Folkmoot celebrates Smoky Mountain culture, too!

Folkmoot celebrates Smoky Mountain culture, too!

Folkmoot celebrates Smoky Mountain culture, too!

Along with culture and musical and dance traditions from around the world, Folkmoot takes pride in and likes to also celebrate the unique culture of our own Smoky Mountains, part of the greater Blue Ridge, the land once known to our native people as Shaconage, the land of the blue smoke.

Along with dance troupes representing the Angl0-Appalachian traditions of dance and music, handed down from the 17th and 18th Century immigrants from the British Isles, our own mountain native people, Tsalagi or Cherokee – our region’s First Nation, play a prominent role in each Folkmoot Festival.

Folkmoot 2018 opens Thursday and runs through July 29 and will feature performing dance troupes from Ghana, Italy, Czech Republic, Mexico, Thailland and Northern Cyprus and Venezuela as well as Anglo Appalachian and, as always, Cherokee dancers and musicians. 

Ticket packages and tickets for individual performances are available here.

Folkmoot celebrates Smoky Mountain culture, too!Once here for the festival we invited you to stay awhile and enjoy all our beautiful region has to offer.

The entire Folkmoot Festival with travel July 24 to the town of Cherokee to celebrate for a major celebration, which will include the gift of a special dance from one of our visiting dance troupes, which also includes First Nations people, to the leadership of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians.

And one of the more subtle ways in which Folkmoot honors and celebrates our Cherokee friends is something you’ll find hanging around the necks of Folkmoot staff & volunteer festival credentials: specifically designed and hand-beaded lanyards crafted especially for Folkmoot by the festivals’ Cherokee Coordinator Lisa Wilnoty.

Lisa began making the lanyards for the 2016 festival and something of a “new tradition” appears to have been born. She has continued to make more lanyards each year since.

Her journey into lanyard making began just over four years ago when she decided to pursue her passion for traditional Cherokee crafts. Her husband, Freddy Wilnoty II, showed her the basics and from there she began creating her own designs.

When designing these beautifully beaded lanyards, she incorporates an array of colors, especially watercolors to be used as a representation for how water gives and sustains life. 

Many of the guides and staff look at these hand-beaded lanyards as a symbol of Folkmoot, a unique keepsake of all the wonderful memories from the festival. They all recognize the hard work that Lisa puts into making these special gifts. It is humbling to receive one and an honor. 

 “The lanyard represents a sense of unity,” said Festival Guide Gracie Feichter. “All of the colors blend beautifully together, much like we do in our own world. Even though the pattern of beading on each lanyard is different, it symbolizes how we are able to create something beautiful if we work together.”

Cherokee is fascinating for visiting Folkmoot performers!

Cherokee is fascinating for visiting Folkmoot performers!

Cherokee is fascinating for visiting Folkmoot performers!

The town of Cherokee and the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians always draw the particular interest of international dance troupes visiting Western Carolina from around the globe for our annual Folkmoot Festival.

And for good reason, of course.

The story of the Cherokee people is both tragic and triumphant. Tsalagi history, heritage, legends and traditions are Smoky Mountain treasures more valuable than the gems once plentiful in these ancient peaks. It is rare, indeed, for international dancers to arrive without a thirst for more knowledge and understanding about First Nation people of America.

We expect the Folkmoot 2018 visiting dance troupes will be no exception. And, as an added element, at least 10 members of our visiting Le Ragazze Italiane dance troupe of Canada are also members of the Canadian Métis (pronounced, “maytee”) First Nation people. 

They will perform a special dance for Cherokee tribal leaders when the dancers visit the tribe on Cherokee Day, July 24.

Folkmoot 2018 opens July 19 and runs through July 29 and will feature performing dance troupes from Ghana, Italy, Czech Republic, Mexico, Thailland and Northern Cyprus and Venezuela as well as Anglo Appalachian and, as always, Cherokee dancers and musicians. 

Ticket packages and tickets for individual performances are available here.

Once here for the festival we invited you to stay awhile and enjoy all our beautiful region has to offer.

For it’s part, the tribe has assigned special representatives, officially designated ambassadors, outstanding young members of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, to each of the visiting dance troupes to teach them about Cherokee tradition.

