Dreams of a School: Professor Bacone Starts Bacone College

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Dreams of a School: Professor Bacone Starts Bacone College

Bacone College is Oklahoma’s oldest continuing center of higher education and began in 1880. With the help of the American Baptist Home Mission Society, Professor Almon C. Bacone, a missionary teacher, started a school in the Cherokee Baptist Mission at Tahlequah, Indian Territory. The only faculty member, Professor Bacone, enrolled three students and began his work. By the end of the first semester, the student body had quadrupled; by the end of the first year, student population was fifty-six and the faculty numbered three.

Seeing the need to expand, an appeal was made to the Creek Tribal Council for 160 acres of land in Muskogee, 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 and the name was later changed to Bacone College.

Professor Bacone dreamed of a school, based on Christian principles, for the education of American Indians. The college has retained its Christian heritage, but is not reserved strictly for American Indians. Its Mission Statement calls for meeting the “needs of American Indians in a multicultural setting.” All students, regardless of race, color, national origin, sex, age or religion are welcomed and encouraged to attend Bacone College. Bacone attempts to prepare students to function in the mainstream of society, without losing their culture and heritage.

A recent award from the Matthew 25 Grant is helping students such as Taylor, an enrolled member of the Pawnee Nation. He is in his second year at Bacone and is receiving the American Indian Learning Work Community scholarship. Taylor loves to attend home football and basketball games.  While there are many benefits to Bacone College, Taylor enjoys the small college atmosphere and the individual attention students receive. Taylor is happy with his decision to attend Bacone College and is very appreciative of the education and lifelong friendships he has made.

Today the College offers an opportunity for reflection upon how we, of all races and ethnic backgrounds, can live, study, work and worship together in order to strive not only for a meaningful educational experience, but for a society committed to Christian values and principles.

The Matthew 25 Grant, sponsored by ABCUSA, is funded by a generous donor whose goal is to help meet the needs of “housing, feeding, education and health with regard to the less fortunate.”  Awards for the Matthew 25 grant are made twice a year, in April and October, with application deadlines of March 1 and September 1.  To view the guidelines and download the application form, click here.