member of the museum's board of directors, said the new exhibit will showcase the extensive history and accomplishments of the club's membership along with historical memorabilia from their earliest days in Claremore.

"This will be the opportunity to show the women of the Pocahontas club of Claremore an acknowledgement of their history that they continue to grow every year," Robinson said.

The group will be recognized in June at the MoH's History Weavers Gala at the Hard Rock Casino. IWPC President Monte Ewing and Ollie Starr, executive director of the nonprofit arm of the organization, will accept the award on behalf of the club's membership.

The IWPC maintains a membership of Cherokee women nationwide and is the longest continuous women's organization known in the state. There are two criteria for becoming a member: Be a documented Cherokee per the Dawes rolls and a woman. However, records show the organization has made some exemptions to the later requirement in the early years, specifically Will Rogers. Rogers who was a childhood friend of many of the founders and, according to historical club records, joined them on occasion in their dances, club meetings and other activities.

IWPC began in 1899, the end of a significant century for the Cherokee people. Now in the third century of its existence, club members continue to bring focus to and programs that identify, preserve and promote Cherokee history, heritage, culture and the language among 21st century Cherokee women and families.

The MoH exhibit will acknowledge that history and will be a show "gratitude for their work on reviving and keeping the history of this state alive," Robinson said.

Naming of the Pocahontas Club by the original founders recognized the bravery and sacrifice of the early 17th Century Powhatan woman who, like the first Pocahontas Club members, met the challenges of living in a changing world as now documented by the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian. In less than 10 years after the club was formed, the Cherokee Female Seminary where the founders had all attended school in Tahlequah was closed and reopened under the auspices of a new State of Oklahoma. The Cooweescoowee District of the Cherokee Reservation in Indian Territory was disassembled and a new Rogers County was created.

The grant will provide the money for the MoH board to purchase artifacts, signage, acrylic shelves, electricity and other necessary display materials as well as the funds to hire the necessary skilled workers to oversee the construction and development of the entire display.

The final premier of the new IWPC exhibit will be on November the 5. This will tie in with the annual Will Rogers Birthday celebration in Claremore which features the Pocahontas Club's traditional laying of the wreath on Saturday morning at the Will Rogers Memorial. Activities will continue at the MoH where an unveiling of the exhibit will take place at the MoH on Sunday.

The MOH, located at 121 North Weenonah Ave., is open seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

MoH directors and staff provide hosting services for parties, class reunions and members-only get togethers three times a year. A special flower presentation by Bailey Robinson of Crooked Roots along with a special speaker who will talk about cameras and video cameras of the past 50 years is on this year's schedule. The group just completed a Star Gazers event with over 200 people coming to the museum and grounds with their telescopes and looking instruments checking out the stars and heavenly constellations that can be seen from Claremore.

Learn more at moh.org or call 918-923-6490.