Now in its 22nd year, the Cherokee Voices Festival celebrates thousands of years of tradition in the southern Appalachians with the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI).
A free daylong event of continuous performances and crafts demonstrations, Cherokee Voices shines a light on the people of Cherokee who carry traditions of the culture that have been passed down for generations.
“Overall, the purpose of the event is to publicly celebrate traditional Cherokee culture—this includes arts and crafts, dance, storytelling, music, food, living history, and more,” said Barbara Duncan, Ph.D., Education Director at the Museum of the Cherokee Indian, and the original organizer of this event.
The next Cherokee Voices Festival will take place on Saturday, June 8, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Museum in Cherokee.
Similar to last year’s event, the festival theme is “passing the knowledge to the rising generation,” and will feature many young Cherokee performers, artists, and demonstrators who have honed their crafts by learning from members of their family and the community.
Visitors will see photography and silversmithing by young artists as well as established master artists and elders. Unlike a craft fair with only ready-made items for sale, the festival features items and demonstrations by artisans, creating their works in real time. Guests are invited to talk with the artists and learn more about their work and process.
Invited elders include Beloved Woman and award-winning potter Amanda Swimmer who was born in 1921 and raised on the Qualla Boundary. Self-taught, Amanda hand builds and fires pots in the ancient tradition, drying the pieces in the sun before firing them in an open pit.
Known for their wood carvings and white oak basket-making, respectively, husband-and-wife duo Butch and Louise Goings will also participate in the festival.
Storyteller Lloyd Arneach is also slated to share his craft. The son of the first woman ever elected to the Tribal Council and the grandson of Beloved Woman Lula Owl Gloyne, Lloyd has been a full-time storyteller and historian for 25 years.
Cherokee Voices appeals to all the senses, including the ears. Traditional Cherokee music, including flute, will provide the soundtrack for this culturally rich experience. This year, flutist John Grant Jr. is slated to play.
Museum of the Cherokee Indian is located at at 589 Tsali Blvd. in Cherokee.