Cherokee is fascinating for visiting Folkmoot performers!
Amy West

Amy West attends Mars Hill University and is a senior studying elementary education. She is the president of their Native American Student Association. She enjoys babysitting and teaching Sunday school at Big Cove Baptist Church. This is her second year as an ambassador with the Folkmoot festival.

 

Cherokee is fascinating for visiting Folkmoot performers!
Mystikal Spirit Armachain

Mystikal Spirit Armachain is eighteen years old, her last name meaning “Backwater.” She is a member of the deer clan within the EBCI. She grew up traditionally learning her native language, crafts and traditions. Her native roots led her to work at the Oconaluftee Indian Village. This is her second year of being an ambassador for Folkmoot.

Cherokee is fascinating for visiting Folkmoot performers!
Karyl Frankiewicz

 

Karyl Frankiewicz is a former Miss Cherokee and former Miss Indian North Carolina. She is a second-time ambassador this year at the Folkmoot festival and does traditional craftwork such as beadwork, pottery, basketry, and finger weaving. She loves playing sports and has her own adult team for a local league.

 

Cherokee is fascinating for visiting Folkmoot performers!
Amorie Gunter

Amorie Gunter will be an ambassador for the second time at this year’s Folkmoot festival. She is last year’s Miss Cherokee and is currently a teacher at Cherokee Elementary School. She loves participating in the festival because it gives her an opportunity to learn about other cultures while educating others about her cultures, traditions, and home.

 

Cherokee is fascinating for visiting Folkmoot performers!
Faith Long

Faith Long is the current Miss Cherokee at nineteen years old. She is in the Jones-Bowman leadership award program and a business management major at Carson-Newman University. She is a 25 under 25 class of 2018 inductee for UNITY (United National Indian Tribal Youth).  She is excited to be a part of the festival this year.

 

Cherokee is fascinating for visiting Folkmoot performers!
Raylen Bark

Raylen Bark is the current Teen Miss Cherokee and her favorite sport to play is basketball. She attends Cherokee High School and her favorite color is blue. She’s excited to be a part of the festival this year.

 

Cherokee is fascinating for visiting Folkmoot performers!
Dvdaya Swimmer

Dvdaya Swimmer is the 11-year-old daughter of Micah and Carrah Swimmer. She is this year’s Junior Miss Cherokee and attends Cherokee Elementary in the fifth grade. She plays basketball, fastpitch softball, performs Cherokee social dances, dances fancy shawl at powwows, and is on the Smoky Mountain Youth Competition Cheer team. Her life goal is to be a representation of her Cherokee people and give her best shot at life and giving back.

Our volunteer spotlight shines on Michelle Romberger

Our volunteer spotlight shines on Michelle RombergerOur volunteer spotlight shines on Michelle Romberger

Our volunteer spotlight shines on Michelle Romberger for the countless volunteer hours she gives to Folkmoot.

Together with husband, Keith Romberger, the couple have been actively involved with Folkmoot for 16 years and have made Folkmoot a family adventure by bringing along their son and daugther.

An assistant first grade teacher and bus driver at Hazelwood Elementary School, Michelle loves not only her work with children but she also loves spending time with her family, creating arts and crafts and her Folkmoot volunteer every chance she gets.

Our volunteer spotlight shines on Michelle Romberger
Michelle Romberger

“Volunteering is just who I am, she said. “It’s in my blood.”

Folkmoot 2018 opens July 19 and runs through July 29 and will feature performing dance troupes from Ghana, Italy, Czech Republic, Mexico, Thailland and Northern Cyprus and Venezuela as well as Anglo Appalachian and, as always, Cherokee dancers and musicians. 

Ticket packages and tickets for individual performances are available here.

Knowing that she had bus driving experience, one of Michelle’s close friends suggested that she volunteer for Folkmoot as a driver during the festival. She did. But she also soon wanted to branch out within the organization. Michelle is now the Night Lead for the Cafeteria.

She has volunteered countless hours cooking for friendship dinners, creating the menu for the upcoming festival and providing upkeep to the kitchen.

