Latitude / Longitude:
35°44′14″N 94°31′19″W / 35.73722°N 94.52194°W / 35.73722 -94.52194
Central (CST) (UTC-6)
Bell is a census-designated place (CDP) in Adair County, Oklahoma, United States. The population was 535 at the 2010 census, an 11.1 percent decline from 602 at the 2000 census.
In the early 1980s, the Cherokee Nation, under the direction of Wilma Mankiller (then the director of the Cherokee Nation Community Development Department, later principal chief) and her colleague (and future husband) Charlie Soap, put together a project to build a 16-mile waterline to Bell, where many of the residents still had no indoor plumbing. The tribe provided equipment and technological assistance, while Bell residents contributed most of the labor on a volunteer basis. The project drew widespread attention and launched Mankiller’s political career. The project is the subject of a 2013 feature film, The Cherokee Word for Water.
In June 2010, after systemic auditing by the Oklahoma state Board of Education, the 200-year-old school district was demanded to be closed by the state. This was due to declared financial impropriety discovered during the auditing process. The Kindergarten through Eighth grade district, composed 97% by Cherokee children, was merged with two separate district. The Stilwell and Belfonte school districts will take fiscal responsibility for the students from the Bell district, and the former Bell school building will remain open.