Native News Network Staff in Native Currents. Discussion »
CHEROKEE, NORTH CAROLINA The leaders of the three federally recognized Cherokee tribes made history this week, coming together in their birthplace for the first time since 1838 to jointly adopt vital cultural policies. Together, the three tribal governments represent more than 330,000 Cherokee citizens.
Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians Principal Chief Michell Hicks,
Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker and
United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians Chief George Wickliffe (l to r)
met at the Kituwah Mound, the center of the mother town, near Cherokee NC.
The Cherokee Nation, the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians and first-time joiners the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokees in Oklahoma met Friday for a historic Tri-Council meeting at Cherokee Central School, near Cherokee, North Carolina. The event was hosted by the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, which is based in North Carolina.
“At this Tri-Council, I know that our ancestors are looking down with great pride and great pleasure,”
said Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker, who attended alongside Chief George Wickliffe of the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokees and Eastern Band Principal Chief Michell Hicks.
“It's important to join together as one and talk about all the things that mean the most to our people.”
The Tri-Council, made up of 25 tribal council members from within the three tribes, approved incorporating the Cherokee syllabary into the Library of Congress. It is the first Native American language to be entered for preservation and given computer access for public research. Dozens of documents on the history and language of Sequoyah's 85 character syllabary, invented around 1821, are to be entered into the Romanization tables.
“Even though Sequoyah is not here, he is probably considered the most famous Cherokee that ever lived,”
said Cherokee Nation Tribal Council member Joe Byrd, who introduced the resolution.
“The syllabary remained intact over the Trail of Tears and now it can be preserved into the future.”
The council also approved seeking a trademark with the US Patent and Trademark Office for the raising of ancient plants and for natural Cherokee medicine that has been part of the Cherokee tradition for hundreds of years. It would create a legal means to prevent non-Cherokees from misusing or falsely selling such products and would create a standard.
Additionally, the Tri-Council approved a unified commitment to combat major diseases affecting the Cherokee people and to renewing the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act legislation.
Tribal officials said the convergence is a sign that the three Cherokee tribes, despite politics, are of one accord when it comes to the most valued Cherokee customs and culture. During the week, tribal officials together climbed Clingman's Dome, a mountain where healers met for guidance before the Trail of Tears removal, and had a dinner and prayer ceremony at the Kituwah Mound, the site of the original Cherokee mother town.
“This event is historical,”
“I love the Cherokee people and what we do as a tribe and what we're about. We have a lot of work to do, but I'm confident we will get it done.”
The Tri-Council will convene again in 2013 in Oklahoma, when it will be hosted by the Cherokee Nation. A specific date will be announced after consultation with all three tribes.
posted July 16, 2012 7:40 am edt