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Cherokee National Holiday - 50th Anniversary
Theme "Building One Fire"
August 30 - September 2, 2002
Tahlequah, Oklahoma
(Cherokee Nation Complex, Cultural Grounds, Park Hill)

Below are some of the events we attended and sites we visited during the Holiday

Cherokee Heritage Center (Park Hill) - arts and crafts

Several booths at the Cherokee Heritage Center - selling pottery, calendars, baskets, flutes, blow guns, etc.

Ran into Tommy Wildcat. He is up for "Best Flutist" at the Sept. 7, 2002, Native American Awards in Milwaukee, WI. [Note:  He did win the award]

Tommy Wildcat (drawing us a map to the Stomp Dance)

Pow Wow, a non-Cherokee, nontraditional, intertribal dance. Several tribes attended including the Kickapoo and Pawnee. They did a 911 tribute. I loved some of the names of the people who attended - Walter Buffalo Meat, Angela Little Deer, etc.  The Cherokee National Choir sang "Orphan Child" and they were fantastic.  The Cherokee people are quite Christian.  The choir's new CD is filled with hymns.  I was told the largest church denomination in the Cherokee Nation is Southern Baptist.  

Pow Wow

1985-1995 Chief Wilma Mankiller (middle) and husband Charlie Soap (far left) at the Pow Wow

Stomp Dance (near Vian, OK - traditional Cherokee religious dance). Dottie participated (no cameras allowed).

Cherokee Nation Courthouse "Walk of History" - The bricked sidewalk is completed. We found ours and Nancy Brown's bricks. They are located in the front, close to the left light post.

Our bricks

One of Nancy's bricks - duh!

"Cherokee" book signing (large photograph book) - signed by the author (Robert Conley), photographer (David Fitzgerald), three chiefs (Chad Smith, Wilma Mankiller, Joe Byrd), Wes Studi (actor in Last of the Mohicans), and 20 other Cherokees who had their picture in the book.

Wes Studi (Last of the Mohicans, Geronimo, and Dances With Wolves)

We told several people at the book signing that "Dottie is a direct descendant of Major Ridge through his daughter Sarah Ridge, who married George W. Paschal and moved to Galveston, TX." I think most of them were surprised and we heard some really good comments.

List of the 26 people who signed the "Cherokee" book:

1. Current Chief Chad Smith, 1999 - present
2. Chief Wilma Mankiller, 1985-1995
3. Chief Joe Byrd, 1995-1999 - his father is Stand Watie Byrd. He has Ross and Treaty Party ancestors
4. Robert J, Conley, the book's author
5. David G. Fitzgerald, the book's photographer
6. Tom W. Wildcat (on cover) - father of twins Tammy and Tommy Wildcat
7. Tammy Wildcat
8. Wes Studi - actor
9. Suzy Byrd, wife of Joe Byrd
10. Dennis Jay Hannah, a Nancy Ward and Ezekial Eugene Starr descendant
11.Maggie (Birdtail) McElhaney - mother of 16 children
12. Lorene Drywater - makes traditional Cherokee buffalo-grass dolls
13. Bobbie Gail Smith, wife of Chief Chadwick "Corntassel" Smith
14. Brooks Henson - painter using acrylics and pencil
15. George W. Pumpkin - an 81 year-old full-blood elder
16. Todum Hair - traditional Cherokee blacksmith and named a Cherokee Nation Living Treasure
17. Cherokee Ballard - only Native American news anchor (KOCO [ABC affiliate] Oklahoma City)
18. Dora Grayson - traditional natural healer using herbs and plants - I told her about Sarah Ridge Paschal Pix
19. Anna Bell Sixkiller Mitchell - pottery master and a Cherokee Nation Living Treasure
20. Ben Duck - gospel singer
21. Larry E. Adair - Speaker of the House, District 86
22. John A. Ketcher - Deputy Principle Chief 1985-1995 and a master weaver
23. Brandon Keen - Five year-old and direct descendant of Ned Christi (Ned's story is amazing!)
24. Bessie Russell - Master Craftswoman in basket weaving
25. Eunice O'Field - National Treasure/Master Craftsperson in basket weaving and basket making
26. Yvonne Davis - retired teacher and great granddaughter of John Ross (She gave Dottie a nice hug and said "We are all Cherokee")

New Echota House Restaurant - We ate Buffalo sirloin steak and it was as good as it gets! The restaurant is located 2-3 miles north of downtown Tahlequah.

Kayaked - 6 miles down the Illinois River

"Trail of Tears" drama - lots of historic inaccuracies.  Story told by Sequoyah and Will Rogers.  Drama was written by "Greater Tuna's" Joe Sears, a Cherokee.  We spoke with the actor who portrayed Major Ridge.  He said that he has studied Ridge and hoped he did the man justice.  The actor, Anthony Wamego, is a stuntman in Hollywood, has done around 16 movies, and is a direct descendant of McIntosh.  Several people in the play had the last names of Kingfisher and Wildcat. One of the actors was Lisa Good Voice.

Had a great time seeing and talking to Sam Kidd who works at the Heritage Center.

Sam Kidd and Victoria Mitchell Vazquez (daughter of Anna Bell Sixkiller Mitchell)
Victoria's Traditional Cherokee Pottery webpage -

Met some descendants of John Ross, George Lowrey, Zeke Proctor, Ezekial Starr, etc.  Always nice meeting people from Texas!

Full-blood Cherokee from St. Louis - who said his grandmother told him "Vote straight Republican, hate all Creeks, and hate all whites." Traditional Cherokees nowadays typically vote Democrat.

Picture at the Cherokee Heritage Center - left by a woman who said it was Stand Watie.  This ambrotype picture technique (looks like mirrored tin or glass) was popular between 1855-1865.  This is believed to be a younger Stand Watie and was recently printed in the book "Cherokee" by David G. Fitzgerald and Robert J. Conley.  

Dwight Mission - we visited the Dwight Mission on the way home. The mission was started by the Rev. Cephas Washburn. A total of four buildings on the grounds with the cemetery next door.

Dwight Mission and historical marker