Since her first connection with Folkmoot, Michelle fell in love with the mission of the organization. She calls it an opportunity of a lifetime. Michelle absolutely loved the performers from the Netherlands (including their reappearance at the 2017 Festival). Their joyful spirit, unique personalities and noticeable efforts to interact with her in the kitchen, made the Netherland performers a personal favorite.

We want to thank Michelle for all that she does for Folkmoot. She is a highly valued team member, appreciated for her hard work and positive attitude. She loves to be a part of what makes Folkmoot so special. Michelle believes everyone should volunteer somewhere to help give back to their community. She encourages all lovers of culture, music, and dance to volunteer at Folkmoot.

For more information on volunteering opportunities, contact Catherine MacCallum, operations and volunteer coordinator, 828-452-2997, x105, or fill out this online form.

A Métis dance for the Cherokee people

A Métis dance for the Cherokee people

Métis dance for the Cherokee people will be a featured cultural exchange July 24 when Folkmoot 2018 takes our international dancers to visit our Western Carolina First Nation residents

At least 10 members of our visiting Le Ragazze Italiane dance troupe of Canada, as it turns out, are also members of the Canadian Métis (pronounced, “maytee”) First Nation people. 

A Métis dance for the Cherokee peopleTo honor their visit to Cherokee the Métis members of Le Ragazze will dance a, “thank you,” for Cherokee Principal Chief Richard Sneed and Vice Chief Alan B. Ensley. The dance, one of the most famous Métis dances is, “La Gigue de la Rivière-Rouge,” or as it is known in Michif, “oayache mannin,” or in English, “The Red River Jig.”

Its accompanying fiddle tune is considered an unofficial Métis anthem. The dance is a combination of Plains First Nations footwork with Scottish, Irish and French-Canadian dance forms. The basic jig step is danced in most Métis communities. Dancers often add their own solo dance steps during certain segments of the tune. Some dancers even use solo steps to identify their home community.

The dance and exchange between our Canadian Métis friends and our Cherokee friends is sure to be a highlight of Cultural Ambassador Day in Cherokee, July 24

Folkmoot 2018 opens July 19 and runs through July 29 and will feature performing dance troupes from Ghana, Italy, Czech Republic, Mexico, Thailland and Northern Cyprus and Venezuela as well as Anglo Appalachian and, as always, Cherokee dancers and musicians. 

Ticket packages and tickets for individual performances are available here.

The Red River Jig finds its origins in the Red River Settlement (Winnipeg). One dance origin story explains how the Scottish lived on one side of the river, and the French Canadians and Métis lived on the other. The Scots played bagpipes on the one side of the river, while the people on the other side listened. Then one night a man decided to imitate the bagpipes with his fiddle, turning what was a lament into a rollicking jig that made everyone want to dance.

A short history of the Métis

The advent of the fur trade in west central North America during the 18th century was accompanied by a growing number of mixed  offspring of Aboriginal women and European fur traders.  

As this population established distinct communities separate from those of  First Nations and Europeans and married among themselves, a new Aboriginal people emerged  – the Métis people – with their own unique culture, traditions, language (Michif – a derivative of French and Oji-Cree), way of life, collective consciousness and nationhood.

Distinct Métis communities developed  along the routes of the fur trade and across the Northwest within the Métis Nation homeland. This homeland includes the three Prairie provinces (Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta), as well as parts of  the Northern United States.

Today, many of these historic Métis communities continue to exist along  rivers and lakes where forts and posts were hubs of fur trade activity from Ontario westward. As well, large numbers of Métis citizens now live in urban centres within the Métis Nation Homeland; however, even within these larger populations, well-defined Métis communities exist.

Consistently throughout history, the Métis people have acted collectively to protect and fight for their rights, lands and ongoing existence as a distinct Aboriginal people and nation within the Canadian federation –from the Métis provisional governments of Riel in Manitoba (1869-70) and Saskatchewan (1885) to contemporary Métis governing bodies. This dedication continues to exist as citizens and communities throughout the Métis Nation Homeland  keep the nation’s distinct culture, traditions, language and lifestyle alive and pursue their own social and economic development. 40,000 people in the city of Winnipeg identify as Métis. For the most part, their first language is French.

