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'Time for a change:' Cherokee Nation removes monuments dedicated to Confederate soldiers

'Time for a change:' Cherokee Nation removes monuments dedicated to Confederate soldiers

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A pair of Confederate monuments were removed from Cherokee Nation Capitol Square in Tahlequah Saturday.

Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr., in a prepared statement, said both monuments, placed on capitol square nearly 100 years ago when the property was a county courthouse and owned by the state, needed to be removed because “it was time for a change.”

“We’ve suffered for centuries with too many others telling our story for us as they see fit,” Hoskin said a news 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 wave of Confederate memorial removals that began in 2015 is again rolling, with more relics being removed after the killing of George Floyd by police in Minnesota.

A fountain memorializing confederate soldiers and Confederate Gen. Stand Watie, who was Cherokee, was dedicated in 1913 by the Daughters of the Confederacy. A second monument, dedicated in 1921, honored Watie. He was last soldier to surrender during the Civil War.

“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.”

“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.

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