About Tahlequah

Tahlequah is located in the "Lakes Country" of Northeastern Oklahoma in Cherokee County, with a population of 16,301 according to the 2020 census. The City of Tahlequah is the oldest municipality in Oklahoma by virtue of an incorporation act by the Cherokee National Council of 1843, more than half a century before Oklahoma gained statehood. The City of Tahlequah adopted its Charter on June 18, 1940.

Tahlequah has the distinction of being the capital of both The Cherokee Nation and The United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians.


Tahlequah is unique in its location, centered in the midst of the Illinois River Valley, with Lake Tenkiller and Lake Fort Gibson close by to provide unlimited recreation and beautiful scenery for the enjoyment of our citizens as well as the many tourists and travelers who pass our way.


The name, according to legend, derives from the Cherokee word "Ta'ligwu" meaning "just two," or "two is enough." The "two" refers to a meeting between elders that presumably took place shortly after the Trail of Tears. Three tribal elders had planned to meet to determine the location of the Cherokee Nation's permanent capital. Two elders arrived and waited for the third. As dusk approached, they decided that "two is enough."

A more likely origin for the name is that it is named for an ancient eastern Cherokee town of Great Tellico, the English spelling of Cherokee Talikwa, the meaning of which is lost, according to James Mooney, although some trace it to the word tel-i-quah which is interpreted as "plains."

Local Amenities

Northeastern State University and the Headquarters of the Cherokee Nation are also located here and are great assets to our area, providing many job opportunities. The natural beauty and rich heritage of this part of the country are unsurpassed.

City Council

The City Council is comprised of the Mayor, elected at large, and four Councilors who are elected from the individual wards. The Street Commissioner, City Clerk, and Chief of Police are also elected, as well as the City Treasurer. Other officials are appointed and approved by the Mayor and Council.

Local Work Force

The City of Tahlequah presently has a total workforce of one hundred and eighty-eight positions which include nine elected officials, one hundred thirty full-time positions, twenty-nine part-time positions, and twenty volunteer firefighters.

Sales Tax

The State levies a 4.5% tax rate, Cherokee County levies a 1.75% tax rate, and the City has a tax rate of 3.25% on sales. The total Sales Tax for Tahlequah is 9.5%

3.25% City Tax Breakdown: 

2% General Fund

.75% Rest Sales Tax Fund II (2013 Bond)

.5% Streets & Sidewalks Fund