TAHLEQUAH — Tahlequah is full of history, and history is full of ghosts. At least, that’s what some people believe.
Late last week, Sara Barnett, director of Northeastern State University Center for Tribal Studies, announced that Choctaw filmmaker Mark Williams, co-founder of the Native American Paranormal Project, will bring his all-Native paranormal investigation team to Tahlequah to film an episode about Bacone House.
Bacone House, 320 Academy St., was built in 1867, on land provided by Cherokee Chief John Ross and the council to house a Baptist mission. In 1880, it became Indian University, which eventually moved to Muskogee and was named Bacone College. Today, the local building houses the NSU Center for Tribal Studies. The center serves as a research hub for scholars and a gathering place for many Native American student groups.
Founded in 2011, the NAPP has visited several Native American historical sites, producing documentaries that are part history and part paranormal investigation. This will be the group’s second visit to NSU. In 2014, it recorded an episode at Seminary Hall, which premiered at Tahlequah’s Dream Theater.
Williams said his group is mindful when doing its investigations.
“We’re an all-Native crew, so we are respectful of the things we are investigating,” he said. “We use regular film equipment, and we don’t sensationalize in our documentaries.”
Williams learned about Bacone House from a casual conversation with Barnett while promoting this year’s NSU Symposium on the American Indian. He visited the building last week while he was in Tahlequah presenting his film, “Violet,” at the Symposium film series.
“It has a lot of history,” he said. “It’s been a college and a private residence. While we were here, we visited the building, looked in the basement. ... We’re excited to see what we find.”
Barnett said she looks forward to seeing what the NAPP finds in Bacone House because, like several others, she has had some strange experiences there.
“Even when I worked at the center as a student, I heard things like the front door opening and closing, footsteps on the creaky floor, and I’ve had the feeling of another presence in the room watching me,” she said.
It hasn’t stopped since she became the director.
“Over spring break, I came in to catch up on some Symposium work. I keep a small tray of sand for students and visitors to play with when they come in our office,” she said. “Knowing I was the last to leave on Friday and nobody would have been in office since then, I was shocked to find that over the break, the sand tray had been flipped off the table and was scattered all over the floor. I told myself it was a squirrel and decided to take my work home!”
Williams and his crew will be in the building in late May to find out if squirrels or spirits are responsible for the unusual happenings. They expect to premiere the film in Tahlequah in late fall 2017.