The Red River Jig:

Cherokee people strengthen ties with Folkmoot

Cherokee people strengthen ties with Folkmoot

The Cherokee people strengthen ties with Folkmoot through the award of a grant from the Cherokee Preservation Foundation.

The grant, announced May 7th, is part of a long-standing relationship between Folkmoot and the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indian.

In addition to bringing to Western North Carolina folk dancing troupes and slices of culture from around the world, Folkmoot also strives to promote our own region’s  rich cultural heritage and no regional cultural heritage shines brighter – nor with more history or value – than that of the Cherokee people, the Tsalagi.

“Folkmoot is grateful for Cherokee community partnerships which lead to cultural understanding and for the technical assistance provided by the Cherokee Preservation Foundation which makes Folkmoot a stronger organization,” said Folkmoot Executive Director Angeline Schwab. “Cherokee heritage and history is vitally important in our region. We look forward to many years of partnership.”

Cherokee dancers are an integral and celebrated part of the Folkmoot Festival each July and always among the most popular dance troupes to perform each year. Folkmoot also participates in and hosts events throughout the remainder of the year celebrating Cherokee culture and history.

Folkmoot 2018 opens July 19 and runs through July 29 and will feature performing dance troupes from Ghana, Italy, Czech Republic, Mexico, Thailland and Northern Cyprus and Venezuela as well as Anglo Appalachian and, as always, Cherokee dancers and musicians. 

Ticket packages and tickets for individual performances are available here.

The Folkmoot grant was one of 20 individual grants announced Monday by the Cherokee Preservation Foundation. The grants are awarded to partners which “meet the Foundation’s mission of improving the quality of life for the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indian (EBCI) and the surrounding region,” according to the Foundation.

The complete list of Foundation grantees is published in the Cherokee One Feather, a link to which is here.

In the past decade, the Foundation has handed out over $166 million in grants and awards. It received in February the award for Outstanding Foundation Award from the Association of Fund-Raising Professionals.

The Cherokee Preservation Foundation’s full mission is to “preserve our native culture, protect and enhance our natural environment, and create appropriate and diverse economic opportunities in order to improve the quality of life for the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI) and our neighbors in western North Carolina.

Enjoy this short video of Cherokee dancers teaching Folkmoot performance patrons a traditional Cherokee dance:

Cherokee Beloved Man Jerry Wolfe passes on

Cherokee Beloved Man Jerry Wolfe passes on

The Cherokee people, the State of North Carolina, the nation and, indeed, the world is mourning today as Cherokee Beloved Man Jerry Wolfe passes on.

Folkmoot lost a cherished friend, mentor, adviser in his death and the Tsalagi people lost a hero, historian, story-teller, grandfather figure to all and one of its national treasures – the first formally named Beloved Man since the 1800s.

Wolfe’s passing was announced last night in a Facebook post by the Cherokee One Feather. UPDATE: His obituary and information on services have been published in the One Feather.

Cherokee leader and Folkmoot friend, Lisa Spring Wilnoty eulogized Wolfe in a Facebook post of her own last night.

Folkmoot was honored, just last summer, to participate in a surprise ceremony for Wolfe during which he was awarded North Carolina’s highest civilian honor, the Order of the Long Leaf Pine.

Jerry Wolfe honored in the summer of 2017 with the Order of the Long Leaf Pine. (Photos by Holly Kays of the Smoky Mountain News).

An extraordinary person by any measure, Wolfe’s decades of self-sacrifice and hard work on behalf of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, will place him in the pantheon of greatest Cherokee legends and American heroes. 

Although there are and have been Beloved Women in Tsalagi tradition, Wolfe was the ribe’s first Beloved Man in nearly 200 years.

Raised in Cherokee, Wolfe grew up learning traditional Cherokee customs, attended a Cherokee boarding school and then enlisted in the U.S. Navy during WWII. Six years later, he returned to Cherokee, married, and began learning building trades including stone masonry, which he taught for twenty years with the federal Job Corps Program.

Upon retirement, he traveled with mission teams to third world countries and participated in building projects.  

