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Cherokee, Iowa
"Citizens With a Passion for Community and a Community with Passion for its Citizens!"
Location of Cherokee, Iowa
Location of Cherokee, Iowa
Country  United States
State  Iowa
County Cherokee
 • Type Mayor-council
 • Total 6.86 sq mi (17.76 km2)
 • Land 6.83 sq mi (17.70 km2)
 • Water 0.02 sq mi (0.06 km2)
1,194 ft (364 m)
 • Total 5,199
 • Density 760.87/sq mi (293.77/km2)
Time zone UTC-6 (Central (CST))
 • Summer (DST) UTC-5 (CDT)
ZIP code
Area code(s) 712
FIPS code 19-13080
GNIS feature ID 0455370
Mental Health Institute, Cherokee, Iowa

Cherokee is a city in Cherokee County, Iowa, United States. The population was 5,199 at the 2020 Census, down from 5,369 in 2000. It is the county seat of Cherokee County.

Cherokee Iowa 1909 Main Street Looking West
Main street in 1909.


Cherokee was laid out as a town in 1870, and was named for the Indian tribe. Cherokee was incorporated on April 5, 1873.


According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 6.45 square miles (16.71 km2), of which, 6.43 square miles (16.65 km2) is land and 0.02 square miles (0.05 km2) is water.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1870 438
1880 1,523 247.7%
1890 3,441 125.9%
1900 3,865 12.3%
1910 4,884 26.4%
1920 5,824 19.2%
1930 6,443 10.6%
1940 7,469 15.9%
1950 7,705 3.2%
1960 7,724 0.2%
1970 7,272 −5.9%
1980 7,004 −3.7%
1990 6,026 −14.0%
2000 5,369 −10.9%
2010 5,253 −2.2%
2020 5,199 −1.0%
U.S. Decennial Census
The population of Cherokee, Iowa from US census data

2010 census

At the 2010 census there were 5,253 people in 2,316 households, including 1,339 families, in the city. The population density was 817.0 inhabitants per square mile (315.4/km2). There were 2,569 housing units at an average density of 399.5 per square mile (154.2/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 95.5% White, 1.0% African American, 0.3% Native American, 0.7% Asian, 0.2% Pacific Islander, 1.2% from other races, and 1.1% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.9%.

Of the 2,316 households 24.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 43.9% were married couples living together, 9.6% had a female householder with no husband present, 4.3% had a male householder with no wife present, and 42.2% were non-families. 37.3% of households were one person and 16.9% were one person aged 65 or older. The average household size was 2.14 and the average family size was 2.77.

The median age was 46.3 years. 20.2% of residents were under the age of 18; 7.1% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 21.1% were from 25 to 44; 28.9% were from 45 to 64; and 22.8% were 65 or older. The gender makeup of the city was 48.6% male and 51.4% female.

Arts and culture

Sites on the National Register of Historic Places

The nearby Cherokee Sewer Site is a well-preserved prehistoric Indian bison-processing site, which helped to redefine the Archaic period in the Midwest, and the Phipps Site is a National Historic Landmark 1000-year-old Plains farming village that may have been fortified.

Annual events

The annual Jazz Festival is held in January, often headlined by Mark Pender a member of the Basic Cable band.

The Cherokee County Fair, and the Cherokee Rodeo are held in the summer.

Creek Fest is an annual summer music festival held along the banks of Mill Creek. Past performers include The Band Perry, Big & Rich, and Florida Georgia Line.


Cherokee is the home of the Sanford Museum and Planetarium that opened in 1951. The intent of the founders, Mr & Mrs W.A. Sanford, was to create a museum that was free and open to the public. The facility is currently (January 2011) still operated free to the public and has exhibits and activities on a variety of subjects including: archaeology, art, astronomy, geology, history, natural history, and paleontology.

Cherokee may be the smallest town in the world to have its own symphony orchestra, the Cherokee Symphony. This 60-member orchestra has been referred to as "the best kept secret in Northwest Iowa".


The Cherokee Community School District operates local schools.


Notable people

  • Ralph Block, film producer and screenwriter; president of Screen Actors Guild.
  • Elwood Brown, basketball coach.
  • Wilmer D. Elfrink, football and basketball player.
  • Guy M. Gillette, U.S. Representative (1930 - 1936) and Senator (1936 -1945) from Iowa.
  • Roger Goeb, composer.
  • Kelly Goodburn, NFL punter and Super Bowl champion for Washington Redskins.
  • Major General Joseph A. Green, Chief of the Coast Artillery Corps.
  • Dan Huseman, member of Iowa House of Representatives.
  • Royal C. Johnson, 8th Attorney General of South Dakota, U.S. Representative from South Dakota; highly decorated World War I veteran.
  • Matt Koch, MLB baseball player with Arizona Diamondbacks.
  • Ben F. Laposky, artist and mathematician.
  • Edward Lindberg, Olympic gold medalist in 1912, track and field.
  • Steve Melter, baseball player.
  • Thomas Miller, Iowa newspaper editor and politician
  • Spike Nelson, football player and coach.
  • Ken Nordine, voiceover.
  • Doug Ohlson, abstract artist.
  • Jason Ravnsborg, 31st and current Attorney General of South Dakota.
  • Laurence Rickels, theorist and philosopher, studied vampires, the Devil, technology and science fiction.
  • General John D. Ryan, US Air Force Chief of Staff, 1969–71.
  • Francis L. Sampson, Army officer whose rescue of young soldier inspired film Saving Private Ryan.
  • Harold D. Schuster, editor and film director.
  • Adam Timmerman, NFL lineman and Super Bowl champion for St. Louis Rams and Green Bay Packers.
  • Steven VanRoekel, second Federal Chief Information Officer of the United States
  • Stanton Warburton, U.S. Representative from Washington; moved to Cherokee.
  • T. J. Hockenson, tight end for the Detroit Lions

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Cherokee (Iowa) para niños

National Hispanic Heritage Month on Kiddle
Hispanic astronauts
Joseph M. Acaba
Sidney M. Gutierrez
George D. Zamka
John D. Olivas
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