The Cherokee Nation, Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians and United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians are partnering again to host the third annual Cherokee Days at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C.
The three-day event is June 10-12 and free to attend. Cherokee Days showcases a timeline of historical milestones, live cultural art demonstrations and scheduled cultural performances. Among the activities is a make-and-take experience, which allows children to create traditionally inspired Cherokee items.
“Cherokee Days at the National Museum of the American Indian has grown into something truly special,” said Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker. “This three-day collaboration between the Cherokee and the Smithsonian is easily one of the best showcases of tribal culture and history in the world. Since starting this annual partnership in 2014, we have enlightened and educated thousands of people about who the Cherokee people were in our historical homelands in the Southeast, and who we are today, in the 21st century.”
Cherokees originally inhabited the lands in what are now present-day Tennessee, North Carolina, Alabama, Virginia, West Virginia, Kentucky and Georgia. Following the 1838 forced removal of about 16,000 Cherokees to present-day Oklahoma, a few Cherokees were able to evade relocation and settled permanently in North Carolina, forming the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians.
The Cherokees forced along the Trail of Tears were led by Principal Chief John Ross and established Tahlequah, Oklahoma, as the Cherokee Nation’s new capital in 1839. The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, headquartered in Cherokee, North Carolina, became federally recognized in 1868.
The United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians also calls Tahlequah home and became federally recognized in 1946.
Leaders of the three federally recognized tribes continually work together and meet annually to advance language preservation and cultural policies.
“Cherokee Days is a unique opportunity for visitors and guests to experience the rich culture and history of the Cherokee people,” said Principal Chief Patrick Lambert of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. “At a time where there is increasing demand to learn more about the First Americans, working together the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, the Cherokee Nation and the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee weave an incredible experience in the heart of the nation’s capital. This special festival will continue to spark the interest and warm the hearts of all those who join.”
“When folks hear the word Cherokee, many think of the Trail of Tears or Sequoyah, who developed the written language, but there is so much more to our collective and intertwined histories. The Keetoowah people left our homelands in the East and inhabited present day northeast Arkansas nearly a decade before removal, prior to settling into Indian Territory,” said United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Principal Chief Joe Bunch. “Cherokee Days at the Smithsonian promises to be a highly informative and enlightening learning experience. We have a wonderful opportunity to share our unique story and our culture with thousands of visitors in Washington, D.C.”
A diverse and multifaceted cultural and educational enterprise, the National Museum of the American Indian is an active and visible component of the Smithsonian Institution, the world’s largest museum complex. The NMAI cares for one of the world’s most expansive collections of native objects, including photographs, paper and photo archives, and media covering the entire Western Hemisphere, from the Arctic Circle to Tierra del Fuego. For more information, visit www.AmericanIndian.si.edu.
Those unable to attend the event in person can still take part in the Cherokee Days experience through a new interactive website by visiting Anadisgoi.com/CherokeeDays. The site provides a detailed agenda of daily activities and performances, access to information and photos from each tribe’s social media accounts, and live streaming throughout the event.