By ROBERT JUMPER
ONE FEATHER EDITOR
Tourist season is always a busy and exciting time in Cherokee. Local folks and tourists enjoy the sights of summer and the downtown area is packed with shoppers. A common scene is the street or roadside dancers performing in the middle of a huddle of happy men, women and children. Many times, these dancers are the first impression of Cherokee the visitor encounters. Sometimes, it is a positive experience with people getting great entertainment and education. Other times, the visitors leave the performance with a very negative view of what it is to be Cherokee.
Cherokee has permitted this activity for decades. The dancers are independent business people or individuals hired by shops in town to draw prospective clients. The dancers typically perform dances that are not related to the culture of the Cherokee people. Those commonly done are generally grouped under the term “pow wow” dances and tend to be more western in nature.
Many of the dancers will explain to the public the cultural differences in the dress and dance that they perform. They take pride in making sure that they have a good appearance and courteous conduct. Others are not so much interested in putting the Tribe’s best foot forward and the desire for short term gain sometimes prevents them from seeing the benefit of change.
Those who are in the tourism-related businesses, including those who dance at our local establishments, benefit greatly from understanding that good customer service and attention to appearance result in positive experiences for our guests. Those positive experiences turn into more income, repeat visits and a perception that the community takes pride in the product that it delivers.