With tens of thousands of people coming for the Cherokee National Holiday this weekend, expect the whole town to get involved.
“This is probably the single biggest weekend each year in Tahlequah,” said Kate Kelly, Tahlequah Chamber of Commerce Tourism Director. “Strike that. It IS the biggest weekend in terms of visitors.”
Planners say they expect 100,000 people to come for the celebration, which runs Friday through Sunday. The holiday marks the signing of the 1839 Cherokee Nation Constitution, which created tribal government and reunited eastern and western Cherokees, said LeeAnn Dreadfulwater, Cherokee Nation spokesman.
Events include the principal chief’s annual State of the Nation address, a parade through downtown Tahlequah, an expanded powwow, traditional Native American game competitions, traditional arts and crafts, traditional foods, cultural tours and bingo games. Events will be held throughout the town.
The parade begins at 9:30 a.m. Saturday and goes along Muskogee Avenue through downtown Tahlequah.
Principal Chief Bill John Baker will deliver his State of the Nation speech at 11:30 a.m. at Courthouse Square, on Muskogee Avenue between Delaware and Keetowah Streets. The speech, Baker’s first since his election in 2011, gives Cherokee Nation citizens a chance to hear about progress over the past year.
After the address, the Cherokees will honor three National Treasures, members of the Cherokee Nation who have made significant contributions to the culture. This year’s Treasures are:
• Tonia Hogner-Weavel, who has been making Cherokee clothing for more than 20 years.
• Victoria Mitchell Vazquez, a potter who received a fellowship to the Native Arts Program from the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian in 2005.
• Cecil Dick, who died in 1992, known as the “Father of Cherokee Traditional Art.”
The holiday also will feature competitions and demonstrations in traditional games such as stickball, blowgun, cornstalk shoots and marbles.
Visitors could learn about stickball and play a social game 5:30 p.m. today at the male recreation center fields on the Cherokee Nation complex. Dreadfulwater said. “A hardcore competitive game will be 9 p.m. Saturday at Sequoyah School.”
An art show will run today through Sunday at the Armory Municipal Center, 100 N. Water St. Arts and crafts booths will be scattered throughout the Courthouse Square, Cherokee Heritage Center and Cherokee Nation Complex grounds Friday through Sunday.
People can tour historic Seminary Hall from 1 to 6 p.m. on the Northeastern State University campus.
The Cherokee Casino will sponsor a fireworks display south of Tahlequah at 9:30 p.m. Saturday.
Reach Cathy Spaulding at (918) 684-2928 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you go
WHAT: Cherokee National Holiday.
WHEN: Today through Sunday.
WHERE: Throughout Tahlequah.
• Stickball game — 5:30 p.m. Male Recreation Center fields.
• Children’s fishing derby — 7:30 a.m. to noon, pond east of Cherokee Complex.
• Cornstalk Shoot — 7:30 a.m., west of the tribal complex.
• Cherokee Holiday Parade — 9:30 a.m., downtown Tahlequah.
• State of the Nation — 11:30 a.m., Courthouse Square.
• Living Treasures Awards — noon, Courthouse Square.
• Miss Cherokee Crowning — noon, Courthouse Square.
• Blowgun Contest — 1 p.m. Heritage Center.
• Fiddlers Competition — 1 p.m. Talking Leaves Job Corps Center.
• Veterans Reception — 4 p.m., Place Where They Play.
• Indian Food Cookoff — 5 p.m. west of the complex.
• Stickball — 9 p.m. Sequoyah High School football stadium.
• Fireworks — 9:30 p.m., Cherokee Casino, Tahlequah.
• Worship Service — 10 a.m. Sequoyah High School Chapel.
• Free lunch featuring Cherokee foods — 1 p.m., Sequoyah School Cafeteria.