By Marilyn Craig
Public Relations Coordinator
WASHINGTON, D.C. --United Keetoowah Band employees Ernestine Berry, Executive Director of the John Hair Museum and Cultural Center and Della Wolfe, Education department intake specialist and language instructor traveled to Washington, D.C. during the first week of April to participate in Cherokee Days at the National Museum of the American Indian, an active and visible component of the Smithsonian Institution, the world’s largest museum complex.
The event featured all three Cherokee tribes – the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians in Oklahoma, the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, and the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. It featured Cherokee language, art, culture, films and history.
Live performances included a traditional dance performance by the Eastern Band of Cherokees and a musical performance by the Cherokee National Youth Choir, as well as flute music, piano music and storytelling.
Educational sessions included Cherokee genealogy, language, and history. Demonstrations included pottery making, basket weaving, carving and textiles. Those attending had the opportunity to ask questions of the demonstrators in order to gain a better understanding of the skill involved. UKB Tradition Keeper Dorothy Ice was in attendance and demonstrated textile weaving. Della Wolfe and Ernestine Berry provided history and language lessons, syllabary charts, language booklets, and John Hair Cultural Center & Museum information booklets.
“It was surprising. Everyone who came to our table was very interested in the language and the history. Most of the people there knew nothing about the United Keetoowah Band,” said Berry. “I was very gratified to share the history of the UKB with the visitors.”
"I want to thank the United Keetoowah Band for sending me as an ambassador to the "Cherokee Days" event at the National Museum of the American Indian. I enjoyed giving information to the patrons about who the Keetoowah are and what we stand for. While at the museum I gave mini Cherokee lessons. It was a joy to hear all the Patrons attempt to say the Cherokee words. I feel that our time at the museum was a success. I cannot say enough of how proud I am to have been a part of that gathering of Cherokees with all three Cherokee tribes coming together to share our pride in our strong heritage. I met so many wonderful people, said Wolfe.
There were several craft making hands on activities that attendees could participate in such as cornhusk dolls, clay medallion making, and mini-stickball sticks.
NMAI director Kevin Gover (Pawnee) said, “We are honored to host this historic joint endeavor of the Cherokee here at the museum. Their contributions to the national story and history are legendary, but their legacy continues with events like this to teach others about their contemporary tribal successes and how they maintain their culture in the face of a changing cultural landscape.”