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'Step towards healing': Cherokee Nation celebrates Juneteenth

Cherokee nation juneteenth
Posted at 6:36 PM, Jun 19, 2024

TULSA, Okla. — The Cherokee Nation celebrated Juneteenth with songs, poems, and speeches.

Juneteenth is a federally recognized holiday that commemorates the end of slavery in the United States after the Civil War. Gwendolyn Keys came out to the Cherokee Nation ceremony because of her ties to a tragic event.

 "Juneteenth means a lot because I even have a member of my family that actually came down the Trail of Tears,” said Keys.

Staff with the Cherokee Nation said they want to acknowledge those who lost their lives in the event. Keys said she was glad to see that people came out to honor the day slaves were freed.

"It makes me feel very happy that a lot of people came out that's not even of African descent,” Keys said.

At the celebration, Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin signed a proclamation that recognized the day slaves were granted independence. Deputy Chief Bryan Warner said this was a major step towards healing.

"Each and every year, we get a little bit better of understanding the opportunity to harness that talent and power from a group of people who were really kept in the shadows,” said Warner.

Marilyn McDowell said the ceremony was just one of the ways she's celebrating the holiday.

"If I find something to do, I'm going to go do it,” said McDowell.

 The Cherokee Nation staff said they plan to find more ways to remember their past and find more ways to embrace Juneteenth.

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