TAHLEQUAH — The Cherokee National History Museum is sharing the story of the first Cherokee Christmas in a new exhibit at the Cherokee National History Museum Nov. 17-Jan. 2.
The first Cherokee Christmas took place in 1805 when Moravian missionaries were invited by Cherokee James Vann to his home in Georgia. The home was decorated with natural materials and beeswax candles. Moravian stars were made out of paper, and scriptures were written on scrolls to decorate the first Christmas tree in Cherokee Nation.
The special Christmas exhibit showcases not only how those Cherokee traditions began, but also shows how quickly they grew in popularity. In just a few years, the Christmas celebration at the Vann home hosted hundreds and featured singing, prayers and Bible readings in both English and Cherokee.
As part of the Christmas exhibit, the museum will host a special segment of Exploring Cherokee History, featuring an interview with the interpreter at the historic Vann home in Georgia.
Beginning Dec. 14, children who visit select Cherokee Nation museums will receive a free, take-home craft kit to make their own gourd ornament. A step-by-step instruction video will be posted to the Visit Cherokee Nation YouTube, Facebook and Instagram pages for those who wish to follow along. Kits will be distributed at the Cherokee National History Museum, Saline Courthouse Museum and Sequoyah’s Cabin Museum on a first-come, first-served basis.
The Cherokee National History Museum is located in one of the tribe’s most iconic structures, the Cherokee National Capitol building. It housed Cherokee Nation’s executive, legislative and judicial offices until 1906 and was most recently home to the Cherokee Nation Supreme Court until fall 2018.
The Cherokee National History Museum opened in 2019 and shares the history and culture of the Cherokee Nation within 4,000 square feet of permanent exhibit space that features Cherokee lifestyle from pre-European contact through the Trail of Tears and the revitalization of the tribe after the American Civil War. It is located at 101 S. Muskogee Ave.
Cherokee Nation museums are open Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. For information on Cherokee Nation Cultural Tourism, including museum operations, call (877) 779-6977 or visit www.VisitCherokeeNation.com.