U.S. Capitol’s 2022 Christmas tree celebrates Cherokee culture


2022 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree Youth Tree Lighter, Catcuce "Coche" Micco Tiger, with parents Katie and Catcuce Tiger and brother Sha-li-gu-gi. Coche is a citizen of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians and also has ancestry from the Seminole Tribe of Florida and Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma. He gets his name from his dad, which is a Seminole name. Catcuce means ‘Little Tiger', Micco means ‘Leader/Chief’ in the Creek language.

The Christmas tradition of setting up a “People’s Tree” on the West Lawn of the United States Capitol is personal this year for those native to Western North Carolina.

Both the 78-foot red spruce tree, named Ruby, and the youth tree lighter, Catcuce “Choche” Micco Tiger, are from WNC, and both are deeply connected to the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. Tiger is a citizen of the EBCI, which gave its blessing to the red spruce, according to a collection of press releases from the United States Forest Service.

“Our family is excited and humbly honored that Coche was selected to be the 2022 Youth Christmas Tree Lighter,” the Tiger family said through Adrianne Rubiaco, a spokesperson for the Forest Service. “This creates the opportunity for Coche to represent the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI) and to emphasize that the Tribe’s language and customs are thriving in modern times.”

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View of Ruby the Red Spruce, the 2022 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree, in the background peaking over blooming rhododendrons.

Since the red spruce was harvested in the Pisgah National Forest, the ancestral lands of the Cherokee people, the Tiger family said this year’s People’s Tree presents a unique opportunity to highlight the EBCI language and tradition of storytelling on a national platform.

Tiger will share the Cherokee legend of the evergreen trees and his Cherokee introduction during various events in Washington, D.C., the release said. The tree’s lighting will take place at a special event on Nov. 29, which can be viewed in person or on the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree Facebook page.

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