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Cherokee Nation reverses executive order, restores Oklahoma state flag display

Cherokee Nation sign
Posted at 9:52 AM, Jun 09, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-15 10:00:01-04

TULSA, Okla. — After signing an executive order stating Cherokee Nation would limit displaying the state flag, Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. said he will reverse it.

On June 3, an executive order was signed, stating the tribe's flag and the American flag can fly on Cherokee Nation properties, but not the state flag. It was originally planned for Sept. 1 that new guidelines were made for times when the Oklahoma flag could fly.

Now, the executive order is being reversed and the Oklahoma state flag will be displayed and flown at all Cherokee Nation properties "indefinitely."

Read Chief Hoskin's full statement below:

Cherokee Nation is both a sovereign tribal government and a democracy. My responsibility to the former prompted the removal of Oklahoma flags from our properties last week, reserving it only for special occasions. My responsibility to the latter leads me to restore the state flag this week.

As a sovereign government that pre-exists the State of Oklahoma, it is my firm and long-held belief that flying the state flag over our properties, particularly our capitol building, is wrong. Flying the flag of the State of Oklahoma on par with the Cherokee Nation flags strike me as wholly inconsistent with tribal sovereignty. Reserving the state flag for occasions honoring state dignitaries and service in Oklahoma National Guard struck me as the right thing to do.

There has been a lot of conversation on this topic in the past week. Reasonable people can disagree on this subject, and they plainly do. During the past week I gave heard from many Cherokee citizens and from members of our Council who I respect deeply. While some have expressed approval, the vast majority were opposed. Opposition to my decision to remove the state flag included a concern that the move further divided the state and the tribe at a time when good relations between both governments are more important than ever. Other critics viewed the presence of the state flag on our properties as not offensive to tribal sovereignty, but reflective of out shared history and that removing that state flag removed part of our history. Some thought the timing of the decision was simply wrong and could be misinterpreted as merely a response to Governor Stitt's unending assault on tribal sovereignty.

My view is that removal of the state flag need not drive a wedge between Oklahoma and the Cherokee Nation. Sowing my division was certainly not my intent. As for our shared history, my sense is that there are many ways to explore that history without placing the Oklahoma flag over symbols of sovereignty such as our capitol complex.

But, notwithstanding my long-held views on the subject, I am at least wise enough to listen to other perspectives, as all leaders should. I am not proud as to refuse to reconsider my own position when confronted with those perspectives. I was particularly moved by concerns by some members of the Council that my executive order created unnecessary division at a time when I have called for cooperation. If there is a time and manner to remove the state flag from our properties perhaps that time is not now by executive action. Perhaps we should reconsider it at some time in the future after more robust public discussion. For the Cherokee people, let this be the beginning of that discussion, not the end. Accordingly, under the terms of my executive order of June 3, 2022, I will restore the flag of the State of Oklahoma to our properties indefinitely.

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