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Traveling exhibit at Stilwell Public Library celebrates Ned Christie’s storied life
Ned Christie, one of the Territory's most dangerous outlaw, fought the United States marshals for years before he was slain. In one clash wiht Heck Thomas, Heck shot away the bridge of Christie's nose and shot out his left eye.
Cherokee statesman Ned Christie would have been 154 years old today. The celebration of his life is shadowed, however, by controversy and misunderstanding. To further promote discussion and education regarding this legendary Cherokee Nation citizen, the Ned Christie traveling exhibit is now on display through Jan. 7 at the Stilwell Public Library located at 5 North 6th Street, Stilwell, OK.
The five-panel exhibit presents a biography of Ned Christie, legal jurisdictional battles faced by the Cherokee Nation, details regarding the 1887 murder of marshal Dan Maples and national media attention occuring over a five-year period.
“A key component of the cultural tourism program is education and through exhibits like this we’re able to share the Cherokee story,” said Molly Jarvis, Vice President of Cultural Tourism at Cherokee Nation Entertainment. “Ned Christie is a prominent figure in Cherokee Nation history. His trials and tribulations must continue to be discussed to promote a better understanding of justice and the truth surrounding his life’s experiences.”
Ned Christie was assassinated on Nov. 3, 1892, after a five-year standoff with the federal government following the allegation of murder of Daniel Maples in May 1887. Christie was denied the right to a trial in the Cherokee courts due to the federal government’s intervention because the crime involved a United States citizen and on-duty marshal.
He was bound to the jurisdiction of the United States Court for the Western District of Arkansas in Fort Smith, Ark., which had oversight of Indian Territory under Judge Isaac C. Parker. Refusing to stand trial in a “white man’s court,” Christie elected to remain at large. In 1918, twenty-six years after his assassination, an individual who was also at the scene on the night of Maples’ murder exonerated Christie for the crime with testimony of the facts and the naming of the true killer.
More than a century has passed and controversy continues to surround the events leading to and the assassination of Christie. Despite the fact he was a well-respected Cherokee councilor and was never convicted in United States or Indian courts for any crime, many historians continue to portray Christie as an outlaw and murderer of a deputy marshal.
“Controversy and misunderstanding continue to plague Ned Christie more than 100 years after his death,” added Jarvis. “This is the primary reason why we must continue to share his story as well as the stories of the Cherokee Nation.”
Christie was born on Dec. 14, 1852, in the Goingsnake District of the Cherokee Nation. He was the second child and first-born son of Trail of Tears survivors, Watt and Lydia Christie. He was a blacksmith and gunsmith by trade, and in 1885 was elected to the Cherokee National Council under the administration of Principal Chief Dennis Bushyhead. During his time on the council, Christie became well known for his intense speeches promoting tribal sovereignty for the Cherokee Nation.
The Ned Christie Exhibit at the Stilwell Public Library is open Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-5:30 p.m.; Saturday, 9 a.m.-1 p.m. The library will be closed Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. For additional library information, please call (918) 696-7512.
Cherokee Nation Cultural Tourism is sponsoring the Ned Christie Exhibit and also offers a wide array of special events and four historically authentic cultural tours.
For information on the Cherokee Nation Cultural Tourism program, call (877) 779-6977 or visit http://www.CherokeeTourismOK.com.