Cherokee Nation Tribal Council brings nationally Acclaimed Play “Sovereignty” to The Joint Inside Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tulsa

Published June 12, 2018

Reading of the critically acclaimed play set for one night only, on June 18

TULSA, Okla. – The Cherokee Nation will host a staged reading of attorney and playwright Mary Kathryn Nagle’s new play, “Sovereignty,” on June 18 at The Joint inside the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tulsa. Tickets are $10 for tribal citizens and $15 for non-citizens and can be purchased online here. The reading of the play begins at 7:30 p.m. Doors open at 6:00 p.m.

“Sovereignty” recently opened in Washington, D.C., at the Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater, garnering national attention and praise across the United States, including articles in the New York Times, the American Theatre Magazine, the National Law Journal and the Tulsa World. This will be the first presentation of “Sovereignty” in Oklahoma.

Set in both the 1830s and today, “Sovereignty” explores the legal fight between the Cherokee Nation and the state of Georgia, which would go on to establish the foundation for sovereignty of all tribal nations in the United States.

Mary Kathryn Nagle

Although victorious in the Worcester v. Georgia case, the Cherokee Nation and other southeastern tribal nations were still forcibly removed from their homelands and marched to Indian Territory at the behest of President Andrew Jackson.

“Sovereignty” shows the resulting divide between Principal Chief John Ross and what came to be known as the Ridge Treaty Party, as both sides fought to preserve their nation against a ruthless government determined to secure their eradication.

The play goes back and forth in time, when a non-Indian challenges the constitutionality of Cherokee Nation’s restored criminal jurisdiction over non-Indians under the 2013 Violence Against Women Act.

Nagle, an enrolled citizen of the Cherokee Nation and direct descendant of John Ridge, wrote “Sovereignty” as a commission for the Arena Stage in Washington, D.C., where the play received its world premiere and opened on Jan. 24, 2018.

This reading of “Sovereignty” will be held in conjunction with Cherokee Tri-Council, a yearly gathering of all three Tribal Councils of the federally recognized Cherokee tribes: the Cherokee Nation, the United Keetoowah Band and the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. The annual event celebrates the culture, shared experiences and continued sovereignty of all three tribes.

The cast features nationally acclaimed Cherokee Nation actress DeLanna Studi, recently seen in her own play, “And So We Walked,” at the prestigious Portland Center Stage. Native Voices at the Autry Ensemble member Darrell Dennis is also featured, along with several actors who starred in “Sovereignty” at Arena Stage, including Jake Hart, Joseph Carlson and Todd Scoffield, as well as other Cherokee Nation citizens, including Candice Byrd and Robert Lewis. Finally, but certainly not least, the play features locally acclaimed, Tulsa-based actor Steve Barker, most recently known for his role as Denny McAuliffe in David Blakely’s “Four Ways to Die” (Heller Theatre).

The June 18 performance of “Sovereignty” is timely, as the Cherokee Nation Tribal Council recently voted to implement VAWA’s restored tribal criminal jurisdiction over non-Indians. The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians implemented this restored tribal criminal jurisdiction in 2015.

“The continued survival and sovereignty of Cherokee Nation are front and center in this play,” playwright and Cherokee Nation citizen Mary Kathryn Nagle said. “It’s an honor to bring ‘Sovereignty’ home to my fellow Cherokee Nation citizens, and an incredible blessing to be able to share it with the sovereign governments of the United Keetoowah Band and the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians.”

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