MUSKOGEE, OK – Bacone College and United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians in Oklahoma representatives convened April 18, 2019 at Benjamin Wacoche Hall in a historic meeting to formally announce the tribe’s decision to charter the educational institution as it applies for tribal college status.

“We are pleased and honored that the United Keetoowah Band has agreed to partner with us in this important step,” said Dr. Ferlin Clark, Bacone College president. “We are optimistic about the ways in which the UKB and Bacone College can work together to move the tribe and the college into the future.”

UKB’s decision to charter Bacone College, founded in 1880 as a private, Christian-Baptist affiliated college, is the institution’s first step in applying for approval as a public, Title I Tribal College with the American Indian Higher Education Consortium.

“It is an honor announcing our intended charter with Bacone College,” said Joe Bunch, United Keetoowah Band chief. “The inclusion of Bacone College will add to the partnerships we have developed with Florida State University and Northeastern State University to provide our tribal members the opportunity for a college degree. In return, we are honored to help Bacone move forward with its new vision to educate all Keetoowah and Indigenous people across the nation.”

UKB Tribal Councilors first voted unanimously to charter Bacone College on April 6 at their monthly meeting in Tahlequah. The tribe’s decision comes at a pivotal time for Bacone College, which nearly closed in May 2018 after financial concerns forced the removal of past administration.

Chartering with UKB means Bacone College and its new staff will have the support of a federally recognized tribe while the college moves towards different funding sources when tribal college status is granted.

“Tribal college status will provide the college with a stable base of federal income into the future,” said Jerome Steele, chief financial officer. “Along with support from the American Baptist Churches USA, the DAR, friends and alumni of the college, this revenue will supplement income from student tuition, room and board.”

Brittney Bennett, UKB Media Director
[email protected]


About Bacone College

Bacone College was founded in 1880 as Indian University. It is currently a private, four-year institution located in Muskogee, Oklahoma. It is currently the oldest continuously operated institution of higher education in the state. The college has historic ties to various tribal nations and American Baptist Churches USA. Its current president is Dr. Ferlin Clark of the Navajo (DÍne) Nation.

About the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians in Oklahoma

The United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians in Oklahoma are a sovereign nation headquartered in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. It is one of only three federally recognized Cherokee tribes in the United States. Tribal members total nearly 14,000 strong and must meet a blood quantum requirement of 1/4 Keetoowah Cherokee to be eligible for tribal membership.