Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chad Smith, center, and Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians Michell Hicks, left, carry torches on April 16, 2009, to relight the Eternal Flame of the Cherokee Nation located at Red Clay State Park in Cleveland, Tenn. The park is hosting the commemoration of the 175th anniversary of the Trail of Tears on Aug. 3-4. WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX

Trail of Tears commemoration set at Red Clay

07/30/2013 08:52 AM
CLEVELAND, Tenn. – Red Clay State Park will host “Honor and Remember” on Aug. 3-4 to commemorate the 175th anniversary of the Trail of Tears.

The event will be held 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day. While the event is free and open to the public, there is a $5 donation fee per vehicle.

Re-enactors will demonstrate 18th and early 19th century southeastern life featuring Cherokee and non-Native settlers. The event will also include Cherokee foods, music, dancing, storytelling and demonstrations of traditional crafts and skills. Park rangers will lead hikes and speakers will give lectures discussing various topics related to the Cherokee and the Trail of Tears.

“Red Clay’s commemoration of the 175th anniversary of the Trail of Tears is a great opportunity for visitors to view a depiction of Cherokee life in the 1700s and early 1800s,” park manager Erin Medley said.

For more information on the anniversary event, call Red Clay’s park office at 423-478-0339 or visit

Red Clay State Historic Park is located in the extreme southwest corner of Bradley County, just above the Tennessee-Georgia state line and is the site of 11 of the last 12 Cherokee Council meetings before the infamous Trail of Tears.

The park encompasses 263 acres of narrow valley and forested ridges and features picnic facilities, a loop trail and amphitheater. The park also contains a natural landmark, the Blue Hole Spring, which arises from beneath a limestone ledge to form a deep pool that flows into Mill Creek. The Cherokee used the Blue Hole Spring as their water supply during council meetings.

