TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr., announced today that the 68th Annual Cherokee National Holiday will be a “virtual Holiday” this year.
Traditionally, the Cherokee National Holiday draws more than 100,000 visitors from both Oklahoma and out of state on Labor Day weekend. Due to the risks of COVID-19, and a recent uptick in cases in Oklahoma, and out of an abundance of caution for Cherokee citizen participants and visitor’s safety, the Holiday will be celebrated by watching many key events online.
“It’s important we celebrate the great achievements of the Cherokee Nation, our government and our citizens, but COVID-19 still remains a threat, especially for our elders, and our community, with the thousands potentially coming into the Cherokee Nation Labor Day weekend,” Chief Hoskin said. “This was a tough decision but we always want to err on the side of caution and protect our employees who put on the events and the public, so this year we felt it best to share our Cherokee National Holiday celebration and traditions safely online for viewers around the globe to tune in and see.”
This year spectators will be able to tune in from the convenience of home to watch the Chief’s important State of the Nation Address, Cherokee art show, Miss Cherokee competition, demonstrations of traditional games and more.
Larger events, such as the annual parade, fishing derby, powwow, softball tournament and arts and crafts food and vendor markets, will be held regularly next year.
This year’s holiday theme is “We the People of the Cherokee Nation: Celebrating Tribal Sovereignty.”
In this year’s design, the Cherokee Constitution is shown in the background with the first sentence, “We, the people of the Cherokee Nation.”
At top, is the seven stars to represent the seven clans. The one star directly below symbolizes the appointed Cherokee Nation Delegate to Congress, which is a treaty right between the Cherokee Nation and United States Government.
The 38 leaves on the sides represent the federally recognized tribes in Oklahoma with two branches representing the partnership the tribes play with the state of Oklahoma. The middle leaf represents good medicine as the partners negotiate a gaming compact.
The two sides at the medicine represent the Five Tribes. At the center is the Hawk, a symbol of stately leadership like that of the Principal Chief and Deputy Chief in their first-year in office. The Hawk holds in protection the Seal of the Cherokee Nation, and encompassed in the wings is the hard-working tribal government and its employees. In the tail is 42 feathers, representative of the years the federal Indian Child Welfare Act which protects Native and Cherokee children and keeps them with their tribe, has been upheld. The three outer rings represent the three branches of Cherokee Nation government, tirelessly working to defend the Cherokee Nation and is sovereign right to self-govern.
“This Cherokee National Holiday will be unlike any we’ve ever had, and while some events won’t be open to the public so that we can maintain safety here in the Cherokee Nation, it does allow citizens across the globe to watch an array of events that are traditional to our Cherokee people, and plan their trip to Tahlequah in 2021,” Cherokee National Holiday Coordinator Austin Patton said.
The Cherokee National Holiday commemorates the signing of the Cherokee Nation Constitution in 1839, which reestablished the tribe’s government in Indian Territory after forced removal from the Cherokees’ original homelands in the Southeast.
A full list of virtual events will be posted soon. Check https://holiday.cherokee.org for updates. For questions about the Holiday, call Patton at 918-822-2427.