2018 Cherokee Voices Festival Set for June 95.22.2018
(Micah Swimmer and daughter Dvdaya dancing at the 2017 Cherokee Voices)
Now in its 21st year, the Cherokee Voices Festival celebrates thousands of years of tradition in the southern Appalachians with the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI). A free daylong event of continuous performances and crafts demonstrations, Cherokee Voices shines a light on the people of Cherokee who carry traditions of the culture that have been passed down for generations.
“Overall, the purpose of the event is to publicly celebrate traditional Cherokee culture—this includes arts and crafts, dance, storytelling, music, food, living history, and more,” says Barbara Duncan, Ph.D., Education Director at the Museum of the Cherokee Indian, and the original organizer of this event. The next Cherokee Voices Festival will take place on Saturday, June 9, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Museum in Cherokee, NC.
A Celebration of Cherokee Culture
Similar to last year’s event, the festival theme is “passing the knowledge to the rising generation,” and will feature many young Cherokee performers, artists, and demonstrators who have honed their crafts by learning from members of their family and the community. Visitors will see photography and silversmithing by young artists as well as established master artists and elders. Unlike a craft fair with only ready-made items for sale, the festival features items and demonstrations by artisans, creating their works in real time. Guests are invited to talk with the artists and learn more about their work and process.
Invited elders include Beloved Woman and award-winning potter Amanda Swimmer who was born in 1921 and raised on the Qualla Boundary. Self-taught, Amanda hand builds and fires pots in the ancient tradition, drying the pieces in the sun before firing them in an open pit.
Known for their wood carvings and white oak basket making, respectively, husband-and-wife duo Butch and Louise Goings will also participate in the festival. “In our culture, we believe that all things are connected,” said Louise, who, along with Butch was honored as the 2016 Community Spirit Award Honoree by First Peoples Fund of South Dakota. “Therefore, we try to use all the skills and knowledge we have to strengthen our community. Even though we are known for basket making and carving, we also use other skills and knowledge we have to help our community.”
Storyteller Lloyd Arneach is also slated to share his craft. The son of the first woman ever elected to the Tribal Council and the grandson of Beloved Woman Lula Owl Gloyne, Lloyd has been a full-time storyteller and historian for 25 years. Past appearances have taken place at prestigious venues, such as the Kennedy Center, National Folklife Festival, and National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C.
Cherokee Voices appeals to all the senses, including the ears. Traditional Cherokee music, including flute, will provide the soundtrack for this culturally rich experience. Flutist John Grant Jr. is slated to play. While he will be unable to attend this year’s festival, flutist Matthew Tooni played this event for the second time in 2017. “I really enjoy the festival because it gives me an opportunity to see folks who I don’t usually get to see,” says Matt. “My flute playing style—I like to think it is unique from other player’s. I love upbeat tempos and making the flute sort of like a percussion instrument by playing it a certain way to get different sounds.”
Mark Your Calendar
Although activities, performances, and demonstrations take place throughout the day, here are some specific times to note:
Don’t miss the Cherokee Voices Festival tomorrow (June 8) from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Museum of the Cherokee Indian. Check out the schedule of cultural activities:
10:00 a.m. - Lloyd and Dawn Arneach
10:30 a.m. - Alfred and Maybelle Welch
11:00 a.m. - Chi Shipman
11:30 a.m. - “Unto These Hills” (preview)
12:00 p.m. - Raven Rock Dancers
12:30 p.m. - Blowgun contest
1:00 p.m. - Kathi, Leroy, and Justice Littlejohn
1:30 p.m. - Micah Swimmer dancers
2:00 p.m. - Jarrett Wildcatt
2:30 p.m. - Recognition of elders and families
3:00 p.m. - Freeman Owle
3:30 p.m. - Warriors of AniKituhwa
What: 2018 Cherokee Voices Festival
Where: Museum of the Cherokee Indian at 589 Tsali Blvd. in Cherokee, NC
When: Saturday, June 9, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Also, be on the lookout for to-be-announced dates for the Museum of the Cherokee Indians inaugural exhibit in their new gallery spotlighting the work of Cherokee artists 40 and under—the millennial generation.