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Cherokee Nation Removes Two Confederate Monuments From Capitol Square

Two Confederate monuments have been removed from the Cherokee Nation Capitol Square in Tahlequah.

The first was a fountain memorializing Confederate soldiers and General Stand Watie was dedicated in 1913 by the United Daughters of the Confederacy. A second monument also honored Watie and was also dedicated by the UDC in 1921.

The monuments were placed in the square when the property was a county courthouse and owned by the State of Oklahoma. They were not placed by the Cherokee Nation, which reclaimed ownership  of the square in 1979.

Both monuments were lifted by crane on Saturday and put into storage by the Cherokee Nation.

Standing a few feet away at the time the monuments were removed, Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. acknowledged the complexity of Cherokee history. The nation had citizens who fought on both sides of the American Civil War, like General Stand Watie.

Hoskin Jr. said Cherokees need to tell this story from their perspective and not in the form of a monument that was forced upon them.

"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 Jr. 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."

The tribe is working on plans for the Courthouse Square that include commissioning art projects such as a monument dedicated to the Trail of Tears.

Allison Herrera is a radio and print journalist who's worked for PRX's The World, Colorado Public Radio as the climate and environment editor and as a freelance reporter for High Country News’ Indigenous Affairs desk.
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