Red Clay State Historic Park Hosts Cherokee Cultural Celebration November 12-13

Thursday, November 03, 2022 | 11:08am

Red Clay State Historic Park will host the Cherokee Cultural Celebration on Saturday and Sunday November 12-13, featuring demonstrations, traditional dancing, craft vendors, and food vendors from federally recognized Cherokee tribes.

The public is invited to the event scheduled 10 a.m.-5 p.m. The cost is $5 per vehicle.

The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians and the Cherokee Nation will attend, and the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians may also be present. Vendors and demonstrators are all citizens of the tribes, and all crafts at the celebration will be handmade by the vendors. The event also comes as November is recognized as Native American Heritage Month.

Troy Wayne Poteete, a former Supreme Court justice of the Cherokee Nation, will give a lecture titled, “Motivations and Considerations of the Treaty Party: Why a group of Cherokee leaders would risk their lives to sign an illegal treaty.”

Red Clay State Historic Park is the site of the last seat of the Cherokee national government before the 1838 enforcement of the Indian Removal Act of 1830 by the U.S. military. The law resulted in most of the Cherokee people in the area being forced to move west. The Trail of Tears began at every family’s doorstep, and at Red Clay Council grounds they learned they were going to lose their mountains, streams, and valleys forever. The Eternal Flame at Red Clay State Park is a memorial for the Cherokee people and those who were lost on the Trail of Tears.

“Red Clay is a significant and sacred site to the Cherokee people,” said Park Manager Erin Medley. “It is of the utmost importance for them to be actively involved in the interpretation. The Cherokee Cultural Celebration is a way for them to come back to their homeland and educate future generations about their history and culture. It is such an honor to host this event.” 

Two Cherokee leaders made statements about the upcoming event.

Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. of the Cherokee Nation: “Red Clay is a significant and historical site for the Cherokee people, the last seat of our Cherokee national government before the 1838 enforcement of the Indian Removal Act of 1830. At Red Clay, the eternal flame is a memorial to those lost on the Trail of Tears. It symbolizes the spirit of the Cherokee people and our historic connection to this site in Tennessee.

”As Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation, I appreciate the commitment of those at Red Clay State Park to not only maintain the historical connection of the land and the Cherokee people, but to also share our story with all who visit the beautiful site throughout the year. We are a proud sponsor for this event. We look forward to working more closely with Red Clay State Park on future celebrations, as this site is of enduring historic significance to the Cherokee people.”

Chief Richard Sneed of the Eastern Band of Cherokee: “The Eternal Flame represents the Ceremonial Fire of the Cherokee people, which has burned from time immemorial. In 1984, I had the distinct honor of joining nine other Cherokee men as torch runners bringing the Eternal Flame to Red Clay, from Cherokee, North Carolina. Relighting the flame at Red Clay will restore the visible reminder to all who visit the park, that the Cherokee are now, and have always been, the Aniyvwiya, the Principal People.”   

Red Clay State Park is home to Blue Hole Spring, a natural landmark used by the Cherokee for their water supply during council meetings. The James F. Corn Interpretive Facility contains exhibits on the 19th Century Cherokee, the Trail of Tears, Cherokee art, a video theater, gift shop and small library. More information on the park is available at