The Cherokee Nation has been cautious about reopening its operations and hosting events, and on Wednesday, tribal officials announced that the 68th Annual Cherokee National Holiday will be a virtual event this year.
Held annually during Labor Day weekend, the National Holiday typically attracts over 100,000 visitors to Tahlequah and Park Hill. For the health of the community and travelers, many of the weekend's events will be staged online, including the State of the Nation address by Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr., the Miss Cherokee competitions, Cherokee Art Show, traditional game demonstrations and more.
"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," 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."
Events that tend to draw large crowds - such as the powwows, parade, sports tournaments, vendor markets, and fishing derby - are canceled and will be held next year.
"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," said Cherokee National Holiday Coordinator Austin Patton.
The Cherokee National Holiday commemorates the signing of the Cherokee Nation Constitution in 1839, which re-established the tribe's government in Indian Territory after forced removal from the Cherokees' original homelands in the Southeast, according to a press release.
The theme of this year's Holiday is "We the People of the Cherokee Nation: Celebrating Tribal Sovereignty."
Check it out
A full list of virtual events will be available at https://holiday.cherokee.org. For questions about the Cherokee National Holiday, call Patton at 918-822-2427.