‘Time for a change’: Cherokee Nation removes Confederate monuments

TAHLEQUAH, Okla. — Two Confederate monuments were removed from Cherokee Nation Capitol Square in Tahlequah Saturday as directed by Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr., the Cherokee Nation announced.

In a press release, the Cherokee Nation said both monuments were placed on capitol square nearly a century ago when the property was a county courthouse and owned by the state. The Cherokee Nation did not place the monuments.

“We’ve suffered for centuries with too many others telling our story for us as they see fit,” Hoskin said in a press release. “It’s difficult to tell our story when we have non-Indian-driven monuments talking about the Confederacy, when they greet people as they come into our Cherokee Nation museum. It was time for a change.”

A fountain memorializing confederate soldiers and Confederate General Stand Watie was dedicated in 1913 by the Daughters of the Confederacy and was situated directly in the center of the capitol square, according to the Cherokee Nation. A second granite monument weighing 13,000 pounds also honored General Watie, who was last to surrender during the Civil War. The monument was dedicated in 1921 by the same organization.

“There are some painful references on these monuments and I think we live in a time when we need to be mindful of the unity we have here on the courthouse Capitol Square,” Hoskin said. “If there is one place at the Cherokee Nation that should stand for unity it should be here. After all, this is where we reconstituted our government and came back together as a people, and I think we need to do that today.”

It took about two hours to remove the monuments. They will be stored by the Cherokee Nation.

“A lot is going on in this country in terms of racial strife and the Cherokee Nation plays a role in healing, and this is one of the ways we can do that,” Hoskin said.

Within the last ten years, city and state leaders throughout the country have reexamined the placement of Confederate monuments in cities.

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