Like many rural communities many decades ago a school was built in Lost City, OK. There isn’t much else that claims the name of Lost City other than a small cemetery next to the school, and a long winding road that runs from a four way stop to the next small but larger town.
The school was built long long ago and was used as an elementary school until a few years ago. Originally constructed of rock, it was enlarged beyond the one room by a cinder block addition, then a metal building extension in more recent years. A large fenced playground and an open pasture used for baseball extends out to the furthest reaches of the property. A large wooden sign proclaims the mascots as Lost City Indians, a sign that many might see as providing a clue to the mindset of political awareness of a rural community.
But in the heart of land that was once deemed as unvalueable and given to a people also once deemed as unvalueable, this small school struggled to keep a nearly forgotten language alive. Some twenty miles from Lost City is Tahlequah, Oklahoma, seat of the Cherokee Nation. While big city schools touted programs of foreign language immersion in French or Spanish, Lost City School chose the Cherokee language for their immersion program. A bold move by the Lost City School Board. The Cherokee immersion program for school children was unique but across the county in community centers there are small classes set up where adults can enroll in Cherokee language classes.
In 2008 the State of Oklahoma closed Lost City School. The tribe tried to save it by pumping some funds into much needed repairs, but the building was in a sad state of deterioration and it had become a health hazard.
Recently as I was driving from our farm through Lost City towards Tahlequah for a quick (all things being relative in that Tahlequah is roughly twenty-five miles away) errand I saw a sign that caused me to pull over. Lost City School is now for sale. I knew this day would come. What I hadn’t realized was how sad it made me feel. A little piece of history and daring is lost.