This year’s Cherokee National Holiday will be unlike any other in our history. Since 1953 our capital city of Tahlequah has been the host to this annual homecoming and more than 100,000 visitors each Labor Day weekend. Because of the global COVID-19 pandemic, we have adapted the 2020 event to an online platform so that viewing its key elements can be enjoyed safely from the comforts of home. Although the 68th Cherokee National Holiday will be mostly virtual, it will still allow you to experience Cherokee Nation’s unique history and culture.
As a reminder, the Cherokee National Holiday celebrates the signing of the Cherokee Nation Constitution in 1839, reestablishing the Cherokee Nation’s right to self-governance in Indian Territory, after the forced removal from traditional Cherokee homelands in the Southeast. We also celebrate the 1839 Act of Union that reunified separate parts of the Cherokee Nation under one government and Constitution. To this day, our Constitution guides our government and Cherokee Nation’s commitment to unity. With that in mind, 2020 is the perfect time to celebrate this year’s Holiday theme, “We the People of the Cherokee Nation: Celebrating Tribal Sovereignty.”
Even in the age of COVID, it is important we take a moment and reflect on the great achievements of the Cherokee Nation, our government and our citizens that are happening right now. In the past year, the Cherokee Nation has appointed its first delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives. The United States Supreme Court has affirmed that our reservation boundaries here in eastern Oklahoma still exist. Another federal district court handed Oklahoma tribes a victory in our state-tribal gaming compact renewal. All of these major events expand and enhance our sovereignty and self-determination. As Cherokee Nation citizens, we are blessed to live at a time when these critical chapters of our history are being written.
This year, Cherokee National Holiday spectators can tune in to thecherokeeholiday.com from your computer or other device to watch the annual State of the Nation Address, where I’ll be speaking more on those important issues. But there’s much more. You can also see the Cherokee art show and quilt show, watch demonstrations of traditional games and take a look at the winning vehicles in the car show. I anticipate the virtual powwow will be extremely popular, and I look forward to sharing with you our new Cherokee National Treasures, as well as community leadership and veteran award-winners.
Cherokee Nation’s primary in-person event will be Drive-In Movie Nights Thursday, Friday and Saturday, Sept. 3-5, hosted by the Cherokee Nation Film Office. Scheduled to be held at One Fire Field near the Cherokee Nation complex, the films will offer a shared experience with social distancing, as attendees can remain inside their car during the event. Tickets, limited to 300 cars, are free and available at thecherokeeholiday.com. Additionally, a drive-in fireworks show is planned for Sunday, Sept. 6, at Cherokee Springs Plaza. This, again, is something fun to enjoy from your vehicle.
I want to give a special thanks to Cherokee Nation’s staff for their creativity and commitment to ensure this historic virtual holiday celebration will entertain and inspire people across the globe. We have created meaningful content specifically for viewers to appreciate that feature many of our Cherokee culture keepers. We are happy to showcase the Cherokee people, our language, our culture and our traditions online for all the world to see.
Along with First Lady January Hoskin and our family and Deputy Chief Bryan Warner and his family, I’m looking forward to gathering once again in person for the 69th Cherokee National Holiday in 2021. Join us for now, though, in this year’s celebration of our history and our sovereignty at thecherokeeholiday.com.
I wish you a joyous and safe Cherokee National Holiday.
Chuck Hoskin Jr.