Archived Arts & Entertainment

Native tribes across North America converge in Cherokee for Festival of Native Peoples

Witness the arresting culture of Apache, Totonac, Aztec, Crow, Navajo and Cherokee through ancient wisdom, song, dance, legend, arts and regalia all in one place. Indigenous tribes will gather for the 6th Annual Festival of Native Peoples on Friday, July 16, and Saturday, July 17, at the Cherokee Indian Fair Grounds in Cherokee.

Gates to the festival will be open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. with performances throughout the day. The Art Market Preview will be open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on July 16.

Considered the finest showcase of native dance, song and art in the Southeast, the event honors the collective history, customs and wisdom of some of the oldest documented tribes from across the Americas, including the 11,000-year-old Cherokee civilization which hosts the weekend’s revelry.

“The tribes are so different, and when we come together to celebrate our collective native heritage, we gain a better understanding of our own history and customs,” said Mary Jane Ferguson, director of marketing for the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians.

Daily admission is $10 per person; children six and under free. 800.438.1601 or visit


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The Hoop Dance


Four-time world champion Hoop Dancer Tony Duncan will create many designs and images from “The Circle of Life.” By weaving these hoops through his body the dancer creates designs such as, the eagle, a butterfly, the sun, the moon, a snake, and Mother Earth.


The Laguna Youth Group dancers share various traditional dances that are both a means of prayer and personification of the animals the Pueblo people hold sacred.


White Mountain Apache


Centuries ago, the Apache believed that there were mountain spirits living in the highest mountains near a cliff or a cave. If sickness came among the people, the mountain spirits’ medicine man had to call these spirits down from the mountain to dance during the night hours of darkness for the people, in order to bless them and keep evil spirits away. Today, there are but a few Crown Dance medicine men among the younger generation, who know the Crown Dance songs and prayers.



The spectacular Totonac dancers, known as the pole flyers, will hurl themselves from the top of a 90-foot pole in a spectacle of swirling color in honor of the sun and the Totonac calendar.

The Danza de los Voladores (Dance of the Flyers) represent 57 tribes in Mexico. This sacred ceremony is dedicated to the sun and is similar in intent to the sun dance of the Plains Indians of the United States.




The Yurapik Dance Group of Alazka performs two common styles of Eskimo dancing, Yuraq and Yurapik, a prayer dance and an inherited dance that has been passed down from generation to generation.



The Pollen Trail Navajo Dancers have been the featured dance group in the Grand Canyon area for more than eight years. They will perform: the Navajo Basket Dance, in the spirit of Hozho “Blessing Way;” Bow and Arrow Dance; The Dancing Ye’iis; and The Weaving Dance.



The Tezcatlipoca Aztec Dancers from Mexico City will perform colorful dances representing the sun, the eagle the earth ad other symbols from their land.




The band Estun-Bah combines the traditional melodies of the Native American flute with the contemporary sound of the acoustic guitar, creating a musical journey of traditional and contemporary songs.



New to the festival is one of Cherokee youngest dance groups, the Dora Reed Child Care Center Traditional Dancers. See this energetic group of dancers, ages 3 to 5, doing renditions of Cherokee dances such as Friendship, Quail, Bear, Buffalo, and Eagle. Performer Paula Nelson will share contemporary songs written in the Cherokee language.

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