Building expands Cherokee language preservation, food security

BY STAFF REPORTS
12/14/2020 03:00 PM
Main Cherokee Phoenix
The Cherokee Nation is securing a multi-use site in Rogers County, which will house both a virtual production soundstage and warehouse for food and PPE storage and distribution. COURTESY
TULSA – Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. and Deputy Chief Bryan Warner on Dec. 10 announced the Cherokee Nation is securing a multi-use site in Rogers County to house a virtual production soundstage and warehouse for food and PPE storage and distribution.

CN officials said the soundstage would expand their COVID-19 mitigation efforts by bolstering the tribe’s health and safety communication efforts and Cherokee language and cultural preservation efforts, while the warehouse will serve as an anchor for the distribution of COVID-19 relief goods to the northern portion of the tribe’s reservation.

“We are proud to launch a multi-purpose facility, that will enable Cherokee Nation to execute so many of our objectives from under one roof,” Hoskin said. “We are committed to developing new language preservation programs while ensuring we use the best safety protocols possible to keep our citizens safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. This will allow us to create content that will help stop the spread of COVID-19 and improve the ways our tribal government is able to communicate and share cultural lessons, including language, with our citizens.”

Hoskin said increased food security has been a priority for CN since the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. The CN held about 300 food distribution events that helped feed more than 96,000 tribal citizens, officials said. The new warehouse site will hold shelf-stable goods for food distribution, PPE and other items as necessary for the CN to mitigate COVID-19, officials said.

“We’ve been aggressively acquiring and distributing essential items to our citizens since March,” Hoskin said. “We have a tremendous number of Cherokees relying on our tribal government, and we will continue to serve their needs and ensure our most vulnerable citizens have access to healthy food and protective equipment.”

Both endeavors are part of the tribe’s COVID-19 Respond, Recover and Rebuild Program, officials said.

Access to cultural knowledge usually imparted by Cherokee elders and community members through large, in-person gatherings has been lost during most of 2020, and will not likely resume in 2021 because of COVID-19, officials said.  

“The soundstage we are building allows the Cherokee Nation to utilize some of the newest technology, enabling us create high-quality content that will dramatically improve tribe’s communications in this new virtually-driven setting,” Jennifer Loren, Cherokee Nation Film Office director, said. “This is a game changer for our tribe and a huge step forward for Native content creation, as we continue to find innovative ways to create our own messaging and tell our own stories.”

Officials said the building’s sound stage portion will be managed by the CNFO through Cherokee Nation Businesses. It will also be made available for use by any of the tribe’s subsidiaries to meet the demand to develop telework materials for the CN and CNB, officials said. The CN will manage the portion designated for warehouse and distribution efforts.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has created a sense of urgency in preserving our culture and language because we losing elders to this disease at alarming rates,” said Warner, who sits on the Tribal Advisory Committee of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “There are so many levels of use for this new facility: health and safety messaging, education of Cherokee youth, and passing on cultural knowledge. We can effectively communicate and spread the important messages needed to keep our elders, our youth and our culture protected during this global crisis. We are moving quickly, but strategically, to ensure Cherokee citizens and our communities continue to recover and rebuild. This is an important step, and we will continue to monitor the development of this facility.”

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