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Marie Wadley

mary wadley criner, marie wadley
Marie L Wadley December 16, 1906 – September 23, 2009 was an American co-founder of the Five Civilized Tribes Museum in Muskogee, Oklahoma Wadley became the museum's first president after its opening


  • 1 Early life
  • 2 Career
    • 21 Museum
  • 3 Later life
  • 4 References

Early life

Marie Wadley was born in Pensacola, Indian Territory, on December 16, 1906, less than a year before the territory became the US state of Oklahoma in 1907

Wadley was of both Cherokee and Shawnee descent She was raised on a farm near Vinita, Oklahoma In 1923, Wadley moved to Muskogee to enroll at Draughon Business College


Wadley took the civil service exam and in 1925 she was hired for her first, and "only" job as a staff member with the Bureau of Indian Affairs BIA She was initially hired as a clerk stenographer Years later, Wadley, who championed Native American causes throughout her life, spoke of her experience with the BIA,

I got a job for $95 a month That was more than anything then I thought I was rich I found a job with the US Government and worked there for 42 years I started as a clerk stenographer, and I just worked real hard every dayI worked with the Indian people out in the community I worked with families, went into their homes, reported their needs The work gave me opportunity to visit in Washington, DC, and learn It took me to Mississippi to the Choctaws and the Seminoles of Florida

Wadley, as an employee of the Bureau of Indian Affairs BIA, worked to get a bill introduced into the US Congress in the 1950s aimed at establishing a Native American museum in the Union Agency building in Muskogee, Oklahoma The Union Agency building had been constructed by the Bureau of Indian Affairs in 1875

In 1951, Wadley began working with then US Representative David Boren D-Oklahoma to transfer ownership of the Union Agency building, as well as five acres of land surrounding the site, from the federal government to the city of Muskogee with the purpose of establishing the museum US President Dwight Eisenhower signed the bill into law in 1953, returning the Union Agency and the five acres back to local control

Wadley worked with local political and community figures to plan new museum over the next thirteen years She wanted a historically accurate museum which would correctly depict and display the local Native American culture of eastern Oklahoma


The Five Civilized Tribes Museum, which showcases the history, culture and art of the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek and Seminole Native American tribes, officially opened on April 16, 1966 Wadley became the first president of the new museum's board of directors

Later life

Wadley retired from the Bureau of Indian Affairs in 1967, after a 42-year career with the agency She was a tribal relations officer at the time of her retirement

Marie Wadley died at her home in Muskogee, Oklahoma, on September 23, 2009, at the age of 102 Her funeral was held at the St Paul Methodist Church in Muskogee


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Co-founder of tribal museum dies at 102" Associated Press Tulsa World 2009-09-24 Retrieved 2009-09-29 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m "Co-founder of museum dies" Muskogee Daily Phoenix 2009-09-24 Archived from the original on 2013-01-04 Retrieved 2009-09-30 

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