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Each year, the Cherokee National Holiday draws tens of thousands of people to Cherokee County to celebrate tribal culture and heritage.
One of its biggest draws is the Cherokee National Holiday Powwow, held Aug. 30-31 on the Cherokee Cultural Grounds.
Each day of the powwow started with a grand entry, which featured dancers, singers and drummers of several tribal affiliations. The entries were led by the Cherokee Nation Honor Guard and the United Keetoowah Band Honor Guard.
Dean Shockley of Rogers, Ark., attended the powwow with his wife.
“We’ve been coming for 10 or 12 years,” he said. “Everyone says you haven’t been anywhere until you’ve been to this powwow. My wife is Cherokee, and we like to see them perform and dance in their traditional costumes. American Indians aren’t anything like what they were portrayed on TV while I was growing up. To come here and watch is always fun and fascinating.”
Sisters Dezare Peal of Houston and Amy Krenek of Nacogdoches, Texas, visited to discover some of the culture within their ancestry. They were first-time attendees of the Cherokee National Holiday.
“My sister is researching the part of our family, which is descended from Indians,” Paul said. “We are wanting to see if my nephew can get registered and get a CDIB card. I wanted to come here with them because I was so interested. I wanted to see a powwow.”
The sisters were always aware of their American Indian lineage, but only recently able to learn more about it.
“It goes back to my mother’s grandfather,” Krenek said. “We lost touch with them for a long time. We are here to introduce my child to part of his heritage.”
Both also expressed thanks for the hospitality of the Nation during their visit.
“We’ve gotten lost a couple of times,” Krenek said. “But every time the [Cherokee Nation] marshals have been there to help us. Everyone here is very friendly.”
Gabrielle Tanner of Muskogee was attending her first powwow in many years.
“I probably haven’t been here since I was my daughter’s age - she attends Cherokee Elementary School,” Tanner said. “She is here with one of her student organizations. What I really enjoy is the drumming. I have a couple of cousins who drum, so that is probably my favorite part.”