IF YOU GO
What: 29th annual Cherokee Days of Recognition.
When: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
Where: Red Clay State Park, 1140 Red Clay Park Road, Cleveland, Tenn.
Admission: Free but $5 donation requested.
From I-75, follow East Brainerd Road east for 8 miles, crossing Ooltewah-Ringgold Road and continuing toward Apison. Turn right onto London Lane. After 2.3 miles, continue straight onto Keith Road for a half-mile before turning left onto Mount Vernon Road. Drive 4 miles, turn left onto Old Apison Pike, travel 7 miles, then left onto Red Clay Park Road.
A celebration of Cherokee heritage is planned for Saturday and Sunday at Red Clay State Park in Cleveland, Tenn.
Cherokee Days of Recognition began as a small event organized by Richard Crowe, according to park records. Its purpose was to celebrate Cherokee heritage and share it with anyone who wished to come and learn more.
The event has grown over two decades to draw 20 craft and food vendors, living historians and Cherokee performers along with a couple thousand visitors.
Red Clay was selected as the location because of its significance in Cherokee history. The grounds were the site of 11 of the final 12 Cherokee Council meetings before the Trail of Tears, according to park records.
Park ranger Erin Medley said, “Red Clay is special to the Cherokee because it was their nation’s capital before they were forced out of the area. Red Clay was to the Cherokee what Washington, D.C., is to us.”
Rick Bird will emcee opening ceremonies each day at 10 a.m., followed at 10:15 by Cherokee dancers.
At 11:45 a.m. each day, Dr. Michael Abram will give a presentation on the legend of “Nun-yu-nu-yi!” He will give a third presentation Sunday at 3:30 p.m. on Cherokee instruments used in medicine.
Guest musicians will be flutists Michael Jacobs and Jimmy Yellowhorse. There will be demonstrations of stickball both days with a blowgun tournament at 11:45 a.m. Sunday. Medley said the blowgun tournament is open to visitors. However, entrants must have their own river cane blowgun and darts. A blowgun vendor is expected to attend so that guests may purchase the needed supplies.
The ranger said a special guest at this year’s event will be Miss Cherokee Tonya Carroll of Cherokee, N.C.
“She will be here Sunday to participate in some of the dances as well as answer questions from guests,” said Medley.
Susan Palmer Pierce is a reporter and columnist in the Life department. She began her journalism career as a summer employee 1972 for the News Free Press, typing bridal announcements and photo captions. She became a full-time employee in 1980, working her way up to feature writer, then special sections editor, then Lifestyle editor in 1995 until the merge of the NFP and Times in 1999. She was honored with the 2007 Chattanooga Woman of ...