Sunday, January 17, 2010

Cherokee guests a big hit at Reinhardt!

I really cannot say enough about how wonderful our guests from the Cherokee Nation were this past week. A big hearty "Thank You" is in order for cultural spokesperson Gina Burnett and genealogist Gene Norris, both of the Cherokee Heritage Center in Park Hill, Oklahoma, and storyteller Robert Lewis of the Cherokee Nation in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. I was fortunate enough to spend some time with these folks during their visit, and they were all three just delightful people, very knowledgeable and very friendly and generous with their time.

They spoke to a couple of classes while they were here. Then on Thursday afternoon I watched as Gina and Robert held a crowd of about 40 people spellbound in the library as they combined the history of the Cherokee people with traditional storytelling. That evening, Gene had a standing-room-only crowd in the Funk Heritage Center for his talk on Cherokee genealogy, and then he stayed for an hour looking at documents and talking to people about their ancestors. Friday, after touring local historic sites with Reinhardt faculty, they entertained the Brownies of Troop 2815 at Hagan Chapel. Gina told the girls about the important role women held in Cherokee society, and Robert had them literally rolling in the aisle. The scouts need to send them a box of cookies! If you didn't get the chance to attend any of their talks or performances this week, what can I say? You missed out! Thanks to the Year of North American Indigenous Peoples for bringing these speakers to Reinhardt.

Here, Funk Heritage Center director Dr. Joe Kitchens (center) poses with Robert Lewis and Gina Burnett.

Library director and "Year Of" chairman Michael Martinez also poses for a photograph with Robert and Gina. Where was Gene?

He was still visiting with the attendees of his genealogy presentation. Here Gene Norris is looking at a scrapbook a resident has compiled of information about her Cherokee ancestors.

Thanks to Dr. Kitchens for the photos.

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