Tribal Council OKs historic registry act
Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. addresses the Tribal Council during a Dec. 16 meeting in Tahlequah. The Council approved a historic registry act to protect and preserve historic sites significant to the Cherokee Nation. COURTESY
TAHLEQUAH – Tribal leaders on Dec. 16 approved legislation designed to save sites of significance to the Cherokee Nation.
In unanimous vote, legislators established the CN Registry of Historic Places Act. Its purpose is to “provide a comprehensive framework for identifying, protecting and preserving Cherokee Nation cultural heritage sites.”
“Although federal and state governments play a role in protecting Cherokee historical sites,” the act states, “it is essential that the Cherokee Nation expand its cultural resource preservation activities for future generations.”
Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. said the act will allow the tribe to “continue our efforts to preserve and protect our historic sites.”
“These locations are rich in Cherokee history and must not be forgotten,” he said, “and this legislation ensures we keep these sacred grounds safe while passing them along to future generations of Cherokees.”
Hoskin first announced the act in November at the historic Saline Courthouse in Delaware County, which is one of approximately 80 locations that have been identified within the CN’s jurisdiction for potential inclusion on the tribe’s registry.
“Just in the past five years between Cherokee Nation Businesses and the Cherokee Nation, we have put in over $14 million into preserving sites,” Hoskin said in November.
Under the act, the tribe’s Natural Resources department will create and maintain a database of historical sites.
“What we intend to do going forward … is putting together a list of proposed sites to present to the principal chief for his review,” Natural Resources Secretary Chad Harsha told tribal councilors at an earlier committee meeting.
Hoskin encouraged councilors to offer site ideas.
“There are certainly sites that people know about in their areas,” he said. “So we want to get that information and have the subject matter experts look at it. There will also be this period for public review and comment.”
The act, sponsored by Tribal Councilor Keith Austin, also makes it a crime to deface tribal historic sites listed on the registry, and incorporates a permit system for excavation and manipulation of cultural resources on historic sites.
At the Dec. 16 meeting, councilors also approved a resolution for Health Services to donate a metal building to Maryetta Public Schools and reappointed Wayne Coldwell to the CN Comprehensive Care Agency.