History museum

The Story of the Cherokee Freedmen Unfolds in a New Exhibit at the Cherokee National History Museum | New

TAHLEQUAH – Examine the history of black slavery in the Cherokee Nation through a new exhibit “We Are Cherokee: Cherokee Freedmen and the Right to Citizenship.”

The exhibit opened Monday at the Cherokee National History Museum and details the struggle the Cherokee Freedmen endured to reclaim their treaty-protected right to citizenship of the Cherokee Nation.

“The enslavement of other human beings and the resulting denial to them and their descendants of their basic rights for over a century is a stain upon the Cherokee Nation. It is a stain that must be lifted,” a said Cherokee Nation Senior Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. “We now have over 11,800 registered decent freed citizens in the Cherokee Nation, but our work has only just begun. We remain committed to reconciliation and hope that through at this exhibit, we will be able to amplify the voices, stories and future of the Cherokee Freedmen.

The exhibit is presented as part of the Cherokee Freedmen Art and History Project, created by Cherokee Nation Senior Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr., which seeks materials and stories to expand the Cherokee Nation’s understanding of the experience of the Cherokee Freedmen.

This experience is shared from the first known participation of slavery in the 18th century through various historical milestones in the decades that followed, including: the adoption of plantation-style slavery among the Cherokees, the displacement of Indians to the West and the American Civil War. It also explains how the 1866 treaty freed the slaves of the Cherokee Nation and made them citizens of the Cherokee Nation.

The exhibit also discusses the tribe’s actions to strip freedmen and their descendants of tribal citizenship and examines the 2017 U.S. District Court decision that upheld the 1866 treaty and reaffirmed Cherokee freedmen as citizens of the Cherokee Nation.

Cherokee Freedmen stories, histories, images and documents are featured throughout the exhibit, alongside nine original artworks by Cherokee Nation artists created specifically for this project. The exhibit also features baskets of the late Rodslen Brown, a Cherokee Nation citizen of Freedmen descent.

A special reception will be held to commemorate the exhibit on September 3 at 2 p.m. at the Cherokee National History Museum. It is open to the public and free.

For more information about Cherokee Nation cultural tourism, including museum operations, please call (877) 779-6977 or visit www.VisitCherokeeNation.com.