Published on February 18, 2013 by Casey
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 the American Baptist Churches USA.
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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 Rev. Dr. Robert J. Duncan, Jr., a United Methodist minister from Drew University.
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.
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 fifty-six 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, Oklahoma, 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 its 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, 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 over the years. Another reminder on the west side of the campus proper is a stone pulpit that marks the spot on which President Bacone and two Baptist missionaries who were also trustees of Indian University, Joseph Samuel Murrow and Daniel Rogers, knelt in prayer to dedicate to the Christian education of American Indians the 160 acres of land received from the Creek Indians.