By SCOTT MCKIE B.P.
ONE FEATHER STAFF
The frog swallowed the sun in Cherokee on the afternoon of Monday, Aug. 21 as a rare total solar eclipse was visible. According to greatamericaneclipse.com, the next total solar eclipse will not occur in North American until April 8, 2024, but Cherokee is not in the path of that totality.
Hundreds of people gathered at the Cherokee Indian Fairgrounds on Monday for the Cherokee Cultural Eclipse Celebration. The event featured storytellers Mike Crowe and Jarrett Wildcatt, the Warriors of Anikituwah, a northern-plains drum group from Cherokee known as Thunder Bear Singers, and several bands.
Crowe told the Cherokee traditional story of “The Frog Swallowing the Sun” which explains the eclipse. As told, after the frog swallows the sun, people must make noise to drive the frog away so the sun will return. Participants in Monday’s celebration used rattles, drums, and other noise-makers to help drive out the frog.
Russell Morgan came from Chevy Chase, Md. for the event. He used a special filter he made to view the rare eclipse through his binoculars. “It was a cool place,” he said of Cherokee. “We wanted to come down here because we thought it’d be different and it definitely is.”
The eclipse reached totality, which was only visible in 12 states from North Carolina to Oregon, around 2:35pm. The Fairgrounds went from a bright, sunny day to dusk, and totality lasted a little more than two minutes. Then, the frog was driven out and the sunlight returned.
Glen Blumhorst, president and chief executive officer, of the National Peace Corps Association, came to Cherokee for the event with a small group of fellow Peace Corps volunteers. “We came down from the Washington, DC and Maryland area. We wanted to come here to see what was going on with Native Americans. We went to the Museum and were very interested to see the program here.”
He added, “We also wanted to be where it would be totally dark. We’re in the thick of it here. We were going to have 85 percent up in the Washington, DC area. We wanted to be in totality. It’s a beautiful drive and beautiful country down here. I really love it.”
Angel Buitron, from Forest City, came to the event with her children. She summed up the eclipse in one word, “Awesome!”