Hoskin says 2020 Cherokee National Holiday will be ‘virtual’
Students from the Cherokee Immersion Charter School’s first class ride a float in the 2019 Cherokee National Holiday during Labor Day Weekend. ARCHIVE
TAHLEQUAH – In a video announcement on June 24, Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr., said the 68th annual Cherokee National Holiday would be “virtual” in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Under typical circumstances, the event is a colossal attraction for the Cherokee Nation and Tahlequah, drawing more than 100,000 visitors annually during Labor Day weekend. With record spikes in COVID-19 incidence nationally and in Oklahoma, the CN will hold a downsized holiday with many events arranged to be viewed online.
The full list of activities has not yet been released, but traditional game demonstrations, the Miss Cherokee competition, the Cherokee art show and the State of the Nation address will be viewable online. The parade, powwow, softball tournament, fishing derby, food, arts and crafts, and vendor markets are cancelled for this year’s holiday.
Because of the COVID-19 risks and a recent uptick of cases in Oklahoma, as well as an abundance of caution for CN citizen participants and visitors’ safety, the holiday will be celebrated by watching many key events online.
Hoskin said it was essential to the health of CN citizens and the general public that a revised holiday take place in 2020. He cited the rising incidence of COVID-19 and the expectation of many epidemiologists of a second surge of cases this fall, meaning “a decision on the holiday had to be made now.”
“It’s important we celebrate the great achievements of the Cherokee Nation, our government and our citizens, but COVID-19 still remains a threat, especially for our elders and our community, with the thousands potentially coming into the Cherokee Nation Labor Day weekend,” Hoskin said. “This was a tough decision, but we always want to err on the side of caution and protect our employees who put on the events and the public, so this year we felt it best to share our Cherokee National Holiday celebration and traditions safely online for viewers around the globe to tune in and see.”
Hoskin said the virtual holiday was a decision of the administration based on the safety recommendations of health officials within the tribe and across all levels of government.
“I know that many of our arts and crafts vendors, food vendors, artists, dancers, parade entries – all of those who come to visit us each year – may be disappointed,” he said. “But taking this step is the right thing to do. We simply cannot take the risks associated with taking in 100,000 visitors from all over the country into the Cherokee Nation all at once.”
The theme for the 68th holiday is “We the People of the Cherokee Nation: Celebrating Tribal Sovereignty.”
“This Cherokee National Holiday will be unlike any we’ve ever had, and while some events won’t be open to the public so that we can maintain safety here in the Cherokee Nation, it does allow citizens across the globe to watch an array of events that are traditional to our Cherokee people, and plan their trip to Tahlequah in 2021,” said Austin Patton, holiday coordinator.
The Cherokee National Holiday commemorates the signing of the CN Constitution in 1839, which reestablished the tribe’s government in Indian Territory after the Cherokees’ forced removal from their traditional lands in the southeastern U.S.
A full schedule of virtual events is to be announced. Visit https://holiday.cherokee.org
for updates. For questions concerning the holiday, call Patton at 918-822-2427.