LAKELAND, Fla. — The Cherokee Nation held its first at-large community gathering of the year, meeting with hundreds of Cherokee citizens in central Florida during a visit to Lakeland on February 11.
More than 400 attended the gathering along with Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr., at-large Council member Julia Coates, members of Cherokees of Central Florida, and representatives of a number of Cherokee Nation departments.
“It was good to be back in Florida surrounded by fellow Cherokees. This was our first at-large event of 2023 and we are gearing up for nearly two dozen other events with Cherokee citizens who live throughout the United States,” said Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. “When we visit with our at-large citizens, we have a great time catching up and sharing the amazing progress we are making in areas such as language perpetuation, education, and at-large community outreach. I look forward to visiting with many of our other Cherokee community groups around the country this year.”
During the Florida gathering, the tribe produced 217 photo identifications for citizens, took in nearly 100 new citizen applications, and registered 73 new voters.
“This is one of the largest groups we have ever had at this event in Florida. When we started these gatherings there were only about 2,200 Cherokee citizens enrolled in the state and now we are at about 4,000. I believe it is safe to say that these meetings have helped to launch that number,” said Monte Hall, a member of the Cherokees of Central Florida organization. “This is our first time meeting again since the pandemic and it is like meeting with your family. It makes you feel like you are at home when you have your tribe around you.”
Speaking at the meeting, at-large Councilor Julia Coates expressed her gratitude to Cherokee Nation’s Language Department for working to find new ways to connect at-large citizens to Cherokee language lessons, including new initiatives that will be put forth soon.
“This is a great community, we have a lot of Cherokees here in Florida and we have a wonderful organization called the Cherokees of Central Florida which brings everyone together and encourages everyone to get involved. After three years of COVID and not being able to see each
other, I know everyone in this region is excited to be back again,” Councilor Coates said. “I know I am really grateful to be here today, I have a lot of long-time friends from the organization. It is just a great day all around.”
During the Cherokee Nation’s at-large community meetings, citizens not only receive tribal updates from elected representatives but also have an opportunity to register to vote in Cherokee Nation elections, learn traditional games and crafts, and meet Cherokee National Treasures who showcase their knowledge and skills of traditional Cherokee practices and provide entertainment for those attending.
Updates regarding future at-large gatherings will be made through the official Cherokee Nation Facebook page at www.Facebook.com/TheCherokeeNation.
The tentative dates for future upcoming at-large gatherings include the following:
· March 18 – Kansas City
· March 19 – Wichita, Kansas
· April 1 – Washington, D.C.
· April 21 – Fresno, California
· April 22 – Bakersfield, California
· April 23 – Greater Bay, Sacramento, California
· May 6 – Dallas, Texas
· May 7 – Fort Worth, Texas
· June 17 – Atlanta
· July 15 – Albuquerque, New Mexico
· July 16 – Denver
· August 5 – Portland, Eugene, Oregon
· August 6 – Seattle, Washington
· August 12 – Oklahoma City
· September 16 – Austin and San Antonio, Texas
· September 17 – Houston, Texas
· October 21 – Los Angeles, California
· October 22 – San Diego, California
· November 18 – Phoenix, Arizona
· November 19 – Tucson, Arizona