Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker and first lady Sherry Baker
wave to the crowd during the 64th Cherokee National Holiday parade in 2016.
The Cherokee Nation will host the 65th Cherokee National Holiday this Labor Day weekend when more than 100,000 visitors travel to Tahlequah for the annual celebration of history, culture and art.
This year’s event is Sept. 1-3 and features more than 50 activities, including an intertribal powwow, parade, arts and crafts vendors, music and a variety of competitions.
This year’s holiday theme is “Water is Sacred” and is a reminder that water has long been a symbol of healing for Cherokees. Over the past year, Cherokee Nation has put a renewed focus on preserving water rights and natural resources.
“The Cherokee National Holiday marks the largest annual homecoming of Cherokees and is a three-day celebration of our history and heritage. It’s something we all look forward to every summer,” Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker said. “From the world-famous powwow to the downtown parade, Cherokee cultural demonstrations to the traditional games, great food and wonderful music, there is something for everyone to experience. We encourage all people who are interested to come out and celebrate with us and enjoy Cherokee Nation’s renowned hospitality.”
The Cherokee National Holiday commemorates the signing of the Cherokee Nation Constitution in 1839, which re-established the tribe’s government in Indian Territory after forced removal from the Cherokees’ original homelands in the Southeast.
Several new events are on schedule for the 2017 Cherokee National Holiday, including three book-signings for “Cherokee National Treasures: In Their Own Words.” The Cherokee Heritage Center will host two of the signings, one on Aug. 19 and another on Sept. 3. The third book-signing will be Aug. 31 at the Cherokee Nation Gift Shop. The book gives readers an opportunity to get to know each Cherokee National Treasurer through their own stories. Several Cherokee National Treasures will be on hand to sign copies of the book, which can be purchased at the Cherokee Nation Gift Shop.
Cherokee stories featuring Robert Lewis will also be held Sept. 2 at the Diligwa Cherokee village at the Heritage Center. In addition, a Tribal Film Festival will be held at the Northeastern State University Jazz Lab on Sept. 1 and at the NSU Center for Performing Arts on Sept. 2.
Other events this year include the Jason Christie Children’s Fishing Derby, traditional food demonstrations, activities for children and elders, athletic events and more.
“Every year the Cherokee National Holiday serves as a homecoming for many of our citizens who travel from all across the world to celebrate our history and culture,” Community Tourism Manager Bayly Wright said. “There really is something for everyone to see and experience, whether they’ve been here year after year or are visiting for the very first time. We hope everyone will join us for this year’s Cherokee National Holiday in Tahlequah.”
Several marquee events are also set for the annual celebration. The Cherokee National Holiday parade travels down Muskogee Avenue in historic downtown Tahlequah and is the only parade to be announced in both Cherokee and English. It begins at 9:30 a.m. at the corner of Crafton Street and Muskogee Avenue. For those unable to attend, the parade will be broadcast in the Cherokee language on KTLQ AM 1350 radio.
Following the parade, Principal Chief Bill John Baker will give the State of the Nation Address at the Cherokee National Courthouse Square in downtown Tahlequah. The speech is a tradition at this site, dating back to the mid-1800s. Chief Baker’s address will provide highlights from the tribe’s past year.
The Cherokee National Holiday Intertribal Powwow is one of the most popular events of the weekend. This two-night event provides more than $35,000 in prize money for southern strait, northern traditional, fancy, jingle and other dance categories. The powwow begins at 5 p.m. Friday and 2 p.m. Saturday with grand entry at 7 p.m. both nights.
For a complete list of events for the 65th Cherokee National Holiday, visit www.cherokee.org and click on the Cherokee National Holiday link and scroll to bottom for the Cherokee National Holiday events.
Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director
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