Cherokee chief points to resurgence of language, culture

Harold F. Schiffman haroldfs at
Fri Sep 10 17:41:01 UTC 2004

Forwarded from the  Claremore Progress

Cherokee chief points to resurgence of language, culture

Thousands of spectators lined the streets of downtown Tahlequah Saturday
morning for a parade of more than 100 entries. The annual Cherokee
National Holiday brought many people to town for the Labor Day Weekend and
the parade was one of several events allowing participants to put their
traditional Cherokee culture on display.

Principal Chief Chad Smith took the stage just after the parade ended and
the crowd assembled on the lawn in front of the Cherokee Courthouse
Square. He began his annual holiday State of the Nation address by
thanking all the volunteers who helped make the holiday successful for
another year. Smith spoke about what he has learned through his
opportunity to lead the tribe for another year, and asked everyone to take
home a video that explains more than what he could during his limited time
on stage.

The Bible tells us, Where there is no vision, the people perish, so we
start today by discussing the state of our great Cherokee Nation, talking
about our vision for the future, said Smith. Our vision is simple: to
rebuild the Cherokee Nation.

He said the tribes benchmark is the Cherokee Nation as it stood before
Oklahoma statehood nearly 100 years ago.

One hundred years from now, we want to have what we had 100 years ago. One
hundred years ago, we had an enriching cultural identity; our government
and our citizens had economic self-reliance and a strong, sovereign
government that protected our people, said Smith.

His past few State of the Nation addresses were combined into one, as the
audience at the annual holiday address was bigger than any hes spoken to
all year.

Our vision for the future can be summed up in just three words: language,
jobs and community, he sad. The central and measurable feature of an
enriching cultural identity is the revival and flourishing of our

The central and measurable feature of economic self-reliance is jobs. Of
course, part of jobs is the ability to earn a job, he said. And the
central and measurable feature for a strong government is community, since
the Cherokee Nation is a community of communities and a family of

Quality of life is important to the Cherokee Nation and its communities,
as well as the survival of the native language. Smith said he is excited
about the way the Cherokee language is being taught to young people,
adding that this is a start to what he hopes will be a rebirth of the

Each year, I am amazed when I see how far weve come as a nation and
people, and where we can go. On the way to a future that we choose, we
must understand where weve been in the past, said Smith. Thanks to the
instruction and leadership of Julia Coates, we have had 3,000 people
finish the 40-hour Cherokee history course, which teaches us lessons of
the past that we can apply to the present and the future. We are now
better prepared to face our adversaries, resolve conflict, and develop a
better quality of life.

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