The Cherokee National Prison was the only penitentiary building in the entire Indian Territory from 1875 to 1901. It housed sentenced and accused prisoners from throughout the territory.
It was built in 1875 and was created for the purpose of reformation as well as for punishment for offenders. The principal chief had the power to pardon condemned men, with the advice and consent of his executive council, but this was rarely exercised.
Built of sandstone rock, the penitentiary was, "made to hold the most hardened and dangerous prisoners." The Cherokee National Prison Museum offers a glimpse into the history of crime and punishment in the Cherokee Nation.
The museum includes replicated prison cells and gallows, as well as an interpretive center.