This portion of Oklahoma that is now Sequoyah County has been a possession of four nations: Spain, France, the Cherokee Nation Indian Territory, and the United States. Sallisaw, the County seat, is situated at the southern edge of the famed Cookson Hills. It is located on two trunk line railroads and served by Highways 59 and 64 as well as Interstate 40.
Sallisaw derived its name from the French word "salaiseau," or salt provisions. Salt deposits along the streams in this area furnished salt used by buffalo hunters and early settlers to preserve meat. Evidence of old salt kettles is still found in the county.
Sallisaw's establishment date is commonly given as March 17, 1886. On that date the Missouri Pacific Railroad, then known as the Kansas and Arkansas Valley Railroad, was completed into Sallisaw where three pioneer families were living. The community was incorporated in 1886 in the State of Arkansas, where the town was located at the time. The railroad provided economic opportunity for farmers to market their agricultural products, mainly cotton.
Sequoyah County continues to be seen as a rural agricultural community. In 1919, the City of Sallisaw adopted a charter providing for a managerial form of government that continues to the present time.