Cherokee Voices Festival: A Celebration of Cherokee Culture and Traditions | Cherokee, NC

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Cherokee Voices Festival: A Celebration of Cherokee Culture and Traditions

Earlier this month, the three federally recognized Cherokee tribes—The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, Cherokee Nation, and United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians—came together to celebrate their culture at the sixth annual Cherokee Voices festival at the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, DC.

Each tribe, while wholly unique, shares a past, language, and traditions, and is committed to preserving and promoting their history and culture to ensure they survive for future generations. Participating in the Cherokee Voices festival is a chance for the federally recognized Cherokee tribes to share the riches of Cherokee life—past and present—with the rest of the world.

The event showcases the shared history and cultural lifeways of the Cherokee through exhibits and demonstrations including storytelling, traditional flute playing, weaponry, wood carving, beadwork, traditional games, basketweaving, and pottery-making, along with music and dance performances.

Many cultural representatives from the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians attended the 2019 Cherokee Voices festival, including Kristy Herron who took these wonderful photos to share on the blog.

At the opening reception of Cherokee Days festival, Big Council Representative Richard French (pictured above on left) spoke on behalf of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. He was presented with a certificate recognizing the collaborative efforts among the three Cherokee tribes and the National Museum of the American Indian to produce the Cherokee Days festival.

Richard French looks on as master basket maker Louise Goings (right) demonstrates how to make a traditional Cherokee weaving pattern as part of an interactive paper mat weaving activity.

A panel discussion was held on Cherokee Women & Governance featuring Catherine Foreman Gray (Cherokee Nation), Kim Teehee (Cherokee Nation), Mary Grayson (Cherokee Nation), Tonya Carroll (Eastern Band Cherokee), and Ernestine Berry (United Keetoowah Band). Eastern Band of Cherokee royalty were also featured in the festival, including Teen Miss Cherokee Destiny Mills, Junior Miss Cherokee Destiny Siweumptewa, and Little Miss Cherokee Morgan Hernandez.

Gabe Crowe demonstrates how to weave white oak and river cane baskets and mats. Gabe, who works at the Oconaluftee Indian Village, wears a hand carved shell, or gorget, around his neck, which is a traditional form of Cherokee adornment. 

Teen Miss Cherokee Destiny Mills performs a traditional dance known as the Beaver Dance, along with some of the Warriors of AniKituhwa and other participants.

Antonio Grant, one of the Warriors of AniKituhwa, who also does shell carving and silver work, is shown wearing traditional clothing.

Many thanks to Kristy Herron for these photos. We look forward to participating in next year’s Cherokee Days festival!

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