For more information about the park, visit


11/25/2015 10:00 AM
SAN FRANCISCO – The movie “The Cherokee Word for Water” has been voted the top American Indian film of the past 40 years in a survey conducted by the American Indian Film Institute. The movie was honored with a special screening Nov. 9 at the 40th annual American Indian Film Festival in San Francisco. It will also be available throughout November on Comcast’s Xfinity on Demand platform as part of the cable company’s National Native American Heritage Month celebration. “The Cherokee Word for Water” is a feature-length motion picture that tells the story of the work that led the late Wilma Mankiller to become the first principal chief of the Cherokee Nation. The movie is based on the true story of the Bell Waterline Project and set in the early 1980s in the homes of the rural Oklahoma community where many Cherokee houses lack running water and others are little more than shacks. After centuries of being dehumanized and dispossessed of their land and identity, the people of the Cherokee communities no longer feel they have power or control over their lives or future. Led by Mankiller (played by Kimberly Guerrero) and Cherokee organizer Charlie Soap (played by Mo Brings Plenty), using the Cherokee concept of Ga-du-gi, or working together to solve a problem, they inspired the community to trust each other and reawaken universal indigenous values. Together with a community of volunteers they build nearly 20 miles of waterline to save the community. The successful completion of the waterline led to Mankiller’s election as principal chief, her and Soap’s marriage and sparked a movement of similar self-help projects across the CN and in Indian Country that continues today. Soap, a first-time filmmaker, directed and produced the film with Kristina Kiehl, women’s rights leader and friend of Mankiller and Soap, serving as producer. “The Cherokee Word for Water” was executive produced by Paul Heller of “My Left Foot” acclaim and Laurene Powell, co-directed by Tim Kelly with cinematography by Lisa Leone and a screenplay by Tim Kelly and Louise Rubacky. Besides the AIFI honor, other awards received by “The Cherokee Word for Water” include Best Motion Picture from the Cowboy Hall of Fame & Western Heritage Museum in 2014 and Best Actress for Kimberly Guerrero from the Red Nations Film Festival in 2013. The film was also named one of the 11 Essential Native American Films You Can Watch Online by Indian Country Today Media Network. In celebration of the AIFI recognition, “The Cherokee Word for Water” is being made available for purchase on DVD and Blu-Ray at a discount for a limited time. Visit <a href="" target="_blank"></a> and enter AIFF40DVD at checkout to buy the DVD version for $10 or enter AIFF40BLU to purchase it for $15. “The Cherokee Word for Water” was funded through the Wilma Mankiller Foundation to continue her legacy of social justice and community development in Indian Country. Support for the Wilma Mankiller Foundation is tax-deductible and profits from the film fund positive portrayals of American Indians and programs for Indian communities across the country.
11/20/2015 10:30 AM
FORT SMITH, Ark. – The Fort Smith National Historic Site closed its visitor center on Nov. 18 until Dec. 2 for the installation of a new heating and air conditioning system. The new HVAC unit will replace an older, less efficient system. The decision to close is due to visitor safety concerns, dust, noise, and the heavy equipment used to install the new system. The visitor center will reopen at 9 a.m., Dec. 3. During the time of the closure, the park will conduct business out of the Frisco Railroad Station located at 100 Garrison Avenue. Services available to visitors at the Frisco Station location will include interpretive tours, the park’s orientation video, and bookstore sales. Entrance fees will be waived during the main visitor center closure, and National Park Service Park Passes will be available for purchase at the Frisco location. “Making the decision to close the visitor center for two weeks was tough, but it is the right thing to do for visitor safety and project efficiency. We have worked to provide as many services to the public and hope to make this a seamless transition throughout the project,” said FSNHS Superintendent Lisa Conard Frost. The Fort Smith National Historic Site is located in downtown Fort Smith. To access the free parking lot from Garrison Avenue, turn south on 4th Street and west on Garland Avenue. For more information on the park, call 479-783-3961 or visit <a href="" target="_blank"></a>.
Senior Reporter
11/09/2015 02:29 PM
WARNER, Okla. – Two Cherokee men are building on the success they had in 2014 with their “Birds of the Cherokee Nation” calendar and are offering a 2016 version. The calendar consists of photographs of area birds and their Cherokee names in the tribe’s syllabary. Jeff Davis, of Warner, and David Cornsilk, of Tahlequah, collaborated on the calendar. Cornsilk researched the Cherokee names for the birds and Davis provided the photographs. “Last year’s calendar was very well received. This year’s calendar features 14 different birds. I’ve had numerous people thank me for publishing it and said they were looking forward to this 2016 edition,” Davis said. Because he descends from the Cherokee Bird Clan, Davis said, as a photographer, birds are some of his favorite subjects. Davis, who is also an artist and descendant of Principal Chief John Ross, said a reason for doing the calendar in 2014 was to help promote the language. When living in Kenwood in Delaware County, Cornsilk said he listened to Cherokee speakers talk about birds and the meaning of their names. He said he noticed the older speakers knew a lot of birds’ names but younger speakers knew hardly any. Out of concern for the Cherokee language, Cornsilk began collecting bird names in Cherokee for a book he thought he would write. He then decided to collaborate with Davis, who already had local bird photos, to make the calendar. Davis said many Cherokee speakers just use the word jee-squa, which means bird, for every bird. He said he hopes the calendar helps people learn how the Cherokee names of different birds living in northeastern Oklahoma. Each bird in the calendar has a Cherokee syllabary and English phonetic name, as well as an explanation of what the bird means to the Cherokee. On the calendar’s back cover is a copy of the Cherokee syllabary to help translate the bird names and the months in Cherokee listed with the photos. Also included in the calendar is a list of moons associated with each month and what Cherokee beliefs are associated with each moon. Cherokee translator William Eubanks compiled those beliefs in the 1890s, and Cherokee linguist Lawrence Panther translated the calendar’s name. The calendars are available for $10 at the Cherokee Nation Gift Shop, Cherokee Heritage Center Gift Shop, and the Spider Gallery in Tahlequah. By mail order, the price is $12.95 each, which includes shipping. PayPal or postal money orders are accepted. For PayPal send payment to <a href="mailto:"></a>, and to mail payment, send to: J. Davis, P.O. Box 492, Warner OK 74469.
