Many of us gathered together in Cherokee, North Carolina for "Returning to One: The Art of Ceremonial Communion with Places of Sacred Power" where we had the honor of meeting and being in the presence of one of the great elders, Walker Calhoun.
In Memoriam: Walker Calhoun 1918-2012
Walker Calhoun, 93, passed away on March 28. He was known as a traditional elder. He was born in Big Cove, where he grew up speaking the Cherokee language. He was a veteran and served in World War II. He learned about Cherokee traditions and dances from his uncle, Will West Long. Some of his knowledge of traditional songs and stories was recorded on the tape and CD “Where Ravens Roost,” a reference to the Cherokee name for Big Cove, Kolanvyi or raven place. In 1988 he created a traditional dance group with his family, the Raven Rock Dancers. In 1989 he and his family created a traditional stomp grounds where the fire was brought from Oklahoma. In 2002, he helped form the group the Warriors of AniKituhwa, singing dance songs until he was no longer able to travel with the group for health reasons. He helped teach Cherokee language classes at the Museum beginning in 2003.
Calhoun received many awards for his work in preserving and passing on Cherokee traditions. In 1988 he received the Sequoyah Award from the Eastern Band and Cherokee Nation. He received the North Carolina Folk Heritage Award in 1990, and in 1992 Calhoun was presented a National Folk Heritage Award by the National Endowment for the Arts. He was a consultant for the National Museum of the American Indian prior to its opening in 2004. He received the Mountain Heritage Award in 2004. He will be missed by many.
I invite you to go to Mingo Falls in your dreamtime....to sit in silence by the water, to rattle, to offer prayer for this honored grandfather who taught so many to remember...