Wolfe, who was fluent in the Cherokee language, spent much of his time in recent years telling tales at the Cherokee Museum, where both traditional Cherokee stories and personal stories serve as a means by which to preserve and share Cherokee culture.

“We’re honored and thrilled that this experience is part of the 2017 Folkmoot Festival,” said Angie Schwab, Folkmoot’s Executive Director at the summer 2017 ceremony honoring Wolfe. “Our mission as an organization is aligned with that of the Cherokee which is the promotion of community across cultures.”

Since its creation in 1963, the Order of the Long Leaf Pine has been presented by N.C.’s Governor to honor persons who have a proven record of service to the State of North Carolina and their communities. Past recipients are Andy Griffith, Billy Graham, Maya Angelou, Earl Scruggs, Kenny Rogers, Oprah Winfrey, Balsam Range banjo maestro Dr. Marc Pruett and, recently, Brenda O’Keefe of Joey’s Pancake House in Maggie Valley.

Wolfe was recognized by many organizations and received many honors over the years for his cultural knowledge. In 2003, he received the North Carolina Folk Heritage Award and in 2010, he received the Brown-Hudson Folklore Award from the North Carolina Folklore Society. He has been a Beloved Man since 2015 – but in reality, probably for much, much longer.  

Finale weekend in Asheville and Waynesville!

Finale weekend in Asheville and Waynesville!

Folkmoot 2016 has been nothing short of spectacular and all the energies are building toward a huge finale weekend in Asheville and Waynesville! Thousands of Western North Carolinians and visitors to the region have piled through the (imaginary) turnstiles at venues from Franklin to Hickory – and many points in between – to witness the … Read moreFinale weekend in Asheville and Waynesville!

Folkmoot 2016 Thursday in Franklin, NC

Folkmoot 2016 Thursday in Franklin, NC

It will be parades and pageantry all over the place for Folkmoot 2016 Thursday in Franklin, NC! With its largest presence ever, Folkmoot will have two major events in Franklin: a 4 p.m. parade through downtown and a 7 p.m. performance of all groups at the Smoky Mountain Center for the Performing Arts. This will … Read moreFolkmoot 2016 Thursday in Franklin, NC

A very special Wednesday for Folkmoot 2016

A very special Wednesday for Folkmoot 2016

A very special Wednesday for Folkmoot 2016. With performances set for Hendersonville and a a premier performance at Asheville’s Hazel Robinson Amphitheater July 27 will be a red-letter date in Folkmoot history. The Hendersonville performance is a matinee – 2 p.m. at Blue Ridge Community College – a traditional Folkmoot appearance in recent years. The … Read moreA very special Wednesday for Folkmoot 2016

It’s Cherokee Day on Tuesday for Folkmoot

It's Cherokee Day on Tuesday for Folkmoot

It’s Cherokee Day on Tuesday for Folkmoot 2016. The dancers of this year’s festival – from the Dominican Republic, Finland, France, Peru, Poland and our special Mexico-Texas team – will spend most of the day learning about the Tsalagi, our people native to the Smoky Mountains or Tsakonage in the Tsalagi language (the place of blue … Read moreIt’s Cherokee Day on Tuesday for Folkmoot

Folkmoot 2016: Hickory & Waynesville today!

Folkmoot 2016: Hickory & Waynesville today!

After a raucous and very active opening weekend, the fun continues for Folkmoot 2016: Hickory & Waynesville today! We always look forward to our visit to Hickory. Two performances set for today, 3 p.m. and 6 p.m., at the Drendel Auditorium, formerly the SALT Block Auditorium.  Call 828-326-0256 to order tickets directly. $10.00 for Adults/ $5.00 … Read moreFolkmoot 2016: Hickory & Waynesville today!

Town of Waynesville to Folkmoot: $35,000

Town of Waynesville to Folkmoot: $35,000

A gift from the Town of Waynesville to Folkmoot: $35,000. The Town of Waynesville has been a friend and supporter of Folkmoot from the very beginning and its participation – on behalf of the citizens and taxpayers of Waynesville – is a huge part of what makes this organization successful. This year, the town made … Read moreTown of Waynesville to Folkmoot: $35,000