NSU's Heritage

As you enter Northeastern State University’s Tahlequah campus, the paved walkway leading from Muskogee Avenue will take you on a path that embodies the history and heritage of NSU. From the bronze sculpture of Sequoyah, noted 19th century Cherokee diplomat and creator of the Cherokee syllabary, to the clock tower on Seminary Hall that is a symbol of this institution, you will participate in a very unique experience.

Back in 1846, Northeastern State University was founded as the Cherokee National Female Seminary. This historic link to the Cherokee Nation and Indian Territory make Northeastern the oldest institution of higher learning in Oklahoma. The original Seminary was built in Park Hill south of Tahlequah and destroyed by fire on Easter Sunday 1887. On May 7, 1889, the Cherokee National Female Seminary was dedicated north of Tahlequah, where it would continue to provide learning opportunities for young women for 20 years. Seminary Hall is now the historic centerpiece of Northeastern State, and each year on May 7, Descendants of Seminarians gather to observe Seminaries Homecoming in honor of our first students.

Our history as a state institution began on March 6, 1909, when the Oklahoma legislature purchased the Female Seminary and created Northeastern State Normal School, where the first classes were held on September 14, 1909. A decade later, NSNS transformed into Northeastern State Teacher’s College, offering a four-year curriculum leading to a bachelor’s degree. The Oklahoma legislature authorized changing the name of NSTC to Northeastern State College in 1939. We became officially known as Northeastern State University in 1985.

In celebration of 100 years as a state institution, and in tribute to Northeastern’s shared heritage with the Cherokee Nation, Founders Day activities were held on March 6, 2009. The historic occasion was marked by the unveiling of the Sequoyah statue and dedication of Centennial Plaza.

Today we are Oklahoma’s fourth-largest public four-year institution and one of six regional institutions governed by the Regional University System of Oklahoma board. The university serves a learning hub in northeastern Oklahoma formed by three campuses – the main campus in Tahlequah and branch campuses in Muskogee and Broken Arrow – which together serve nearly 9,000 students annually.