MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

September 27, 2007

Keetoowahs set celebration for early October


TAHLEQUAH — The United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians in Oklahoma will host the 57th annual Keetoowah Celebration on Oct. 5 and 6.

This years’ theme will be “Celebrating our progress through 179 years of tradition”.

The Keetoowahs relocated to Tahlequah from Arkansas 179 years ago when they signed the Treaty of 1828, which ceded their lands in Arkansas for lands in what is now Oklahoma.

“This year’s celebration will pay tribute to the Keetoowah Cherokee People – the traditional Cherokee people,” said Chief George Wickliffe. Most events will be held at the Keetoowah Activity Park off West Willis Road at Keetoowah Circle.

The Keetoowah Celebration is held on the first weekend in October to commemorate the signing of the Keetoowah Constitution. The constitution of the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians in Oklahoma was ratified by the U.S. Congress in October 1950, which gave the tribe federal recognition and distinction. The UKB is the only Cherokee tribe organized under the Indian Welfare Act.

Oct. 5, the tribe will host its annual golf tournament at Cherry Springs Golf Course in Tahlequah. Registration is from 7 to 8 a.m., with a shotgun start at 9 a.m.

Some categories of a three on three basketball tournament will begin at 6 p.m. Oct. 5, as well as a gospel singing hosted by the Melody Aires. There will also be a stomp dance beginning at 9 p.m. The stomp dance will be hosted by members of the Redbird Smith Ceremonial Grounds.

Early birds on Oct. 6 will have the option of the Keetoowah Cherokee Run or the Kid’s Fishing Derby, which both begin at 7 a.m.

Major festivities on Oct. 6 will kick off with the Keetoowah Cherokee Celebration Parade at 10 a.m. on Muskogee Avenue. Members of the UKB Elder Committee will serve as parade marshals. Marching bands already signed up for the parade include Northeastern State University and bands from Tahlequah, Stilwell, Oktaha, Little Kansas and Lost City schools.

Chief George Wickliffe’s State of the Nation Address will precede all other activities at the grounds, beginning at 11:45 a.m.

Following the chief’s address, the audience will meet the 2007 Keetoowah Cherokee Tradition Keepers and the Miss and Junior Miss Keetoowah Cherokee as well as hear a performance by the Keetoowah Cherokee Youth Choir. A UKB history, family histories, and UKB departmental displays will be housed in a tent on the grounds.

Other events featured Oct. 6 include traditional Keetoowah Cherokee games such as blowgun, stickball, cornstalk shoot and marbles.

Another popular event will be Keetoowah Cherokee bingo, which will begin at 3:30 p.m. The Keetoowah Cherokee Casino is promoting a $10,000 cash giveaway, with the drawings for $3,000, $2000 and five $1000 drawings to take place at 5 p.m. Oct. 6 at the Celebration Grounds. For details, call the Keetoowah Cherokee Casino at 456-9350. At 6 pm., the celebration will feature a bluegrass gospel sing at the Wellness Center.

One of the biggest events of the celebration will be an intertribal pow wow, which begins with a grand entry at 2 p.m. Oct. 6. Tiny tots and juniors will begin at 3 p.m. The Pow Wow runs to about midnight.

For information on any of the events, call 431-1818.