By: Sheryl Sowell | Category: Education | Issue: March 2012
Finger weaving demonstrations will be a part of Indian Territory Days at Cherokee Heritage Center.
Experience a living classroom of Cherokee history and culture from the 1890s at the annual Indian Territory Days! Created for students in kindergarten through 12th grade, Indian Territory Days will be held Thursday and Friday, March 29 and 30 at the Cherokee Heritage Center. The event will focus on the late 19th century prior to Oklahoma statehood and will feature educational, entertaining demonstrations and activities.
While geared toward school-age children, Indian Territory Days is also open to the public. Visitors will enjoy trained historical interpreters at ten different cultural stations. Activities will include storytelling, blowgun shooting, Cherokee marbles and a Cherokee language lesson. Demonstrations in pottery, basket weaving and finger weaving will show children the unique Cherokee lifestyle of this time period. Identical activities are conducted on both days of the event.
Tonia Weavel, director of education for the Cherokee Heritage Center, has been in charge of the event since she began working at the center 10 years ago. “The children visit a series of stations that highlight Cherokee lifestyle during the 1890s,” she explains. “We present a challenge to the students; if they can complete seven of the ten stations, they get a souvenir – a free arrowhead. We also sell old-fashioned root beer and rock candy, and the museum store will have kid-friendly priced items for sale.”
Most activities at Indian Territory Days will be held in the Adams Corner Rural Village at the Cherokee Heritage Center. The Rural Village is a representation of a Cherokee village during the late 19th century. The village houses seven recreated structures, including a log cabin, general store, church, school, smoke house, and wood framed houses for the different economic classes.
After lessons in Cherokee culture, attendees may head inside the Cherokee Heritage Center to experience the museum’s Trail of Tears exhibit. Admission is $5 per child, and all chaperoning adults will be admitted free of charge.
According to Tonia, all events at the Cherokee Heritage Center are centered on their mission to preserve, promote and teach the Cherokee culture and history. “This event is a wonderful educational experience for public, private school, and homeschooled students. It’s a fantastic opportunity for Indian children of all tribes to learn about some of the activities that were common among tribes during this time, and it also enlightens non-Indian children about the history of the geographic area we live in. We have students come from all over Oklahoma as well as surrounding states,” says Tonia. “Learning about history and culture feeds a tolerant mind. It’s an exciting, thought-provoking learning experience for everyone.”
About 30 or 40 volunteers help with Indian Territory Days, in addition to the Cherokee Heritage Center’s nearly 30 employees. “Everybody pitches in to make this a great event for the kids,” says Tonia.
The Cherokee Heritage Center is located six miles south of downtown Tahlequah. For more information about Indian Territory Days, call (918) 456-6007.
Sheryl Sowell was born and raised in Tulsa, OK. She graduated from Will Rogers High School and received her Bachelor of Arts in English from Northeastern State University in 2007. She has worked for Value News as editor, writer and advertising copywriter since 2008. She enjoys meeting and interviewing people for Value News articles, learning about their backgrounds, and helping to promote their businesses and local events. In her free time, she enjoys reading, trying new recipes and crafts from Pinterest, attending concerts and sporting events, and spending time with family and friends. Sheryl lives in Tulsa with her fiancé Paul, their daughter Scarlett, and their two dogs, Gunner and Boo.