AKINS, Okla. — Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. signed into law the “Cherokee Nation Park, Wildlands, Fishing and Hunting Preserve Act of 2021” on Monday, March 1, during a visit to the tribe’s beautiful new 4,000-plus-acre preserve in Sequoyah County.
Chief Hoskin was joined by Deputy Chief Bryan Warner, Secretary of State Tina Glory-Jordan, Secretary of Natural Resources Chad Harsha, and a number of members of the Council of the Cherokee Nation who sponsored the legislation.
“The enactment of this historic legislation signals a new era for conservation of our public lands for generations to come,” Chief Hoskin said. “This new law designates several new Cherokee Nation preserves including the new 4,000-plus acres we recently acquired in Sequoyah County. This legislation will also give more structure to the way we manage our land for Cherokee citizens and will give life to the programs and initiatives we have in store. From land management to conservation, this act will be in place to help ensure generations from now that this land is still here and useful to Cherokee citizens.”
Under the new legislation, the Cherokee Nation has designated four new reserves, including the Cherokee Nation Hunting Preserve, which is nearly 4,400 acres of tribal fee property in Sequoyah County. The wilderness land will be accessible for hunting and fishing and traditional outdoor activities. It will also help ensure food security for Cherokee families through hunting and gathering opportunities.
The Cherokee Nation Sallisaw Creek Park is about 800 acres of tribal trust land in Sequoyah County. It is a partially developed public park that can be used for hunting, fishing, camping and other recreational purposes.
The tribe also established 155 acres of reserve land in Craig County and 810 acres of land in Adair County to be used by the Cherokee Nation’s Medicine Keepers program for traditional and medicinal plant gathering and Cherokee cultural activities.
“The law we have enacted will give us a road map for moving forward and doing more things for conservation of land and preservation of our culture,” said Deputy Chief Warner. “I’m looking forward to the possibilities we have of creating programs that support our Cherokee youth, our Cherokee veterans, and all Cherokee families who have an interest in land conservation and traditional hunting, fishing and gathering activities.”
Cherokee Nation Natural Resources will oversee the reserve areas. Future parcels of trust property are also being considered for hunting and fishing, cultural use or archery programs.
“This legislation and the new land reserves we’ve established are some of the best things to come along in a long time,” said Tribal Councilor E.O. Smith, of Vian. “Providing more access to food sources and preserving our resources is extremely important. With this legislation, we’re making sure these lands are here for the next seven generations. There are so many different avenues we can use the reserve lands for, and I’m so proud to be a part of it.”
The tribe anticipates opening portions of the reserve areas to Cherokee citizens for controlled hunts later this year.
“This is a huge day not just for Cherokees in District 6, but the Cherokee Nation as a whole,” said Tribal Councilor Daryl Legg, of Sallisaw. “Specifically, to have our own 4,000-plus acres of land here in Sequoyah County, we can do hunts, fishing – the sky’s the limit. It’s our way of giving back to Cherokees and preserving some of our culture.”
The 4,000-plus acres in Sequoyah County will also help to mitigate COVID-19 by decreasing food insecurity and providing opportunities to improve citizens’ wellbeing, including as an area for those who have been exposed to COVID-19 to self-quarantine, if necessary.
Regulations for the Cherokee Nation reserve areas and a map of locations is expected to be available online this spring under the Natural Resources tab on www.cherokee.org.