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Cherokee National Holiday facts for kids

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Cherokee national holiday2007
Arts and crafts booths on the Cherokee Heritage Center grounds, Cherokee National Holiday, 2007

The Cherokee National Holiday is an annual event held each Labor Day weekend in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. The event celebrates the September 6, 1839 signing of the Constitution of the Cherokee Nation in Oklahoma after the Trail of Tears Indian removal ended.

Origins and activities

Originally begun in 1953, the event has grown into one of the largest festivals in Oklahoma, attracting in excess of 70,000 attendees coming from all over the United States. Many attendees are also tribal members of the "Five Civilized Tribes" (the Cherokee, and also the Chickasaws, the Choctaws, Creeks, and Seminoles). Others who routinely attend the event are the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians located in western North Carolina and also the United Keetowah Band which, like the Cherokee Nation, are headquartered in Tahlequah.

The holiday hosts many different cultural and artistic events such as a two-night intertribal pow wow, stickball, Cherokee marbles, horseshoes and cornstalk shoot tournaments, softball tournaments, rodeos, car and art shows, gospel singings, the annual Miss Cherokee pageant, the Cherokee National Holiday parade, and the annual "State of the Nation" address by the Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation.

Stickball match
Cherokee National Holiday stickball match on the grounds of Sequoyah High School, Tahlequah, Oklahoma

Celebration themes

Each year a committee chooses a new theme for the annual celebration. Some recent themes have included:

  • We the People of the Cherokee Nation: Celebrating Tribal Sovereignty - (68th Annual) 2020
  • Rising Together - (67th Annual) 2019
  • Family: A bridge to the future, a link to the past - (66th Annual) 2018
  • Water is Sacred - (65th Annual) 2017
  • Stewards of Our Land - (64th Annual) 2016
  • Reunion - (63rd Annual) 2015
  • Homes. Health. Hope. - (62nd Annual) 2014
  • Homes. Health. Hope. – (61st Annual) 2013
  • From One Fire to a Proud Future – (60th Annual) 2012
  • Jobs, Language and Community – (59th Annual) 2011
  • Happy, Healthy People – (58th Annual) 2010
  • Learn from all that I observe – (57th Annual) 2009
  • Planting the Seed Corn For Our Children's Future – (56th Annual) 2008
  • The Cherokee Nation Continues in Full Force and Effect – (54th Annual) 2006
  • Celebrating the State of Sequoyah – (53rd Annual) 2005
  • The Spirit of the Trail – (52nd Annual) 2004
  • The Strength of Our Nation – (51st Annual) 2003
  • Building One Fire – (50th Annual) 2002
  • Celebrating The Seven Clans – (49th Annual) 2001


Due to COVID-19 pandemic, the 68th Annual Cherokee National Holiday will be a "virtual holiday". Many events will still take place and spectators will be able to watch online to see the Chief's State of the Nation address, Cherokee art show, Miss Cherokee competition, as well as, demonstrations of traditional games. However, events such as the annual parade, fishing derby, powwow, softball tournament, arts and crafts, food markets and vendors are canceled and will resume next year.

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