Bacone College

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Bacone College
Bacone college logo.png
Motto A Place of Value & Opportunity
Established 1880
Religious affiliation
American Baptist Churches USA
President Franklin K. Willis
Students 900
Location Muskogee, Oklahoma, U.S.
Campus Suburban
Colors Red and White
Athletics NAIASooner Athletic Conference
Nickname Warriors
Bacone College logo.png

Bacone College is a private four-year liberal arts college in Muskogee, Oklahoma, United States. Founded in 1880 as the Indian University by Almon C. Bacone, Bacone College is the oldest continuously operated institution of higher education in Oklahoma. The college has strong historic ties to various tribal nations, including the Cherokee Nation and the Muscogee (Creek) Nation, and also to the American Baptist Churches USA.

Bacone College is a member of the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, the Oklahoma Independent College Foundation and Universities, the Joint Review Commission for Radiography Education, the National League for Nursing, the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics, and an affiliate member of the Oklahoma Association of Colleges for Teacher Education. Its current president is Franklin K. Willis, a graduate of Harvard, Michigan Law School and former Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy and International Affairs.


Rockefeller Hall, ca. 1910

The college traces its origins to a request to the American Baptist Home Mission Society by Professor Almon C. Bacone, a missionary teacher, to start a school in the Cherokee Baptist Mission at Tahlequah, Indian Territory. Bacone had previously taught at the Cherokee Male Seminary established in Indian Territory.[1]

According to writer John Bartlett Meserve, Bacone College had its origins in a Baptist Mission school at Valley Town in North Carolina. That school became noted because of the work of Evan Jones, one of the earliest missionaries to the Cherokee. After most of the Cherokee were removed to Indian Territory, the Valley Town school moved to a site near what developed as the present town of Westville. In 1867, Evan Jones' son, John B. Jones, moved the school to Talequah. The mission school moved to Muskogee in 1885 and changed its name to Bacone.[2]

When he started Bacone College, Professor Bacone, the sole faculty, enrolled three students. By the end of the first semester, there were 12. By the end of the first year, the student population was 56 and the faculty numbered three.

Seeing the need to expand, he appealed to the Muscogee Creek Nation's Tribal Council for 160 acres (0.65 km2) of land in nearby Muskogee, known then as the "Indian Capital of the World." The land was granted, and in 1885 Indian University was moved to its present site. In 1910, it was renamed Bacone Indian University after its founder and first president. The Board of Trustees later changed the name to the current Bacone College, as it emphasizes undergraduate education.

The campus contains many reminders of Bacone's history, tradition, and goals. One of these is a small cemetery, where Bacone presidents Almon C. Bacone (1880–1896) and Benjamin D. Weeks (1918–1941) were buried, as well as others associated with the school over the years. On the west side of the campus is a stone pulpit marking the spot where Bacone, Joseph Samuel Murrow and Daniel Rogers, two Baptist missionaries who were also trustees of Indian University, knelt in prayer to dedicate the land received from the Creek to the Christian education of American Indians.


Ataloa Lodge, art museum on campus

One of the first buildings to be erected was Rockefeller Hall, a three-story building made possible by a $10,000 contribution from John D. Rockefeller. "Old Rock," as it came to be called, served as classroom, dormitory, dining hall, chapel, teacher quarters and administration building. It was razed in 1938 and a Memorial Chapel was built in its place. That was destroyed by fire but rebuilt in the 1990s. The historic buildings of the campus were listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2014.

The campus contains many other reminders of Bacone's history, tradition, and goals. One of these is a small cemetery, the final resting place of Bacone presidents Almon C. Bacone (1880–1896) and Benjamin D. Weeks (1918–1941), as well as others associated with the school. A "stone bible" sculpture marks the spot on which President Bacone and Joseph Samuel Murrow and Daniel Rogers, two Baptist missionaries and trustees, knelt in prayer to dedicate the college. The names of all the college's presidents are inscribed on its surface.

Other structures on campus include The Indian Room at the Bacone College Library, which is the home of many of Almon C. Bacone original papers; the Ataloa Lodge Museum,[3] which has an impressive Native American art collection; and the McCombs Gallery, which features a large cross-section of Native American art. This includes artwork by alumnus, former director, and professor emeritus Richard "Dick" West (Cheyenne), an artist best known for his traditional Plains-style artwork, and Woody Crumbo, the only American Indian to receive the Julius Rosenwald Fellowship. Collectively, the traditional, flat-style painting movement developed by Blue Eagle, Crumbo, West, and others is known as the Bacone school.

In 2011 Bacone acquired the Northpointe Shopping Center. Renamed the Bacone Commons, it houses important offices including the Campus library.


Bacone College has three centers associated with the institution to help full fill the historical mission of the college.

Center for American Indians:

  • Preservation of the American Indian Collections at Bacone College.
  • Coordination of American Indian degrees and cultural programs.
  • Research related to the future of American Indian education and collections in higher education.

Center for Christian Ministry:

  • The broad umbrella for spiritual life on campus that helps the College to fulfill its mission as a four-year liberal arts college affiliated with the American Baptist Churches.

Center for Church Relations:

  • As the churches support the college with students and scholarships, the center serves the churches by sending new leaders into the harvest field, providing training to non-traditional learners through online and off-campus education, assisting churches in their growth, providing music and preaching/teaching ministry to the churches for special events, and continuing education for church leaders.


Bacone College teams, nicknamed athletically as the Warriors, are part of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), primarily competing in the Sooner Athletic Conference (RRAC), while its football team competes in the Central States Football League (CSFL). Men's sports include baseball, basketball, cross country, football, soccer, rodeo, track & field and wrestling; while women's sports include basketball, cross country, golf, soccer, softball, rodeo, track & field and volleyball.

Notable administration and staff[edit]

Notable faculty[edit]

Notable alumni[edit]

Coach James Peters- Former National Football Coach of Nigeria acted as the Student assistant of the Bacone Men's and Women's soccer teams under Matt Howe and Derrick Larken. Career Highlights:1984 African Nations Cup Silver Medal as the Asst. coach of Nigeria, Head Coach U23 National Team Bronze Medal All Africa Games, 1996-1997 qualified senior National Nigerian team as the assistant coach for France 98 World Cup, etc. Present CAF Coaching Instructor for all of Africa.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Thornton, Russell, ed. Studying Native America: Problems and Prospects. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1999: 84. (retrieved through Google Books, 30 August 2009) ISBN 978-0-299-16064-7.
  2. ^ Meserve, John Bartlett. "Chief Lewis Downing and Chief Charles Thompson (Oochalata). In: Chronicles of Oklahoma> Volume 16, Number 3. September 1938. Retrieved July 19, 2013.
  3. ^ Ataloa Lodge Museum
  4. ^ Hunt, David C. Acee Blue Eagle (1909-1959). Oklahoma Historical Society's Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture. (retrieved 30 August 2009)
  5. ^ Hunt, David C. Crumbo, Woodrow Wilson (1912-1989). Oklahoma Historical Society's Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture. (retrieved 30 August 2009)
  6. ^ "Daniel Roberts UFC". 

Further reading[edit]

  • Lisa K. Neuman, Indian Play: Indigenous Identities at Bacone College. Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press, 2013.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 35°46′37″N 95°20′05″W / 35.77694°N 95.33472°W / 35.77694; -95.33472