Visitors to Cherokee can witness the arresting and powerful, authentic culture of Comanche, Totonac, Polynesians, Cree, Seminole and Cherokee through ancient wisdoms, song, dance, legend, arts and regalia as indigenous tribes gather for the 8th Annual Festival of Native Peoples July 13-14 at the Cherokee Indian Fair Grounds. Considered the finest showcase of native dance, song and art in the southeast, the event honors the collective history, customs and wisdom of some of the oldest documented tribes from across the Americas, including the 11,000-year-old Cherokee civilization which hosts the weekend’s revelry.
“An array of entertainment as diverse as the tribes that provide it ensures visitors to Cherokee will be impressed,” said Robert Jumper, tourism manager for the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. “The tribes are so different, and when we come together to celebrate our collective native heritage, we gain a better understanding of our own history and customs. It’s vital that we continue to learn from our Elders and pass down to the younger generations our living history and culture. Festival of Native Peoples helps us and visiting tribes do just that.”
Among the dancing, singing, prayers and art exhibited, past festival highlights have included the ever popular Totonac pole flyers of Mexico who thrilled audiences as they fly from a ninety-foot pole in a spectacle of swirling color in honor of the sun and the Totonac calendar. Four-time dance champion Tony Duncan of the Apache Arikara has performed the Hoop Dance, and additional performers have included Tezcatlipoca Aztec Dancers from Mexico City, The Pollen Trail Navajo Dancers, the Yurapik Dance Group of Alazka, the Laguna Youth Group from the Laguna Pueblo, the White Mountain Apache Crown Dancers of Arizona, as well as the Crow and Cherokee’s Warriors of AniKituhwa and the Raven Rock Dancers.
Gates open Friday and Saturday at 11 a.m. with performances throughout the day and into the evening. Daily admission is $10 per person; children six and under free. For information call 800.438.1601 or visit www.visitcherokeenc.com.
- EBCI Travel & Tourism