TAHLEQUAH, Okla. — The Council of the Cherokee Nation approved a resolution Monday adopting the Kansas Intersection Safety Improvement Project for work at the intersection of U.S. Highway 412A, Highway 59 and State Highway 10 in the town of Kansas, Delaware County. The resolution names the intersection as a priority for Tribal Transportation Program Safety funding.

“The Cherokee Nation has always assisted our communities by maintaining roadways throughout the reservation,” said Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. “This Kansas intersection has seen numerous accidents in the last five-year period. I’m grateful to the Council for taking action to continue the Cherokee Nation tradition of improving roads and at the same time increasing the safety measures for our citizens and communities.”

The Cherokee Nation will be partnering with the Oklahoma Department of Transportation to complete the intersection safety improvement project. The Cherokee Nation has secured nearly $280,000 in funding from the Tribal Transportation Program Safety Fund to assist ODOT in the construction of a roundabout, which will help alleviate the safety concerns of the intersection. ODOT will match the Cherokee Nation funding to complete the project.

The intersection improvement project is being designed by ODOT and is scheduled for fiscal year 2022.

“It’s time for this traffic to be slowed down so we can get it under control,” said District 9 Tribal Councilor Mike Shambaugh. “This intersection has seen about 15 accidents in the last five-year period, many of which have resulted in severe injuries. So I’m very thankful to the Council for taking action that will be so beneficial to so many within District 9 and those just passing through.”

The Tribal Council also authorized the establishment of a memorial to honor the about 50 Cherokee speakers lost to the coronavirus pandemic during Monday’s Council meeting. The memorial will be located at the new Durbin Feeling Language Center in Tahlequah.

“The losses suffered due to the COVID-19 pandemic are a sad thing. It's historic in the sense that not only did it take a massive toll on our elders and first language speakers, but it affected the whole world in a similar fashion,” Speaker of the Council Joe Byrd said. “This memorial is important, because years down the road it will be an important piece of our history to teach our grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Our lost brothers and sisters should always be remembered.”