255 Years in the Making: Cherokee Warriors Perform in the London New Year’s Day Parade | Cherokee, NC

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255 Years in the Making: Cherokee Warriors Perform in the London New Year’s Day Parade

The Warriors of AniKituhwa, joined by Principal Chief of the Eastern band, Richard G. Sneed, and several other members of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians will perform in London’s New Year’s Day Parade on January 1, 2019, after receiving a special invitation from British government officials.

The meaning of this journey stretches beyond traveling 4,000+ miles to share Cherokee history in one of the world’s biggest parades. It’s a trip that makes history—marking the first time in over 255 years that an official Cherokee delegation has visited England.  

Back in 1762, Lt. Henry Timberlake, a colonial Anglo-American officer, journalist, and cartographer from Virginia, visited the Cherokee people and later published a memoir detailing their way of life. It was during this meeting that Cherokee leader Ostenaco said he wanted to meet the king of England. Timberlake agreed to arrange the meeting, and in May of 1762, he escorted Ostenaco and two other Cherokee leaders to England, where they met with King George III and drew huge crowds during their stay.

The historic meeting is showcased in the Emissaries of Peace exhibit at the Museum of the Cherokee Indian. It’s a moment frozen in time: displaying two contrasting cultures as they emerge from war and make peace. The figures are life sized, with artifacts and objects of daily life, including weapons, pipes, eyeglasses, uniforms, clothing, and jewelry. The exhibit also features archaeological treasures, period artwork, music, and video. Special pop-up books and graphic panels tell the story for children.

Fast forward 255 years, and the journey of the Cherokee team making their way to perform in London’s New Year’s Day Parade is set in motion. During the parade, the Warriors will start with a two-minute version of the War Dance, before walking the two-mile parade route.

In an interview with the Cherokee One Feather, Bo Taylor, Museum of the Cherokee Indian executive director and member of the Warriors of AniKituhwa, shared his thoughts on the War Dance.

“When Timberlake came through Cherokee country, he thought it was a welcoming dance, but it wasn’t really a welcoming dance. It was a way to let him know that we were still warriors. We were willing to protect our land and our people. So, that was why they were doing it,” he said.  

To conclude London’s New Year’s Day Parade, the Warriors hope to do the Friendship Dance, which invites spectators to link hands and dance in a circle, with the warriors singing and leading the way, in the center of it all.

Watch Live

London’s New Year’s Day Parade will be live-streamed at lnydp.com starting at noon in London, which is 7 am EST. Watch live along with 600 million viewers and thousands of others along the route.

We are honored and thrilled to have the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians participate in London’s New Year’s Day Parade, and will be eagerly watching from this side of the pond. A big shout of thanks to Dawn Arneach, Executive Assistant at the Museum of the Cherokee Indian, for creating the opportunity for the Warriors and other Eastern Band of Cherokee representatives to participate in the parade, and for spearheading the fundraising efforts to make it all happen!

Dawn Arneach accepts the official invitation to the London New Year's Day Parade, photo via the Cherokee One Feather. 

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