TAHLEQUAH, Okla. — The Cherokee National Holiday commemorates the signing of the Cherokee Nation Constitution in 1839, which re-established the tribe’s government in Indian Territory after forced removal from the Cherokees’ original homelands in the Southeast.
For the second year in a row, activities for the holiday will be held virtually due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The Cherokee Nation made the decision to cancel in-person festivities due to the ongoing surge of COVID-19 Delta variant cases and hospitalizations across the Cherokee Nation Reservation
The Cherokee Nation health system recorded 786 new COVID-19 cases the week of Aug. 1, a week-to-week increase of more than 370% compared to the first week of July, and the highest recorded number of weekly positive cases since January.
According to Cherokee Nation Chief, Chuck Hoskin Jr., this upward trend in cases has continued since June.
Approximately 95% of new COVID-19 cases in the tribe’s health system are among unvaccinated patients, and about 90% of new cases are from the highly contagious Delta variant, according to the Cherokee Nation.
“The health and safety of our Cherokee people must be at the core of every decision we make,” Chief Hoskin said. “Today, unfortunately, the W.W. Hastings Hospital Intensive Care Unit remains full due to the COVID-19 Delta variant, hospitalizations are on the rise, and we grieve over the loss of Cherokee speakers and elders who fell ill at the hands of this virus. Though we all looked forward to a return to in-person fellowship and celebratory activities for this year’s 69th annual Cherokee National Holiday, it is critical that we continue to rely on medical science, facts and compassion as we make these decisions."
Chief Hoskin said the decision was guided by the Cherokee Nation Public Health team.
"Large, in-person gatherings during the Cherokee National Holiday weekend when tens of thousands of visitors would typically visit the reservation to celebrate presents too great a risk to the health and safety of our Cherokee families and communities,” Chief Hoskin said. “While this is disappointing, we must all remember that protecting one another is the Cherokee way.”
Cherokee Nation cancelations include the Holiday weekend’s annual inter-tribal powwow, softball tournament, golf tournament, stickball exhibition, traditional games, car show and downtown artisan markets.
"Shifting our focus to virtual activities will provide an extra level of protection and will once again allow Cherokees all around the world to take part in the celebration of our Cherokee heritage, traditions and culture during the Holiday weekend.”
Visit the official website of the Cherokee National Holiday at www.thecherokeeholiday.com for more information on virtual events.
- The annual State of the Nation address by Chief Hoskin will be online Saturday, Sept. 4, at 11:30 a.m.
- The tribe will also host the Drive-In Movie Nights on September 2-4 at 8:00 p.m. at One Fire Field west of the Cherokee Nation W.W. Keeler Tribal Complex in Tahlequah.
- The annual Holiday quilt show and art show will also be broadcast virtually, as will the Miss Cherokee competition, and video demonstrations of traditional Cherokee culture and language.
- The Drive-In Fireworks Show will take place at Cherokee Springs Plaza on September 5 at 8 p.m.