Museum to take Cherokee story to wider audience in 2012

The Museum of the Cherokee Indian will take its story on the road in 2012, holding a series of new programs showcasing Ostenaco’s and Henry Timberlake’s journey to each other’s countries 250 years ago in a traveling exhibit called ‘Emissaries of Peace.’

The museum will celebrate this story and explore the two cultures — Cherokee and British — with seven events in four states.  

“We are looking forward to these exciting events, and taking this story of two cultures to a wider audience,” said Ken Blankenship, executive director of the Museum of the Cherokee Indian and an enrolled tribal member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians.

In 2006, the museum created the exhibit, “Emissaries of Peace: 1762 Cherokee and British Delegations.” It was designated a “We the People” exhibit by the National Endowment for the Humanities. This designation is awarded to projects that encourage and strengthen the understanding of American history and culture and that advance knowledge of the principles that define America.

During 2012, seven events and a public television broadcast will tell this story to new audiences. A battle re-enactment, festivals with 18th century Cherokee living history, scholarly symposia, a television broadcast and a trip to London will take place from Memorial Day through November. Additionally, a smaller version of the Emissaries exhibit will be on display at Fort Necessity National Battlefield in Farmington, Penn., and at the Sequoyah Birthplace Museum in Vonore, Tenn., while the original exhibit resides at the Museum of the Cherokee Indian in Cherokee. Two additional small exhibits are available for rental.

Performances throughout the year bring history to life. Henry Timberlake and Ostenaco will provide first person historical interpretation. The Warriors of AniKituwha, a traditional Cherokee dance group sponsored by the Museum, will be performing at all venues.

As official cultural ambassadors, this dance group has been at the center of cultural revitalization for Cherokee people. They have inspired pride in a little-known period of Cherokee history when Cherokees took part in global events. Timberlake’s description of the War Dance that welcomed him is the basis for their revival of this and other traditional Cherokee dances. Research used in the exhibit has inspired and helped create cultural revitalization in traditional dance, Cherokee clothing, pottery, fingerweaving, feather capes and more.  

The exhibit has been viewed by more than two million people since its opening in 2006. It was the first exhibit created by an American Indian tribe to be displayed at the Smithsonian, opening in 2007 at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History.


Emissaries of Peace 2012 schedule

• May 26-27 — Reenactment of Montgomery and Grant expedition, battles on site, Macon County.

• May 1 — Oconaluftee Indian village opens with Timberlake and Ostenaco in residence June-August.

• June 10 — Cherokee Voices Festival at the Museum of the Cherokee Indian and grand re-opening of the Emissaries exhibit.

• June 15 — Cherokee London Tour — Tour of places visited by the Cherokees in 1762:  

• June 22-23 — Timberlake in the Overhills: Ft. Loudon State Historic Site. Symposium with scholars;

• July 7-8 — Ft. Necessity National Battlefield in Pennsylvania.

• July 18-22 — Timberlake and Ostenaco in Williamsburg, Va.

• Sept. 14-15 — Grand finale with Southeast Tribes Festival in Cherokee.

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