Tahlequah, Okla., the capital of Cherokee Nation, is the latest American city to remove statues honoring the Confederacy amid a widespread national clamoring for an end to systemic racism.
“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,” said Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr.
The two monuments honoring Confederate soldiers and General Stand Watie were erected in 1913 and 1921, when the Cherokee National Capitol was owned by the state, and stood on the grounds until their removal Saturday.
“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.”
Following national outrage over the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police, monuments and statues honoring the Confederacy across the country have been the target of protestors who say it's inappropriate or racist to honor figures who fought to preserve slavery. Some have been removed by governments; others have been torn down by protestors.