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Candessa Tehee Embraces Role as Leader of Cherokee Heritage Center

Candessa Tehee is the new executive director of the Cherokee Heritage Center in Tahlequah, Oklahoma.

Twenty years ago when Candessa Tehee worked as a teenage tour guide at the Cherokee Heritage Center in Tahlequah, Oklahoma, she had no idea she would someday be in charge of the operation.

During the January board meeting, the Cherokee National Historical Society Board of Directors named Tehee the new executive director of the center.

“I am honored and humbled to serve as executive director of an organization with such a rich and storied legacy as the Cherokee Heritage Center,” said Tehee. “I plan to use my experiences as a deeply cultural Cherokee full blood to build collaborative relationships and a long-term vision of strength and vitality for the Cherokee Heritage Center.”

Tehee, who is a fluent Cherokee speaker, previously managed the Cherokee Nation Language Program and oversaw the efforts of the language technology department, community languages program and the translation department.

She received a Bachelor of Arts in Native American Studies and Communications from the University of Oklahoma in 2000. She earned a Master of Education in 2003 and is slated to graduate this spring from OU with a Doctorate in Sociocultural and Linguistic Anthropology.

Since 2000, Tehee has developed her skills in the art of fingerweaving. In 2011, she received instruction from Cherokee National Treasure Dorothy Dreadfulwater Ice in table top loom weaving, which allowed her to carry on the legacy of her late paternal grandfather, Rogers McLemore, who was a Cherokee National Treasure.

The Cherokee Heritage Center is the premier cultural center for Cherokee tribal history, culture and the arts. For information on the 2014 season events, operating hours and programs, please contact the Cherokee Heritage Center at 888-999-6007 or visit