Cherokee Days returns to Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, DC

March 19, 2019

Cherokee National Treasure Tonia Hogner-Weavel displays handmade dolls representing the evolution of Cherokee textiles at the 2018 Cherokee Days at NMAI.Cherokee National Treasure Tonia Hogner-Weavel displays handmade dolls representing the evolution of Cherokee textiles at the 2018 Cherokee Days at NMAI.

6th annual event held April 12-14

TAHLEQUAH, Okla. — For the sixth consecutive year, Cherokee Days is returning to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C.

The three-day festival runs April 12-14 and showcases the shared history and cultural lifeways of the three Cherokee tribes: Cherokee Nation, Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians and United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians.

“It’s an honor to return to NMAI with our brothers and sisters from the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians and the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. This annual cultural celebration is a special collaboration for all of us,” Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker said. “The spirit of Cherokee Days affords us a unique opportunity to showcase our talented artisans and respected historians. Preserving our culture means sharing it with the next generation, and that’s what we will again be doing in the nation’s capital.”

Guests will enjoy various cultural demonstrations such as storytelling, traditional flute music, weaponry, woodcarving, beadwork, traditional games, basket weaving, pottery demonstrations and dance performances. Hands-on activities in the imagiNations Activity Center will include making silhouette drawings and miniature gourd necklaces.

“You will see culture and heritage that existed prior to removal and hear how the need for more land and the discovery of gold led to the division of the historic Cherokee Nation into three parts,” United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians Principal Chief Joe Bunch said. “Each one has separate and distinct tribal governments with their own rich traditions and histories.”

As part of the Cherokee Days event, the museum will be celebrating a new installation in the special exhibition “Nation to Nation: Treaties Between the United States and American Indian Nations.” The Treaty of New Echota (1835) was an agreement made by a small group of Cherokee citizens with the U.S. government ceding all Cherokee lands in the East in exchange for lands west of the Mississippi River, though they had no legal right to represent the tribe. On loan from the National Archives, the treaty will be on display through the fall of 2019.

Two banner exhibitions will also be on display, courtesy of Cherokee Nation. “Cherokee Culture” examines the unique culture of the Cherokee people by exploring traditional cooking, traditional sports, language and the arts. This exhibition will be on display during the weekend in the museum’s Potomac Atrium.

The second exhibition, “A Story of Cherokee Removal,” shares the story of removal on the infamous Trail of Tears from the Cherokee perspective and addresses the devastating costs of greed and oppression. It also shows how the tribe persevered, adapted and learned to thrive. Featured within the exhibition are quotations from witnesses of the Cherokee Trail of Tears, historical timelines and a Trail of Tears route map. This exhibition will be on display in the museum’s fourth floor April 12–Oct. 30.

The production team behind “Osiyo, Voices of the Cherokee People” will screen episodes from the newest season of its Emmy-winning series each day and host a Q&A on Saturday, April 13.

Those unable to attend the festivities in person can still take part in the Cherokee Days experience through an interactive website with live streaming at CherokeeDays.com.