Senior Reporter
11/09/2015 01:41 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Cherokee National Youth Choir is releasing a new Christmas music CD and will be performing songs from it at two concerts in November and December. “Cherokee Christmas” can be purchased at all Cherokee Gift Shops, at the concerts or by calling CNYC Co-Director Kathy Sierra at 918-453-5638. The CD has 12 songs that were recorded this past summer. “We are doing all styles of music from ‘Up On the Housetop’ and ‘Silver Bells’ to ‘O Holy Night,’” CNYC Co-Director Mary Kay Henderson said. This is the third Christmas CD the choir has recorded. The previous one, “Comfort and Joy,” was released in 2006. [BLOCKQUOTE]The choir’s CD release concert will be at 7 p.m. on Nov. 17 at the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame at 401 S. Third St. in Muskogee. This event is free and open to the public. A second concert will be at 7 p.m. on Dec. 15 at the Wagoner Civic Center located at 301 S. Grant in Wagoner. Tickets are $5 and can be purchased by calling 918-485-3414. The choir also will be performing on Dec. 5 at the lighting of the Courthouse Square in Tahlequah. The CNYC is made up of 40 Cherokee youths from northeastern Oklahoma communities. Members perform traditional songs in the Cherokee language. It was founded in 2000 as a way to keep Cherokee youths interested in and involved with language and culture. “I have been with the choir since 2003. I love the kids. Kathy (Sierra) started with the choir in 2000 as a parent and has been with them ever since,” Henderson said. She said the choir gets requests “literally every day” to perform somewhere in the area. Auditions for new choir members will be held Jan 5. Candidates must be in sixth through 11th grade, a CN citizen, willing to learn Cherokee and attend weekly rehearsals. Interested youth should call Sierra at (918) 453-5638 to schedule an audition time. Interest in the Cherokee language has been rekindled among young people largely through the success of the youth choir. Several area schools now use the choir’s CDs as learning tools, and other schools are interested in developing curriculum to teach Cherokee language and music. People may listen to samples and purchase CNYC music at iTunes by searching the music section with the phrase “Cherokee National Youth Choir.” The choir’s CDs are also available on
11/05/2015 02:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – In celebration of Native American Heritage Month, the Cherokee Nation is hosting a Lunch & Learn lecture series every Monday throughout November. The series willfeature speakers on topics related to CN history, culture and government. The first presentation of the series held Nov. 2 was “History of the Cherokee Phoenix newspaper” by Cherokee Phoenix Senior Reporter Will Chavez. The free series is open to the public and will be held at noon in the Tsalagi Community Room, 17675 S. Muskogee Ave. Attendees are invited to bring a sack lunch. The remaining presentations are: Nov. 9 “Natives and Major League Baseball” by Rob Daugherty, director of CN Community and Cultural Outreach Nov. 16 “History of the Cherokee Nation Marshals Service” by Shannon Buhl, CN marshal Nov. 23 “U.S. Marshals Museum” by Jim Dunn and Alice Alt, president and vice president of the U.S. Marshals Museum Nov. 30 “What is an Indian Tribe?” by the Cherokee Nation Office of the Attorney General For more information, contact Catherine Foreman-Gray at
10/23/2015 10:00 AM
CLAREMORE, Okla. – When Will Rogers returned to his Indian Territory heritage as a boy coming home from school, as a New York stage actor dropping in on his way across the country and as a famous star of the big screen, there was always a celebration. They were recorded in the Claremore newspaper and in Will’s daily and weekly writings. When he died in a 1935 airplane crash and the Will Rogers Memorial Museum opened on his birthday three years later, a group of his old friends, the Indian Women’s Pocahontas Club, vowed to especially remember him each year on his birthday. That memorial event has grown into “Will Rogers Days,” which Claremore is celebrating Nov. 4-8. The focus remains on the Will Rogers Memorial’s mission of “collecting, preserving and sharing the life, wisdom and humor of Will Rogers for all generations.” Admission to the Museum will be free Nov. 4-8, said Tad Jones, executive director. Visitors and members of the business community are encouraged to dress western during the event. During the four-day celebration, two events are devoted primarily to children with hands-on activities that will acquaint them with Will Rogers and his Cherokee family values. A birthday party, complete with cake, will be celebrated at the Will Rogers Birthplace Ranch near Oologah on opening day from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., Nov. 4, the 136th anniversary of Will’s birth. There will be music that Will loved so much, presented now by Oologah-Talala students, and trick roping by Kowboy Kal, a world champion roper who has mastered and will demonstrate some of Will’s tricks. Children’s Day at the Museum is three hours of activities at the Claremore Museum with school groups hearing Cherokee Storyteller Robert Lewis, playing old-fashioned games, learning to trick rope and spending time in the Children’s Museum. The annual parade is on tap for 10 a.m., Saturday, Nov. 7 followed by a 4 p.m. lecture by Amy Ware, author of a new book “The Cherokee Kid: Will Rogers, Tribal Identity, and the Making of an American Icon,” in the Will Rogers Museum Theatre. New on this year’s schedule is a musical performance of “the Will and the Wind,” by Dr. Dale Smith, directed by Sherrell Daniel, retired educator. The cast of children from the Claremore area will be on stage in the Museum Theatre at 7 p.m. Saturday and again on Sunday at 2 p.m. The week will wind down with a celebration and dedication of Will Rogers Park at the museum from 2-4 p.m. The park, now the site of a Claremore city park, was once part of the property Will Rogers purchased for a home site and is now the home of the Will Rogers Memorial. All “Will Rogers Days” events are free and open to the public