Cherokee Nation museums, shops close ‘until further notice’
The Cherokee National History Museum in Tahlequah and other cultural sites are closed due to coronavirus. CHAD HUNTER/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
TAHLEQUAH – Amid the coronavirus threat, all Cherokee Nation-owned museums, gift shops and welcome centers were closed March 17 “until further notice,” based on Centers for Disease Control recommendations.
Temporary shutdowns affect the Cherokee National History Museum, Cherokee National Prison Museum, Cherokee National Supreme Court Museum, Sequoyah’s Cabin Museum and John Ross Museum, according to the CN.
“Additional operational shutdowns include Cherokee Nation gift shops in Tahlequah and inside Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tulsa, as well as Cherokee Nation-owned-and-operated welcome centers in Catoosa and Kansas, Oklahoma,” a news release states. “All properties will remain closed until the end of the month (March), when Cherokee Nation will evaluate the safety and feasibility of reopening during this public health crisis.”
The Cherokee Heritage Center in Park Hill was also closed temporarily, according to its website, cherokeeheritage.org. Before its closure, the 44-acre museum campus had just reopened for the season.
Established and owned by the Cherokee National Historical Society, the site on Keeler Drive includes a mid-1970s building that houses the Cherokee National Archives, a museum store and office and exhibit space. It also features reconstructed historic villages, a Trail of Tears display and original columns from the former Cherokee Female Seminary.
The annual Trail of Tears Art Show & Sale and Cherokee Art Market Youth Competition have been postponed. The April 4 events and an April 3 reception were slated to take place at the CHC.
“Employees will continue to be paid during this temporary closure and may be reassigned as necessary over the next few weeks,” the CN news release stated.
The CN also postponed all Tribal Council-led community gatherings and meetings.
Other cancelled CN-related events and meetings included an artist showcase at the Cherokee National History Museum, the CHC’s “American Indians in Major League Baseball” discussion, a genealogy workshop and Tribal Youth Summit.
Hunter’s Home, Oklahoma’s last remaining antebellum plantation, was closed to the public, too.
“This is a crazy time, but if we practice good hygiene and care for one another we can get through this together,” its Facebook page posted in mid-March. “While we are closed, we will be working to bring as many of our programs online as possible.”
Tentative plans were to reopen Hunter’s Home on March 31. Built in 1845, the estate in Park Hill was established by George Michael Murrell, and is tied to the influential Cherokee family of John Ross, CN chief from 1828-66. It is operated by the Oklahoma Historical Society, which has also closed the Fort Gibson Historical Site.
“In an effort to minimize gatherings, all OHS-sponsored events are canceled or postponed through April 14, and some events have been canceled beyond that date,” a news release states, adding that event changes are posted to its website, okhistory.org
The Will Rogers Memorial Museum & Birthplace Ranch in Claremore was shut down until at least March 31, too. Visit willrogers.com
for information. For virtual tours in the meantime, visit the Will Rogers channel on YouTube.