For the first time in intertribal history, the Cherokee Nation and Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians are partnering to host “Cherokee Days,” a public educational program that shares the true Cherokee story.
The historic event is April 3-5 at the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C.
The Cherokee Nation and Eastern Band will share the Cherokee story that spans time immemorial to the Trail of Tears to the successes of the modern tribes. The educational program includes an exhibit showcasing a timeline of historical milestones, live cultural art demonstrations and scheduled cultural performances.
“Partnering with the National Museum of the American Indian is a significant opportunity to showcase Cherokee heritage and history at a national level. We will showcase our cultural artisans and historians from the Cherokee Nation, United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians and the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians,” said Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker. “It is important for the Cherokee Nation to participate in this unique event with our Cherokee brothers and sisters. We all come from one fire and we are one people. While we were once divided, today we are unified and our respective sovereign governments are stronger than ever. A critical part of our cultural preservation is embracing and sharing our rich and storied narrative in America’s history and its future.”
Cherokees originally inhabited the lands in what are now present-day Tennessee, North Carolina, Alabama and Georgia. Following the 1838 forced removal of 16,000 Cherokees to present-day Oklahoma, many defied the relocation and remained in North Carolina.
The Cherokees forced along the Trail of Tears were led by Principal Chief John Ross. They established Tahlequah as the Cherokee Nation’s capital in 1839. The Eastern Band, which resides in Cherokee, N. C., became federally recognized in 1868.
In 1984, the tribes met in Red Clay, Tenn., for the first time since the tribe was divided. During the last 30 years, the Cherokee Nation and Eastern Band have worked together on numerous projects, including maintaining a unified language.
“Cherokee Days at the National Museum of the American Indian is a great event for us because we can come together with our family, the Cherokee Nation, to celebrate our shared history and heritage,” said Principal Chief of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians Michell Hicks. “Our tribes have been meeting for more than 25 years to collaborate on issues important to our people, and this event is another opportunity for that collaboration to continue.”
This historic joint endeavor will occur at the National Museum of the American Indian as it celebrates not one, but four exciting milestones: the 25th anniversary of the signing of the charter establishing the museum; the 20th anniversary of the opening of the museum in New York City; the 15th anniversary of the opening of its Cultural Resource Center; and the 10th anniversary of the opening of the museum on the National Mall 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 artifacts, including objects, photographs, archives and media covering the entire Western Hemisphere, from the Arctic Circle to Tierra del Fuego.
For more information, visit www.nmai.si.edu.