The Warriors Take on London1.17.2019
(Photo by Kristy Herron taken in front of Buckingham Palace. L-R: Mike Crowe, Jarett Wildcatt, Bullet Standingdeer, Dawn Arneach, Tyra Maney, Kristy Herron, Nikki Crisp, Bo Taylor, Lloyd Arneach, and Charlie Rhodarmer portraying Henry Timberlake.)
It was a chilly New Year’s Day morning in London, England, but that didn’t stop the Warriors of AniKituhwa from rising at the break of dawn to perform the War Dance for the BBC. Wearing traditional dress, the Warriors danced in spite of the cold weather to kick off the London New Year’s Day Parade (LNYDP). Later, in the parade, they performed in front of 650,000 spectators, while many millions more watched on TV and through a live internet stream.
For many, it was the first time they had ever heard or seen the Warriors of AniKituhwa, and though the weather was crisp, the reception was warm. “AniKituhwa” means “of Kituwah,” which is the namesake of the birthplace of the Cherokee.
For Mike Crowe, manager of the Warriors, the opportunity to perform in London was especially significant, as it helped further the group’s mission of preserving and perpetuating Cherokee culture.
“I’m thankful to be among those who were part of letting the world know that Kituwah people are still alive and well, and who we’ve always been,” he said, adding, “We are still aware of our true identity.”
The War Dance that the Cherokee performed in London, has deep roots. In Cherokee history, it signified a time when men went to war, and was also used to appeal for diplomacy and peace when meeting with other nations. It conveys the strength of the Cherokee nation and was described by Lt. Henry Timberlake as far back as 1762.
(Photo by Kristy Herron. L-R: Jarret Wildcatt, Mike Crowe, Daniel Tramper, Chief Richard Sneed, Sam Sneed, Bo Taylor, and Bullet Standingdeer)
The Opportunity of a Lifetime
The Warriors were asked to participate in the parade by members of the British government—marking the first time in over 255 years that an official Cherokee delegation was invited to England. In addition to the core members of the group, the Warriors were joined by other EBCI members including Richard G. Sneed, Principal Chief of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, as well as Kristy Herron from EBCI Communications, who documented the visit, and Dawn Arneach, who organized the trip for the group.
Highlights of the Trip
For Mike Crowe, who calls himself an “ethnohistorian,” one of the highlights of the trip was a private tour of the British Museum, which offered a special opportunity to view some Cherokee items in the archives, including a pair of Beloved Man Jerry Wolfe’s stickball sticks. “It was the next best thing to having him there with us,” Mike said, “and serves as a testament to the significance of his contributions to our collective efforts.”
Jerry, who served his life as a cultural ambassador for the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, passed away at the age of 93 on March 12, 2018, leaving an indelible mark on the Warriors, and all Cherokees. No doubt he would have been immensely proud of the Warriors spreading Cherokee culture and history in England.
For Dawn Arneach, who arranged the London opportunity for the Warriors, and spearheaded fundraising efforts for the visit, the highlight was a successful trip for the Warriors, tribal members, and the Chief. After all of her hard work making the trip possible, it was especially satisfying to hear the BBC Breakfast show wanted the Warriors to be on their morning show the day of the LNYDP.
(Photo of Mike Crowe by Kristy Herron)
A Warm Reception
“Most people asked where we were from because of our accents and then were fascinated that we were Native Americans,” shared Kristy Herron. Mike echoed this sentiment: “People wanted to know were we actually Native Americans and did we still have our identity, culture, and ceremonies?”
Overall, Mike said he felt a warm reception and general intrigue toward the Warriors. Many LNYDP spectators requested photos with the group, and in addition to the BBC morning show, the Warriors were highlighted throughout the televised parade.
After the parade, the Warriors were invited to return to London, and presented with the possibility of another special opportunity, to potentially visit and perform in Rome.
Want to Help the Warriors Return to Europe?
A big thank-you to Dawn Arneach for arranging this opportunity, as well as the organizers of the London New Year’s Day Parade for helping the Warriors spread their mission to a more global audience.