Published August 23, 2015
Osiyo. This Labor Day weekend, we are planning for another record crowd at the Cherokee National Holiday in Tahlequah. More than 100,000 visitors are again expected to visit the Cherokee capital city for the 63rd installment of our annual homecoming. We look forward to hosting you, your family and friends for the celebration of Cherokee history, heritage and hospitality.
The first Cherokee National Holiday was held in 1953 to commemorate the anniversary of the signing of the 1839 Cherokee Constitution. Every year we gather to honor that event, reaffirm our tribal pride, and reconnect with our fellow Cherokees. As always, a vast array of entertainment and cultural and athletic events are being planned for participants.
This year’s “reunion” theme is one that resonates with all of us. This holiday celebration is a time set aside for family, friends and fellowship. Our reunion will be made up of everything from intimate family gatherings, large-scale activities and cultural ceremonies. This year’s reunion theme is also a reference to the bison herd that has returned to Cherokee Nation soil for the first time in 40 years. Bison are part of our pre-removal history and culture, and they are symbols of our great country. They represent freedom, strength and resiliency—some of the very same traits we identify in ourselves as Cherokee people.
As we come together this year, we celebrate the accomplishments of our tribal government, our people and our bright future. The progress we have made just since our last Cherokee National Holiday is amazing, and I am confident we will build on that momentum in the coming year.
Deputy Chief S. Joe Crittenden and I are humbled and honored to be serving the Cherokee people for another four years. Recently, we took the oath of office for our respective roles. Our administration operates with a simple goal: make the lives of Cherokee citizens better today, tomorrow and for the next seven generations.
Principal Chief Bill John Baker
I believe our future is brighter than ever. Putting the people first and emphasizing the things that make healthy and strong families are critical for our long-term success. We have more Cherokee Nation citizens working for the tribe and our businesses than ever before. More Cherokees have received academic scholarships than at any time in our history, and we have built more homes for Cherokees in the past year than we did in the 10 years prior.
That’s why when I look around the 14 counties of the Cherokee Nation, I realize that we are truly blessed, and we look forward to sharing that bounty with all of our guests during the Labor Day weekend. We assure you that Cherokee National Holiday has something of interest for everyone. From traditional foods, music and storytelling to competitive traditional games, like Cherokee marbles and stickball, there is an abundance of culture sharing. History enthusiasts can explore our local tribal museums, which highlight different aspects of Cherokee history and heritage. Additionally, a car show is planned, as well as a fishing derby for kids and a softball tournament for men and women. Of course, one of the biggest attractions every year is the celebrated intertribal powwow, recognized as one of the biggest and best in the United States.
Cherokee National Holiday will be held Sept. 4-6 and is guaranteed to be a festive celebration that covers the spectrum of Cherokee life—from our traditional roots to our progressive values of family and community. It’s an opportunity to make memories you and your family can cherish for a lifetime.
We hope to see all of you there.
Bill John Baker is the principal chief of the Cherokee Nation.