By SCOTT MCKIE B.P.
ONE FEATHER STAFF
This year’s Cherokee Indian Fair will start on Tuesday, Oct. 2 with the annual parade which will be led by the Remember the Removal Ride (RTR) alumni who were selected as Grand Marshal. Their dedication to health and fitness rings through the theme of the Fair which is “Gadugi: Heartbeat of our Tribe” and speaks to community work.
“Our committee selected the Remember the Removal alumni as the Grand Marshals for this year’s 2018 Cherokee Indian Fair parade because of the process each participant must commit to, the grueling journey they endure, and the cultural and historical impact on their lives as they retract our ancestors’ steps along the Trail of Tears,” said Josie Long, Cherokee Indian Fair Parade coordinator, as to why the committee selected the RTR alumni.
Throughout the Fair, health and fitness will be on display as the EBCI Public Health and Human Services division will have various programs involved. In addition to serving as Grand Marshals, the RTR alumni will set up an information booth during Children’s Day on Wednesday, Oct. 3.
The EBCI Domestic Violence Sexual Assault program will participate in Elder’s Day on Thursday, Oct. 4 and will set up an information booth during Saturday’s Community Day. The Tribal Food Distribution Program will participate in Elder’s Day as will Tsali Manor Senior Citizens Program.
Tsalagi Public Health will have a float in the parade, will have a health education information booth set up throughout the Fair and will be giving flu shots on Elder’s Day. The EBCI Preparedness Program will have information booths during Elder’s Day and Veteran’s Day on Friday, Oct. 5.
Recovery from substance abuse is at the forefront of the Cherokee community these days, and the RezHOPE group is making a presence during Tuesday’s parade as well. “This is a disease (addiction) that takes us out in numbers,” said Kallup McCoy II, an EBCI tribal member from the Birdtown Community and co-founder of RezHOPE. “It is important for us to lock arms so that we can recover in numbers.”
For the parade, RezHOPE is doing a float featuring before and after photos of people who are in recovery. They are also encouraging people to write the name of a loved one lost to addiction on a balloon which will be released at the Fairgrounds following the parade. The Cherokee Indian Hospital will have a float in the parade focusing on prevention and Analenisgi will set up an information booth on Children’s Day as well.
McCoy said people are coming to support the effort from various communities around western North Carolina. “It’s going to take us locking arms and putting aside our differences. We may not get along or agree on everything, but what we can agree on is that it’s killing our people. It’s important for us to put aside these things and to walk in unity. That’s what we’re doing. We’re walking in unity. We’re breaking down barriers.”
McCoy is asking people to submit photos to him of the before and after or memory photos of loved ones to him (788-0483) or to Katelynn Ledford 788-5326.