CHC hosts 3rd annual Cherokee Heritage Festival
PARK HILL, Okla. – Approximately 1,800 elementary school children from 25 Oklahoma schools attended the third annual Cherokee Heritage Festival Nov. 2-3 at the Cherokee Heritage Center.
Children participated in various Cherokee cultural activities during the two-day festival.
“It’s a celebration of not only Native American (Heritage) Month but of Cherokee culture. We’ve invited schools to attend to experience Cherokee culture with their eyes, their ears and their hands,” CHC Education Director Tonia Weavel said.
Activities consisted of visiting the Diligwa-1710 Cherokee Village, Adam’s Corner Rural Village, the Cherokee National Museum, shooting blowguns, playing stickball and chunkey, watching bow and flint knapping demonstrations, hearing the Cherokee language and learning about loom weaving, twining and basketry.
“In the past we’ve had people really enjoy this, bringing their children, their students to this event. We have public school, private school and home-schooled children that come and enjoy the event. We’ve had really positive feedback,” Weavel said.
Cherokee Nation citizen and Tenkiller Elementary teacher Sinea Girdner said it is important to teach her students about the Cherokee culture and that is why they attended the event.
“We brought out students out here today because we are local, and we think it’s important that our children see why our town was founded and what originally started here. They need to know the history of our town,” Girdner said. “What I get out of bringing my students to an event like this is seeing their minds expanding and the light bulb moments that click on when they see things in Tahlequah and they can make a connection with it, that they’re actually here and it’s not just something they read in a book. They actually have the experience.”
Girdner said at Tenkiller Elementary, children take part in after-school programs to learn more about Cherokee culture.
“If they weren’t taught it in school it would probably be lost,” she said.
Weavel said it’s important for the CHC to “share the culture with the world.”
“The authenticity of the event means everything to me so that kids experience a real Cherokee event,” Weavel said.