• Julia Coates

DUTY, OBLIGATION, SERVICE, & HONOR


Julia Coates and Father

Duty, obligation, and service are long-standing Cherokee values. Traditionally in our society, there have been different ways that men and women expressed these values. For men, it was often about protection and defense of the communities, and for that, they were honored, just as they are honored in our time for their service in the predominantly-male occupations of law enforcement, firefighting, and the military.

For women, the values of duty, obligation, and service were expressed most often through their contributions to their families and the larger community. This also remains true today. Women are the majority of those who work in fields that contribute most to family and community well-being – health care, education, and social work.

In the past, the service of women in homes and communities was deeply honored as well by Cherokees. But in our time, “honor” is not a word we see much in relation to those who work in health care, education, and social work. Is that because in our modern era, women in general are not honored as we have been in the past? Or is it because the work of people in these service occupations – both men and women - is just not as visible to us? After all, they are not issued impressive uniforms, awarded medals, or given ranks and titles.


Most Cherokees learn the values of duty, obligation, and service in their families, their communities, their churches, and their ceremonial grounds. They express them not to bring honor to themselves, but because its shows honor for their people. How many times have I heard Cherokee Nation employees say that they continue to do the work, even in discouraging conditions, because they are doing it for the Cherokee people? And the work they most often do on behalf of the Cherokee people is in health care, education, and social work.


It’s the same reason I work in At Large communities, in education, and providing training for other tribes. I see Indian people changing, I see them growing, I see us becoming more capable and confident. My great appreciation goes out to the thousands of men and women who work as Cherokee Nation employees, and in their families and communities, both within the tribe’s boundary and At Large. I honor your work, and I honor the people who continue to do it without celebration or fanfare because they believe in it and they know it matters.


“I’ve known Julia through her online courses at UCLA and through the Cherokee PINS project. I applaud Julia’s commitment to providing infomation about important events n our recent history that affect our current socal and governmental life. Julia has opened so many opportunities for connection and participation that At-Large citizens never had before.”-Philip Viles, Jr., Chief Justice, Cherokee Nation Judicial Appeals Tribunal (1976-2002)



“Julia’s expertise on Cherokee History and the birth of our government is remarkable. I’ve attended her history classes seven times and was always enthralled with the stories of our ancestors and what we endured to be the Nation we are today. Through her classes, the At-Large community groups, and a fantastic Summer Abroad program in Tahlequah, I feel that I gained what I would have otherwise lost. Julia made these possible and it’s a wonderful gift.”-Missy Carey, 35 years newspaper industry, volunteer Firefighter.

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