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4th of July powwow in cherokee, nc

Celebrating culture and community

Powwows serve as important cultural gatherings that honor traditions, celebrate heritage, and foster a sense of community. The Annual Eastern Band Cherokee Powwow is a cultural celebration in Cherokee, NC, that showcases the vibrant traditions of many different Native American tribes and communities. This event features traditional dances, drumming, and regalia, providing a captivating display of Native American heritage.

Attendees can immerse themselves in the rich cultural experience, with opportunities to witness competitive dance competitions, explore indigenous arts and crafts, and savor authentic Cherokee cuisine.

What to Expect at the Powwow

Everyone is invited to the Cherokee Powwow to hear, watch, enjoy, and learn about Native American cultures in the beautiful Smoky Mountains of North Carolina. If you’ve never been to a powwow before, it’s a unique chance to experience authentic Indian culture in a fun, family-friendly event. The annual Cherokee Powwow is the biggest in the southeast, and you’ll have the chance of a lifetime to see some of the most talented Native American dancers, drummers, and singers perform. Here is an overview of what you can anticipate:

  • Grand Entry: The Powwow begins with a Grand Entry, where participants, including dancers, singers, and honored guests, enter the central arena in a procession. This is a ceremonial and respectful start to the event.
  • Dances: Different types of dances are performed throughout the Powwow, each with its own cultural and historical significance. These include Traditional, Jingle, Grass, Chicken, Cloth, Buckskin, and Fancy (one of the most exciting competitions to watch, as dancers perform at dizzying speeds).
  • Drums: The spirit of the drum, not only keeps the beat for the dancers, but acts as the heartbeat for the event. Drumming is a communal activity, and each drum group contributes to the overall musical experience.
  • Singing: Powerful, rhythmic vocals accompany the drummers. Songs have specific structures and lyrics, passed down through generations. There are different song categories, such as honor songs, dance songs, and inter-tribal songs, each serving a unique purpose
  • Regalia: Participants wear traditional regalia, which includes intricately designed clothing, headdresses, accessories, and beadwork. Each piece of regalia often holds personal or cultural significance. The process of creating regalia is a meticulous and often lengthy endeavor, with many pieces being handmade and passed down through generations, contributing to the preservation and continuation of Native American traditions.
  • Ceremonies: Powwows feature special ceremonies such as the honoring of veterans, recognition of achievements, and the crowning of Powwow royalty.
  • Arts and Crafts: Arts and crafts market where artisans and vendors showcase and sell Native American crafts, jewelry, and artwork.
  • Food: Traditional Native American food is available, giving attendees the opportunity to savor authentic dishes like fry bread and other regional specialties.
  • Photography Etiquette: While many singers and dancers will allow you to take photographs with them, remember powwows are sacred events steeped in tradition and protocol, so it is best if you ask first.  


Powwow is one word, not two. The proper spelling is not “pow wow” or “pow-wow”. The English spelling “powwow” originates from the Narragansett word “powwaw,” which does not have a space or a hyphen.

SEE Amazing Photos from Previous Cherokee Powwows

We were fortunate enough to have these incredible photos shared with us by Cherokee photographer Kristy Herron. These rich images, filled with dynamic motion and fantastic color, will put you front and center of the celebration. Look closely and you may find you can almost hear the beat of the drum, the heartbeat of the powwow. Many thanks to Kristy Herron for sharing these gorgeous pictures with us.

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Cherokee Awaits.