Cherokee Nation museums, Cherokee Heritage Center announce openings beginning July 15

06/23/2020 11:30 AM
Main Cherokee Phoenix
The Cherokee National History Museum in Tahlequah will reopen on July 15, according to a June 19 announcement by Cherokee Nation officials. COURTESY
TAHLEQUAH – Cherokee Nation officials on June 19 announced a phased approach to reopen cultural tourism sites beginning July 15.

The organizations temporarily suspended operations following the state of emergency issued by Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. on March 16 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.   

“Our primary mission is to provide guests with opportunities to interact with authentic Cherokee culture, history and heritage,” Hoskin said. “While we are observing enhanced safety procedures, some of these experiences will take on a new form but will remain true to providing immersive educational experiences.”

The openings will take place in the following three phases:

• Phase 1, July 15: Cherokee National History Museum, Tahlequah Gift Shop and Cherokee Heritage Center;

• Phase 2, July 22: Cherokee National Prison Museum, Cherokee National Supreme Court Museum and Cherokee Gift Shop inside Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tulsa; and

• Phase 3, July 29: John Ross Museum, Sequoyah’s Cabin Museum and welcome centers in Kansas and Catoosa.

In addition, the tribe plans to open the recently restored Saline Courthouse in Delaware County with a grand opening ceremony to be held later this year. 

According to the announcement, safety procedures include physical distancing, limited occupancy, enhanced cleaning and sanitization and required use of face masks by all. Hours of operation will vary by location and can be found by visiting

“We couldn’t be more excited to open our doors and welcome back guests, though our enthusiasm to reopen is matched with an equal sense of responsibility to protect our team members, guests and our neighbors,” Travis Owens, Cherokee Nation Cultural Tourism director, said. “As we open our doors, we do so with a renewed respect for one another’s safety, a heartfelt commitment to safely serving our guests, and a passion for sharing the history and culture of the Cherokee people with the world.”

Upon its July 15 reopening, the CHC will debut the 49th annual Trail of Tears Art Show and Sale, the longest-running Native American art show and competition in Oklahoma. The juried show runs through Aug. 4 and features painting, sculpture, pottery, basketry, graphics, diverse art forms, jewelry, miniatures and photography/digital art.

“This show was originally set to open in early spring, just as the threat of coronavirus became reality,” CHC Interim Executive Director Paul Buckner said. “Now the show is breathing life back into our facility and giving our community something to look forward to. We’re thankful for the compassionate and proactive leadership from Chief Hoskin and the Cherokee National Historical Society board of trustees throughout this difficult time and hope everyone will visit us soon to experience this remarkable show.”

A virtual reception will be shared on the CHC’s Facebook page beginning at 7 p.m. on July 10 to announce the winners of more than $15,000 in prize money. The annual art show and sale is made possible through the support of Chickasaw Nation, Bank of Oklahoma and Cherokee Nation Businesses.


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