19th Annual Junaluska Wreath Laying Ceremony held
By Scott McKie B.P.
One Feather staff
- Junaluska Leadership Council members Tait Smith (right) and Crystin Jones lay a wreath at the gravesite of famed Cherokee warrior Junaluska on Friday, Nov. 6.
ROBBINSVILLE – Junaluska, the famed Cherokee warrior who walked back to North Carolina after being removed to Indian Territory in Oklahoma, was honored with a wreath laying ceremony at his gravesite on Friday, Nov. 6. The 19th annual event was sponsored by the Junaluska Leadership Council, a group of high school leaders comprised of EBCI tribal members from area high schools including: Cherokee High School, Swain County High School, Smoky Mountain High School, and Robbinsville High School.
“This is a great day for our Tribe,” said Cherokee County – Snowbird Rep. Adam Wachacha who gave a brief history of Junaluska’s life and adventures. “I feel like I’m standing on sacred ground.”
Following the presentation of colors and the Pledge of Allegiance, which was said in the Cherokee language, Brooke Coggins, JLC member, gave the invocation after which JLC chairperson Madison Crowe welcomed the crowd and dignitaries in attendance.
- Cherokee County – Snowbird Rep. Adam Wachacha gave a history of Junaluska during Friday’s event.
JLC vice chairman Tait Smith and JLC member Crystin Jones laid the wreath on the gravesite as the crowd stood in quiet reverence. Smith related the reason the JLC chooses to honor Junaluska yearly, “He came back from Oklahoma just to be with our people. He’s done so much for our people, and I’m glad we do this.”
Crowe commented, “We honor Junaluska because he was one of the greatest leaders of the Cherokee people…he is at the top of the list as one of the greatest Native American people of North America.”
- Cherokee County – Snowbird Rep. Diamond Brown Jr. (right) gives closing remarks during Friday’s event as Junaluska Leadership Council chairperson Madison Crowe listens on.
Mark Junaluska, a direct descendant of Junaluska, commented, “I’m really proud of what he did.” He said that it sometimes bothers him when people talk about the meaning of the name ‘Junaluska’ which translates as ‘One who tried but Failed’.
“If you look at it in terms of where our people are, I don’t think he failed. He did what he thought was right, and I think that’s the Cherokee way.”
Entertainment for Friday’s event was provided by Cassidy Galaviz who played the flute and the Swain County High School Vocal Ensemble who performed two gospel songs.
“Everybody’s done a really good job,” said Cherokee County – Snowbird Rep. Diamond Brown Jr. as he closed the program. “I’m real proud of you all. We honor this man, respectfully.”