Twenty-six people representing the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians left Cherokee on Friday, May 18 on their way to Tahlequah, Okla. They were welcomed in Oklahoma with festivities including a pig fry and stomp dance hosted by the Cherokee Nation and the United Keetowah Band.
They began their journey back to Cherokee on Monday, May 21. They will be taking the northern route of the Trail of Tears where most Cherokees traveled and died in 1838-1839. They will engage in a journey of forgiveness.
On Friday, May 25, a “homecoming” event will be held for them. There will be a gathering at Kituwah Mound for all EBCI tribal members with food, entertainment and an opportunity to celebrate where we have come in the past 150+ years.
And, on Saturday, May 26, there will be what the Healing and Wellness Coalition is calling a “Universal Gathering” where all interested people are invited to join in celebration of not only survival but thriving.
To pre-register, visit www.cherokeehealing.com or call Ann 497-0741. EBCI tribal members are free. All others will pay for meals and a donation to support youth participation on the journey at a cost of $75, with some reduced fees for disabled and low income.
Following is the schedule for the events on Friday and Saturday:
Homecoming at Kituwah Grounds
Friday, May 25
6am – Water ceremony off Hwy. 441 North near entrance to Blue Ridge Parkway . Do not cross the bridge or water. There are steps going down to the water – Amy Walker
8am – Entry at Kituwah Ground by Brothers in the Wind
8:30am – Registration with coffee and pastry at Kituwah Ground
9am – Presentation of colors by Steve Youngdeer American Legion Post 143
Welcoming by Chief Hicks, Chief Dugan and Chief Youngdeer
Introduction of Oklahoma tribal leaders and people
9:30am – Kituwah Academy Singers
9:45am – Break
10am – Speaker: Tom Belt on the History of Kituwah
12pm – Lunch on site
1pm – Open mic and youth presentation by those on journey
3pm – Traditional dancers and social dances
4:30pm – Time for singing featuring some groups
6pm – Dinner on site
7:15pm – Symbolic return of soil from journey along with names of deceased along the Trail on ridge at Kituwah
Universal Gathering at Kituwah Grounds
Saturday, May 26
8am – Coffee and pastry along with registration
9am – Procession of Sacred Hoop and introduction of clan boards
9:30am – Welcome and introduction of dignitaries
10am – Panel discussion on Forgiveness – Dr. Ann Bullock, Hugh Lambert, Amy Walker and Rev. Jack Russell
11am – Speaker Don Coyhis summarizing panel and discussing “What is a Healthy Community?”
12pm – Lunch on site with cultural entertainment
1pm – Open mic available. Youth and community response
2:30pm – Break with cultural entertainment
3pm – Talking Circles
5pm – Healing ceremony and closing; retiring the colors by Cherokee JROTC
6:30pm – Dinner on site, evaluations and after dinner fellowship
– Beth Farris, Healing and Wellness Coalition