By RICHARD D. BIRD
RED CLAY, Tenn. – Red Clay State Park hosted the first annual Cherokee Heritage Festival on Aug. 1-2. On Thursday, July 31, Head Park Ranger Erin Meadley, Rick Bird, and the Friends of Red Clay organization held a press conference to unveil the new Seven Clans Mask carvings that were designed by EBCI artist John Grant. Little Rup Bird cut the ceremonial ribbon to unveil the masks.
Sponsors of the masks included: Cleveland Bradley Chamber of Commerce, Friends of Red Clay, Tennessee Art Commission, Rick and Ramona Bird, and the State of Tennessee.
“We would like to thank all of those who helped to make this event possible including: Principal Chief Michell Hicks, Tribal Council, Ashley Brown, Paxton Myers, Gayle Miller (Cherokee Nation), Gina Black Fox (Cherokee Nation, Red Clay staff, and the Friends of Red Clay,” said Rick Bird. “We would also like to thank Dr. Abrams for a great lecture, and we would also like to extend our thanks to our food vendors, Pat Calhoun, Nikki Crisp, and the Corn Crib. It was a great event, and I am honored to participate in such an historic event.”
The EBCI artists participated in the event: Eddie Bushyhead, Pat Welch, Alva Crowe, Shirley Oswalt, Reuben Teesatuskie, “Champ” George Martin, Robbie Blankenship, Stan Tooni, Freeman Owle, Toni Tahqueete and John Grant.
Dancing was provided by the following EBCI tribal members: Rick Bird, Jailyn Bird, Little Rup Bird, Gracie Bird, Jamie Pheasant, Daily Pheasant, Tray Pheasant, Emie Pheasant, Rue Pheasant, Alva Crowe, Nancy Crowe, and singer Matthew Tooni.
The Wolfetown Indian Ball team provided a stickball demonstration.
EBCI Council Chairwoman Terri Henry gave the opening address and welcome.
The Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma also had representation, and Deputy Speaker of the Council Janelle Fullbright gave the opening address on Sunday. Tribal Council member Victoria Vasquz gave the opening prayer and also demonstrated pottery. Candessa Teehee demonstrated fingerweaving and twining. Betty Frogg demonstrated basket making, and Feather Smith participated in storytelling. Tim Grayson demonstrated arrowheads and blowguns, and Tommy Wildcatt participated as a flute artist. The United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians of Oklahoma sent Sammy Steel who participated as a storyteller and demonstrator.