By SCOTT MCKIE B.P.
One Feather Staff
Honoring Long Man Day will be held next month in an attempt to get more people involved in land stewardship on the Qualla Boundary.
“The Cherokees have always viewed the river as ‘Long Man’ (gunahita asgaya) whose head lay in the mountains and the feet in the sea,” said Juanita Wilson, a member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI) who is the co-chair of the Nikwasi Initiative and main organizer of the event scheduled for Wednesday, Oct. 20. “Long Man/Person was a revered figure among the Cherokee as one who provided water to drink, cleanliness, food, and numerous cultural rituals tied to medicine and washing away bad thoughts and sadness.”
She added, “This will be much more than a river clean-up. There will be a cultural awakening and/or re-awakening.”
Wilson notes that the tribal waterways must be kept clean. “That’s part of our ancestral roots. We were put on this Earth which was already under natural law from our Creator (Unehlvnvi) and inhabited by animals, plants, water, and trees. Our ancestors understood that the greatest law of all was sustainability.”
Mike LaVoie, EBCI Natural Resources manager, commented, “The EBCI Natural Resources Department is honored to be a part of this important inaugural event that strengthens the tie between Cherokee cultural values and natural resource conservation. We work daily to protect our waterways and this event will expand our efforts by empowering the community to play a larger role in keeping Cherokee’s streams and rivers healthy.”
Gail Lazarus is the associate director of Rivers of Southern Appalachia and the Carolinas, part of the American Rivers organization. “For nearly 50 years, the mission of American Rivers has been to protect wild rivers, restore damaged rivers and conserve clean water for people and nature. Today, this mission is more vital than ever, and we envision a future of clean water and healthy rivers for everyone, everywhere.”
She added, “We are pleased to support the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians in Honoring Long Man with a day of learning and trash cleanup along waters this year in the southern Appalachians. Our National River Cleanup program facilities river cleanups with information and other tools. American Rivers looks forward to celebrating and honoring our connections to rivers and each other by supporting many future years of Honoring Long Man Day cleanups.”
More details, including a volunteer sign-up form, will be forthcoming from the organizers.
For more information, visit the Facebook Event page: Honoring Long Man River Clean Up | Facebook