On Feb. 3, 1971, Kansas City Fed and Cherokee Indian officials gathered In Tahlequah, Oklahoma, to dedicate a monument honoring the late U.S. Sen. Robert Latham Owen, co-author of the legislation that formed the Federal Reserve System.
According to the Tulsa World’s coverage of the event, about 250 people were in attendance at “Tsa-La-Gi,” the Cherokee Heritage Center, when Bank President George H. Clay and Cherokee Chief W.W. “Bill” Keeler unveiled the marble monument.
Owen, a Virginia native who came to the Oklahoma Territory as a child and later became a banker, was appointed in 1907 as one of the new state’s first two U.S. senators. His mother’s great-great grandfather was a Cherokee chief, and Owen was one of the country’s first senators of Native American descent.
Owen is remembered for being the Senate sponsor of the Federal Reserve Act, working with Virginia congressman Carter Glass. President Woodrow Wilson signed the legislation in December 1913, creating the nation’s central bank. Owen served in the Senate until 1924. He died in 1947.
A section about Owen in the Kansas City Fed book “Confidence Restored: The History of the Tenth District’s Federal Reserve Bank” notes another historical connection: George Washington was his Owen’s mother’s ancestor, and Owen was said to carry a clip of the first president’s hair.