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June 10, 2010

Cherokee delegation returns to CW’s Historic Area, re-creating 18th-century diplomatic emissaries of sovereign nations

Colonial Williamsburg guests experience an 18th-century “state visit” as a delegation of the Eastern Band of Cherokee re-enacts an official visit to the colonial capital Saturday - Sunday, June 5-6.

Through the “Return of the Cherokee” weekend, the Eastern Band of Cherokee’s Warriors of Ani Kituwha follow in the footsteps of their ancestors as they re-create important treaty negotiations and share their cultural life through traditional dance performances and other activities.

During Williamsburg’s 18th-century prominence as capital of Britain’s largest and wealthiest North American colony, Cherokee delegations traveled to Williamsburg regularly where they were honored and regarded as official envoys of sovereign nations. In June 1777, Patrick Henry and members of the Virginia Council met with “upwards of 40 gentlemen and ladies of the Cherokee nation…now here on a negotiation of peace, which is hoped will be everlasting…promising, in future, the most inviolable friendship to this and the other United States.” Chiefs Attakullakulla and Oconastota convened with their colonial counterparts to discuss a trade agreement, an alliance against Great Britain and to negotiate a boundary dispute. On several occasions after diplomatic exchanges, the Cherokee “favored the public with a dance…where a considerable number of spectators…were agreeably entertained.”

“Return of the Cherokee” is presented as part of Colonial Williamsburg’s American Indian Initiative in partnership with the Museum of the Cherokee Indian and the Cherokee Historical Association. “Return of the Cherokee is a continuation of years of building relationships and cooperation between Colonial Williamsburg and the Eastern Band’s cultural partners,” said Buck Woodard, manager of the American Indian Initiative for Colonial Williamsburg’s department of public history. “Primary documentation, accounts and other evidence of nearly 20 Cherokee delegations in 18th-century Williamsburg is surprisingly plentiful and that historical record allows us to faithfully re-create these visits.”

Guests can explore the world of Williamsburg’s 18th-century Indian visitors through a discussion of efforts to revitalize their 18th-century cultural traditions during “Return of the Cherokee: Renewing Old Traditions” presented by the Museum of the Cherokee Indian and members of the Eastern Band of Cherokee in the Hennage Auditorium 11 a.m. Saturday. The experience continues as the Cherokee renew “Our Bond of Peace” with Patrick Henry at 5 p.m. Saturday at the Capitol West Gate. Both programs are available with a Colonial Williamsburg admission ticket or Good Neighbor Pass. The general public are free to visit the Cherokee’s “Public Dance” on the Palace Green 1:30 p.m. Saturday and in the Market Square 11 a.m. Sunday.

The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation is the not-for-profit educational and cultural institution dedicated to the preservation, interpretation and presentation of the restored 18th-century Revolutionary capital of Virginia. This town-sized living history museum tells the inspirational stories of our journey to become Americans through programs in the Historic Area and through the award-winning Revolutionary City program. Explore The Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg and discover the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum featuring the best in British and American decorative arts from 1670 – 1830 and the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum home to the nation’s premier collection of American folk art, comprising more than 5,000 folk art objects made during the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries. Colonial Williamsburg Hotels feature conference spaces and recreation activities from spa and fine dining to world-class golf. Colonial Williamsburg is committed to expanding its thought-provoking programming through education outreach on-site and online. Purchase of Colonial Williamsburg products and services supports the preservation, research and educational programs of the Foundation.

Williamsburg is located in Virginia’s Tidewater region, 20 minutes from Newport News, within an hour’s drive of Richmond and Norfolk, and 150 miles south of Washington, D.C. For more information about Colonial Williamsburg, call 1-800-HISTORY or visit Colonial Williamsburg’s Web site at

Media Contact:
Jim Bradley
(757) 220-7281