By Scott McKie B.P.
One Feather staff
The 11th Annual Ned Long Day honored a former Principal Chief and military hero, a master basket maker, and a former Tribal Council representative who has championed for the revitalization of the Cherokee language. The three elders honored at the event, held Wednesday, Oct. 28 at the Cherokee Youth Center, include former Principal Chief Robert S. Youngdeer, Annie James, and Marie Junaluska.
Ned Long Day was established on Dec. 3, 1998 to honor the late Ned Long, an EBCI tribal member and leader from the Snowbird Community.
Wednesday’s event was sponsored by the Junaluska Leadership Council whose members interviewed the three elders and gave presentations on their lives and accomplishments. Each elder was presented a Distinguished Citizens Award.
The Cherokee High School JROTC Color Guard opened the program with the presentation of colors followed by children from Cherokee Elementary who gave the Pledge of Allegiance in the Cherokee language. Flute player Hawk Brown and the Cherokee Elementary Traditional Singers provided entertainment for the event.
Former Principal Chief Robert S. Youngdeer was born April 13, 1922 at Ravensford. The son of Jesse Youngdeer and Martha Jane Owl Youngdeer, he attended Cherokee Boarding School. Chief Youngdeer married Geneva Alene Stafford Youngdeer on Nov. 6, 1943, and together they have two children, Merritt and Judy.
When asked his advice for the younger generation, Chief Youngdeer was quoted as saying, “Don’t smoke, don’t drink, stay in school, get all the education that you can. Honor your country and your parents. Go to church and make your parents proud of you.”
He said he would like to be remembered as “being a good American, and proud to be Cherokee Indian, American, and a Baptist.”
Annie James, of the Big Cove Community, is a fluent speaker of the Cherokee language. The daughter of Minda Hill Wolfe and Jonah Wolfe, she also attended Cherokee Boarding School.
She is known for her exquisite white oak baskets which she learned to make from her parents. Her hobbies include gardening, canning, and of course, making baskets.
When asked her advice for the younger generation, she was quoted as saying, “Stay out of trouble.” James said she would like to be remembered as “being a good woman.”
Marie Junaluska, of the Painttown Community, is also a fluent speaker of the Cherokee language. As a youth, she attended Soco Day School and later attended Riverside Indian School in Anadarko, Okla. She continued her education at Western Carolina University and the University of Tennessee.
Starting in 1974, Junaluska worked for the Cherokee Central Schools in various positions including: Library Assistant, Cherokee Language Interpreter, and Teacher Assistant. From 1981-1996, she served as Indian Clerk and Interpreter for Tribal Council, and from 1997-2009, she served as Painttown Tribal Council representative. She has since returned to her position as Interpreter for Tribal Council.
She has been married to Bill Junaluska for 36 years, and they have two daughters – Sonya Lee Wachacha and Nina Junaluska.
A member of Rock Springs Baptist Church, Junaluska said she would most like to be remembered as a faithful Christian. When asked her advice for the younger generation, she said for them to do well in school and pursue further education in college.