Last week, the Cherokee Indian Fair Committee announced their selections of the Grand Marshals of the Cherokee Indian Fair Parade set for Tuesday, Oct. 6. They represent the culture and traditions of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. Their names and biographies are as follows:
Micah Swimmer was born and raised on the Qualla Boundary. He resides in the Painttown Community with his wife Carrah and their three children: Dvdaya, Ogana, and Uweluga.
In 2013, Micah was blessed with his dream job; it was a job that allowed him to work with fluent speakers and great people with great ideas on how to save our language. He was named the Early Childhood Supervisor I at Kituwah Academy. He accepted the job to make a difference in saving a dying language.
Renissa McLaughlin, is an enrolled member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. She is the daughter of Myrtle Driver Johnson (Beloved Woman) and TJ McLaughlin of South Dakota. Renissa has three beautiful children, Jordan “Tsigilili”, Justin “Didakiyasgi”, and Joryn “Taliquo”.
Renissa was raised in the Big Cove Community. Today, she resides in the Birdtown Community on the 3,200 Acre Tract.
Renissa attended Russell County High School in Kentucky where she was an Alpha honor roll student. She is a graduate of Cherokee High School, graduating with honors. Renissa attended Southwestern Community College, majoring in paralegal technology, computer science and computer technology. Renissa completed her bachelor’s degree at Montreat graduating Cum Laude and soon followed by completing her master’s in business administration. She is also a licensed Early Childhood Administrator and plans on pursuing her doctorate in the spring of 2016.
In 2004, she served as the interim manager of Cultural Resources and became the Program Manager of the Kituwah Preservation & Education Program later that year. Renissa supervises 42 employees and is very proud of the program accomplishments. The immersion program began with one infant classroom and has grown to four Early Childhood Classrooms and elementary, grades K-6. New Kituwah Academy received SACS Accreditation in 2014 and she is honored to be a part of the students and school’s success.
Renissa credits her mother, Myrtle Driver Johnson, for her passion to preserve the language and being an advocate for culture and language. Her respect and appreciation for veterans is largely due to her grandfather Pat McLaughlin.
Laura Hill Pinnix was born to Jacob Hill and Golina Armachain of the Big Cove Community. She comes from a family of eight children. Her siblings are Maxine Stigman, Calvin Hill, Lucetta Ward, Mary Hill, Jeanette Ward, Dennis Hill and Rachel Hill.
Laura attended Big Cove Day School and graduated from Cherokee High. From there, she attended Bacone College located in Muskogee, Oklahoma. Afterwards, she attended a Teacher Training Program at the University of Tennessee (Knoxville, Tenn.) for her master’s degree.
Laura has worked with Sesame Street in New York City, assisting with their cultural integration. In recognition of her teaching, she was honored as one of the National Indian Educators by the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
She promotes the preservation and teaching of the Cherokee Language. Laura is one of the creators of the free EBCI Cherokee Language App, known as Shi-yo App I. Currently, she is the Director of Culture at the Cherokee Central School System.
Ruby Hornbuckle Lossiah lives in the Big Y Community with her husband, Paul Lossiah. They were married in 1971 and have been married for 44 years. Ruby is a member of the Bird Clan. Her mother was Mary Wolfe, of the Big Cove Community, and her dad was Ben Hornbuckle.
Ruby attended the Cherokee Schools and graduated with a high school diploma in 1969. Later on, she furthered her education at Southwestern Community College and received an AA Degree.
Ruby has taught Cherokee Dances since 2003. At the old Elementary School, Mrs. Gloriette Wahnetah Mills was the main dance teacher. After Ms. Mills became deceased, Ruby continued the teaching. Ruby also worked with Molly Bowman and they worked together for two years. In all, Ruby has been involved with the Elementary and Middle School as the Traditional Dance leader for twelve years.
Lucetta Hill Ward is married to Larry Ward. They reside in the Big Cove Community. They have three children including Consuela Girty, Joe Ward and Toby Ward. Her parents were Golinda Armachain and Jacob Hill of the Big Cove Community.
Lucetta began her education at the Big Cove Day School. She received her associate of arts degree from Southwestern Community College. She received her first AA Degree in 1991. Then she received her early childhood degree in 2003. Her role model and favorite teacher was Mrs. Catherine Sanders.
Prior to coming to the Cherokee Elementary School, she worked with the Headstart children for ten years. In the year 2000, she came to the Cherokee Central Schools to work with the elementary students to teach the Cherokee language.
She has been teaching the Cherokee Language in all grade levels beginning with Pre-K through fifth grade for 15 years. She has been teaching for 25 years.
Lucetta has always taught Cherokee singing with the elementary students through the Traditional Singing Groups. Lucetta says, “It has been a blessing to work with all the students.”
Alyne Stamper was born and raised here on the Qualla Boundary. Her parents were Johnny Long and Bessie Owle Long. She has three brothers –John D., Jamie and Ray Long of Cherokee. She is married to Dave Stamper.
Alyne has four sons including Eddie, Dwayne, Ben and Cain as well as 19 grandchildren. Her family makes her life rich as well as her church family at Rock Springs.
She graduated from the Cherokee Schools in 1967. She attended Western Carolina University and Oakland University, where she received her Associate Degree.
Alyne has worked at the Cherokee School for 44 years where she teaches Cherokee arts and crafts. Alyne has revived the art of rivercane and white oak basketry. Today, there are 31 double rivercane makers that have learned the art of basketry from her teaching.
Shirley Jackson Oswalt was born in November of 1954 with the aid of a mid-wife, Maggie Wachacha. She was raised in Snowbird Community and has lived there all of her life. Her Cherokee name is “Selani”.
She is the daughter of the late Ed and Ella Long Jackson and was blessed with 10 siblings. She has lived in Snowbird with her husband, Wendall Mack Oswalt, for 39 years. They have three children-Erik Oswalt, Leslie McEntire and Kenneth Oswalt. They have four grandchildren, several adopted grandchildren. She feels very fortunate to have been blessed with such a large family.
She considers two of her greatest gifts to be having been raised knowing about God and speaking Cherokee as her first language.
Her hobbies are crafting wit beads, pottery, writing short stories in her language, and sitting around the fire speaking Cherokee.
She is presently teaching her eighth learn of Cherokee language for Robbinsville High School. She also teaches night adult classes in Snowbird and also for the Sequoyah Museum in Vonore, Tenn.
She started Snowbird Summer Camp in 2005. This is a summer camp for Youth 7-16. The camp is a six-week day camp which focuses on language, culture and education.
She feels humbled, blessed and very honored to have been selected as one of the Grand Marshals for the 2015 Fall Festival Parade.
– Biographies provided by Cherokee Indian Fairgrounds