Some Oklahomans are trying to preserve their heritage, which dates back long before the U.S. was formed. About 30,000 Cherokees are celebrating the birth of their nation in Tahlequah this weekend.
The Cherokee chief says the tribe's future depends largely on its past. Native American Culture shines during the Cherokee National Holiday. Cherokees also bring back historical contests, such as the cornstalk shoot. It's the only authentic archery contest still in existence.
The goal of new Cherokee chief, Chad Smith is to keep history alive. Dressed in a historic sequoyah jacket, Smith asked thousands of Cherokees during his state of the Nation address to bring ideas to an upcoming cultural planning convention.
"A plan that will see us through the next 50 to 100 years. So those words we heard from those children will not be lost in this generation," says Smith.
Cherokee novelist, Robert Conley says a plan to save their heritage would be historic.
"We haven't had an emphasis on culture, overall since , well, before statehood. I think it's refreshing," says Conley.
Chief Smith says if they don't act now, their language, heritage and culture will become extinct. Smith also said the Nation has to tighten its belt because they are facing a possible multi-million dollar deficit. He also wants to protect whistle blowers who work for the nation and wants to issue automobile tags to Cherokees.