By TEDDYE SNELL
TAHLEQUAH — firstname.lastname@example.org
Each Labor Day weekend, for at least the past 60 years, Tahlequah has been host to the Cherokee National Holiday, an event that brings tens of thousands of visitors to town.
This year’s theme is “Homes, Health and Hope.” The holiday features time-honored favorites, including the holiday parade, the chief’s State of the Nation address, along with cultural activities like the stickball, blow gun, marbles and cornstalk shoot competitions.
Also a large part of the festivities are athletic competitions, including softball, golf and a three-on-three basketball tournament.
Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker is excited about this year’s holiday, as several new attractions have been added.
“I invite everyone to the Cherokee National Holiday celebration,” said Baker. “We hope everyone has the chance to enjoy our history, our heritage and our hospitality.”
This summer marks the 61st holiday, which, according to Baker has grown every year.
“We expect over 100,000 visitors from around the world this year,” said Baker. “We are proud the Cherokee Nation offers our citizens and visitors such an exciting array of entertainment, cultural and athletic events.”
New this year is a musical, “Nanyehi: Beloved Woman of the Cherokee,” which chronicles the live of Cherokee peace leader Nancy Ward. Showings will take place at NSU’s Center for Performing Arts, Aug. 27, 30 and 31.
The play features original music written by Cherokee citizen and Ward descendant Becky Hobbs, originally of Bartlesville. Hobbs is also the co-playwright and musical director for the production, which aims to be more character-driven than a historical account.
“We have tried to keep all of the historical facts authentic from as much as we know about Nancy Ward’s life, yet we wanted to go deeper and present her as a real human being who had emotions,” said Hobbs. “The most important thing is getting Nancy Ward’s message of peace out to today’s world.”
All performances will take place at 7:30 p.m. Admission is free, but tickets must be reserved by calling the NSU box office at (918) 458-2075.
The Cherokee Heritage Center is also an integral part of the Holiday, offering free museum admission, which includes Adams Corner Rural Village, the Trail of Tears exhibit and the Cherokee Homecoming Show.
“The Cherokee National Holiday is a special weekend that brings thousands of people to the area to celebrate the rich history of the Cherokee Nation,” said Cheryl Parrish, interim executive director of the Heritage Center. “Guests who visit us will be able to learn about our early history by visiting Diligwa, our new ancient village, and will also get the chance to view all the great art we have on display.”
Guided tours of Diligwa cost $2 and will be offered every 30 minutes, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., each day.
Guests can also enjoy the only all-Native American arts and crafts fair, with more than 80 vendors featuring original paintings, prints, jewelry, basketry, beadwork, traditional clothing, flutes, pottery and quilts, among many other items.
Holiday events span the entire length of the city, from the W.W. Keeler Complex on the south end of town, to NSU on the north.
For a full listing of events, times and locations, visit. www.cherokee.org.