President General Mary Ann Thompson Wright was the distinguished conference guest. Visiting state regents were Sue S. Anderson, North Carolina; Cindy M. Toone, Utah; Patricia M. Hatfield, Virginia; and Charla L. Nutter, West Virginia.
The festivities began with each district throughout Tennessee performing a song-and-dance routine.
Regent Helen Riden, Linda Foster (treasurer and newly elected regent) and Harriet Caldwell, chaplain, attended the Cherokee Genealogical Research East of the Mississippi session taught by Anita Finger-Smith, genealogist, who resides with her Cherokee husband in Cherokee, N.C. She shared numerous publications listed with names on different rolls given those in attendance; the items provide them the opportunity to trace their Cherokee ancestors.
Chief Mitchell Hicks praised Mrs. Finger-Smith for her historical integrity and passion for the field of genealogy. Smith is an asset to the Eastern Band of the Cherokee as well as to those who are tied to them through common history, Hicks said.
The theme chosen by State regent Linda Brown Jones is “Honor to the Past, Service to the Present and Commitment to the Future.” She chosen Psalms 63:7: “Because you are my help, I sing beneath the shadow of your wings.”
The Friday evening dinner was highlighted with singing by James Rogers, a songwriter and member of the Save the Eagle organization. He presented the live bald eagle Challenger, which surprised the audience by flying from the right to the rear, then to the left and back to his starting place. Daughters were in awe with Challenger’s flight, knowing he had flown for presidents as well as at sports events. A video showed patriotic scenes and young eagles and, of course, Challenger.
Cherokee District leader Pam McConnell and her group did a superb job of decoration for the schools breakfast; the speaker was the Rev. Dr. Robert J. Duncan, president of Bacon College. Auction items were available with a generous amount collected.
After the noon sessions each day, the state business and committee meetings were held. A highlight of the committee meetings was Pauline Moore’s report of the Veterans’ lap robes which were collected and distributed.
The Regents Banquet began with the regents’ processional and announcement of each state chapter and the number of years. Ocoee Chapter is 102 years old this year. The program for the evening was presented by the Rev. Edward T. McNabb Jr.
On Sunday morning of the conference, the memorial service began with the processional of pages, followed by state leaders. All recited the Lord’s Prayer. As each name of 2010 deceased members was called, a carnation was placed on the wreath to be taken to the afternoon dedication service. Ocoee Chapter member Ora Humberd was recognized for her many years of membership and service. Harpist Cindy Dowell played favorite hymns.
Before dismissal of the conference, the brunch offered auction items — an antique cameo, a strand of freshwater pearls, patriotic plates and other items, netting a total of more than $3,500, a portion of which will be used for the regents’ project and the other for the schools.
The Native American Prayer concluded the conference as those in attendance remembered last year’s rush to get home before the floods.*
“Oh great Spirit
Whose voice I hear in the winds
And whose breath gives life to all the world,
Hear me, I am small and weak
I need your strength and wisdom.
Let me walk in beauty and make my eyes ever behold
The red and purple sunset.
Make my hands respect the things you have
Made and my eyes sharp to hear your vice.
Make me wise so that I may understand the things
You have taught my people.
Let me learn the lessons you have
Hidden in every leaf and rock.”
*A reminder of the Aug. 20 workshop at Two Rivers Church