Cherokee’s From Across The Nation Gather In Tahlequah

Sunday, September 2nd 2007, 9:00 pm
By: News On 6

The Cherokee Nation wrapped up its annual National Holiday Sunday afternoon with a series of traditional games. The Cherokees call their National Holiday Fourth of July for Native Americans, and it’s all about having a good time. The News On 6’s Chris Wright traveled to Tahlequah to take it all in. He reports Cherokees from all over the country traveled to Tahlequah to enjoy each other's company, but there was also some serious competitors in attendance.

An estimated 90,000 members of Cherokee Nation descended upon Tahlequah this weekend for the annual National Holiday. They packed the arts and crafts tent, and filled the horseshoe court. Most weren't just here to compete, they showed up to win.

"They're competitors, been doing this is their community for years and years,” event coordinator Lou Slagle said. “They know how to play these games.”

The horseshoe players actually had to win qualifying tournaments before being allowed to even take part in Sunday's showdown.

"These guys are good. I'm wondering why I'm here,” said horseshoe player Dave Standingwater. “They're good players."

Things were a little bit more laid back at the other sporting events, which included traditional marbles and the hatchet throw. Players lined up, taking their turn at trying to split a playing card placed in the middle of a block of wood.

"It's very family oriented,” Cherokee Nation citizen David Boyd said. “We get out here and have a good time. It's not very serious."

Another attraction was the cornstalk shoot. The goal of the game is pretty simple. Players use hand-made bows and arrows, and try to hit a target about 100 yards away.

Traditional games like the cornstalk shoot almost died out in previous generations. That's why this week's participants say it's so important to keep playing them.

"It's important to keep your heritage alive. If you make it fun, they're more apt to do it," Boyd said.

Judging from the turnout and the mostly friendly competition, the Cherokees have nothing to worry about.

The National Holiday has been held since 1953. It is a tribute to the signing of the Cherokee Constitution in 1839. Another highlight of the holiday was Saturday night’s pow-wow. The Cherokee Nation says about 14,000 people showed up for it.

Watch the video: Cherokee National Holiday Wraps Up