James L. Henkle, associate professor of the school of art at the University of Oklahoma designed the screen on commission from the Tulsa Historical Society. In the center of the screen is a stylized turtle, made of oxidized copper. Surrounding it, in braised brass, polished brass and copper, are flame forms representing the sacred fire of the Creek Indians, Tulsa’s first citizens. The screen weighs more than 500 pounds and is currently located on the second floor of the Central Library.
The bronze plaque mounted on the oak leaves of the screen was originally placed on the Council Oak Tree (18 Street and South Cheyenne Avenue) by the Tulsa D.A.R. chapter in 1923. In 1965 the plaque was given to the Tulsa Historical Society for fear of it being vandalized. On July 1, 1965, the plaque and “Place of the Turtles” screen was dedicated on the 3rd floor of the Central Library to identify the then location of the Tulsa County Historical Society headquarters and archives.
Source: Tulsa World, May 1, 1965; p. 1; Tulsa County Historical Society Dedicatory Program, July 1, 1965.
In May 2013, the American Indian Resource Center moved from Central Library to Zarrow Regional Library (2224 W. 54th ST, Tulsa). Central Library closed in August 2013 for a two-year major renovation. In March 2014 the ‘Place of the Turtles’ screen was erected at Zarrow Regional Library. The American Indian Resource Center and its Turtle screen will remain at Zarrow Regional Library.