Cherokee Nation casinos, cultural sites remain closed
The Cherokee Heritage Center, seen April 8, is closed due to coronavirus. CHAD HUNTER/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
TAHLEQUAH – All Cherokee Nation-owned casinos, hotels, museums, gift shops and welcome centers remained closed as the COVID-19 pandemic persists.
The casino shutdown that began in mid-March will continue until May 1 “to keep citizens, employees and the public safe from COVID-19.”
“On March 16, we suspended operations of our hotels and casinos, and sent every employee home with full pay and full benefits,” Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. said in a March 26 video. “That suspension must continue for the health and safety of our employees, our customers and the communities in which they live. Reopening now would simply be dangerous and irresponsible given the impact of COVID-19.”
All Cherokee Nation Businesses employees on leave and those working remotely will continue to receive pay and benefits through May 1, according to the tribe.
“None of the employees affected by this temporary closure will miss a paycheck during this time period,” Hoskin said. “Unfortunately, we don’t know when it will be safe for operations to resume. But we’ll continue to make decisions based on medical science, facts and compassion.”
Temporary shutdowns also 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.
The Cherokee Heritage Center in Park Hill is also closed “until further notice” based on Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations. However, via its Facebook page and YouTube channel, the center is offering video guides on subjects such as Cherokee beadwork and cornhusk dolls.
“During this time while everyone is stuck at home, we want to bring a little bit of Cherokee culture to you,” Shanista Cloud, CHC cultural outreach coordinator, said to open her 12-minute tutorial on flat weaving with paper.
In another video, she noted that, “Normally this time of year, I would be hopping around to schools all over northeast Oklahoma teaching students how to weave baskets or make pinch pots.”
“But, because of the current circumstances, I thought it would be good to find a way to bring some cultural activities to you at home,” she said.
Before its March closure, the 44-acre museum campus had just reopened for the season.
Oklahoma Historical Society sites, such as Hunter’s Home in Park Hill and the Fort Gibson Historical Site, are closed until April 30.
On its website, okhistory.org, the society urges visitors to take advantage of online resources such as past magazines and virtual tours.
The Will Rogers Memorial Museum & Birthplace Ranch in Claremore is also shuttered until April 30. Visit willrogers.com for more information.
The Tribal Council cancelled its March meetings, but plans to hold three on April 27 in the its meeting area.
“These meeting agendas will not include the ‘regular monthly reports,’” a news release states. “We will only hear reports that are felt to be critical at this time to ensure the meetings are short to reduce the amount of expose everyone has by being out and about.”
The Tribal Council meeting, along with Rules and Executive & Finance committee meetings, will be available for viewing on the Cherokee Nation’s YouTube channel.