Navigation Menu+

Cherokee and Chickasaw Students at Vanderbilt

Cherokee and Chickasaw Students at Vanderbilt, 1885-1899

From 1885 to 1899, twelve Cherokee and Chickasaw students attended Vanderbilt. Indian Removal policies were within the living memory of their parents and grandparents. Traveling the Trail of Tears in reverse, the students arrived at a new university built on ancestral territory. Never anonymous but fully engaged in campus life, they distinguished themselves in classrooms and on debating stages and playing fields. Eight became lawyers, shaping tribal affairs from Indian Territory to Washington, D.C. Together, Vanderbilt’s first indigenous scholars represent a bridge generation who sustained their nations through an era of forced assimilation.

View the exhibit online. A permanent exhibit will be placed in the Law Library.

Carla Beals
Oklahoma Historical Society Photograph Collection
Oklahoma Historical Society and the Gateway to Oklahoma History
Collection of Kathryn Parks Forbes
Tennessee State Library and Archives
Vanderbilt University Photographic Archives
[Vanderbilt’s Celebrated 1897 Football Team – James Burney McAlester (standing, fourth from left); J. Boudinot Ream (seated, third from left)]
Circa 1897. Reproduction
Vanderbilt University Special Collections 
Cherokee and Chickasaw Discussion
Seated left to right: Troy Wayne Poteete; Charles Tate; Dan Sharfstein
Photograph by John Amis
September 21, 2023
Cherokee and Chickasaw Discussion Program
Photograph by John Amis
September 21, 2023