TAHLEQUAH, Okla. — Cherokee Nation announced today a phased approach to reopen cultural tourism sites beginning Wednesday, July 15.
The organizations temporarily suspended operations following the state of emergency issued by Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. on March 16 in response to the COVID-19 health crisis.
“Our primary mission is to provide guests with opportunities to interact with authentic Cherokee culture, history and heritage,” Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. said. “While we are observing enhanced safety procedures, some of these experiences will take on a new form but will remain true to providing immersive educational experiences.”
The openings will take place in the following three phases:
Phase 1, July 15 — Cherokee National History Museum, Tahlequah Gift Shop and Cherokee Heritage Center
Phase 2, July 22 — Cherokee National Prison Museum, Cherokee National Supreme Court Museum and Cherokee Gift Shop inside Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tulsa
Phase 3, July 29 — John Ross Museum, Sequoyah’s Cabin Museum and welcome centers in Kansas and Catoosa. In addition, the tribe plans to open the newly restored Saline Courthouse, with a grand opening ceremony to be held later this year.
Safety procedures include physical distancing, limited occupancy, enhanced cleaning and sanitization, and required use of face masks by all. Hours of operation will vary by location and can be found by visiting www.VisitCherokeeNation.com.
“We couldn’t be more excited to open our doors and welcome back guests, though our enthusiasm to reopen is matched with an equal sense of responsibility to protect our team members, guests and our neighbors,” said Travis Owens, director of Cherokee Nation Cultural Tourism. “As we open our doors, we do so with a renewed respect for one another’s safety, a heartfelt commitment to safely serving our guests, and a passion for sharing the history and culture of the Cherokee people with the world.”
Upon its July 15 reopening, Cherokee Heritage Center will debut the 49th annual Trail of Tears Art Show and Sale, the longest-running Native American art show and competition in Oklahoma. The juried show runs through Aug. 4 and features painting, sculpture, pottery, basketry, graphics, diverse art forms, jewelry, miniatures and photography/digital art.
“This show was originally set to open in early spring, just as the threat of coronavirus became reality,” said Paul Buckner, interim executive director for CHC. “Now the show is breathing life back into our facility and giving our community something to look forward to. We’re thankful for the compassionate and proactive leadership from Chief Hoskin and the Cherokee National Historical Society board of trustees throughout this difficult time and hope everyone will visit us soon to experience this remarkable show.”
A virtual reception will be shared on the heritage center’s Facebook page beginning at 7 p.m. on Friday, July 10 to announce the winners of more than $15,000 in prize money. The 49th annual Trail of Tears Art Show and Sale is made possible through the generous support of Chickasaw Nation, Bank of Oklahoma and Cherokee Nation Businesses.