Cherokee Cultural Celebration: Two days of endless experiences

By COLBY DENTON
Posted 8/3/18

Red Clay is set to kick off its Cherokee Cultural Celebration on Saturday and Sunday, and bring the culture of the Cherokee to the forefront.

The event is 90 percent sponsored by the …

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Cherokee Cultural Celebration: Two days of endless experiences

Posted

Red Clay is set to kick off its Cherokee Cultural Celebration on Saturday and Sunday, and bring the culture of the Cherokee to the forefront.

The event is 90 percent sponsored by the Cherokee Nation, Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians and the United Keetoowah Band.

“This is different from any event we do or that you’ll find in Tennessee, because of the sponsorship of these three federally recognized tribes,” said Red Clay's Park Manager Erin Medley.

The three tribes provide $15,000 collectively in support of the event, and Medley said the interpreters are actual Cherokee, not rangers or others dressed as Cherokee doing living-history interpretation.

“Living in the culture allows these Cherokee to properly educate guests on their way of life, as opposed to a well-educated interpreter,” she added.

Throughout both days, Red Clay is packing guests’ itineraries full. Some featured artists, entertainers and interpreters include the Warriors of Anikituwah, who will be performing traditional dance in period clothing; Matt Toni playing traditional flute and storytelling; and even the age-old Cherokee game of stickball. Stickball was a Cherokee sport similar to lacrosse that used two sticks instead of one and used a rock covered in hair as a ball. Women, who were once banned from play, are now allowed to do so, but may only use their hands. Men, conversely, may only use their sticks. In an effort to gain control of the ball, men are not allowed to tackle, hit or push the women, but that rule does not apply to the women. As a result, if playing a battle of the sexes, the women often win.

Sonny Ledford, a member of the Warriors of Anikituwah will also discuss the heritage and culture of the Cherokee, alongside several living history encampments full of re-enactors.

A powwow demonstration also takes place, despite not being a traditional Cherokee function.

Sunday will feature a blowgun tournament as well, with separate teams for men, women and children, with the highest scorer taking home $50 and the highest overall performer winning an additional $100.

“This is the best representation of authentic Cherokee culture,” Medley said. “People have been commenting and sharing our posts constantly on our Facebook. One post alone reached over 20,000 people.”

Medley said Red Clay’s job is to educate the community on Cherokee history and culture and she believes the cultural celebration is the best way of doing that.

The event costs $5 per car and begins at 10 a.m. and runs until 5 p.m. on both days.

Red Clay is located at 1140 Red Clay Park Road, in southern Bradley County. It can be reached at 423-478-0339, on its Facebook or via its website at tnstateparks.com/parks/red-clay


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