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 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.  

Miss Cherokee To Participate In Several Folkmoot Events

Siyo nigada, amoli galoqwedi dogwado nole talsgo shogwo yegwedetiyvda.”

Amorie Gunter is a 21-year-old student pursuing her education online at Johnson & Wales. She currently works as an assistant teacher at Cherokee Elementary and hopes to one day become the Human Resource Manager for the tribe. She also is the 2016-2017 Miss Cherokee and will pass on her crown in October of this year.

“It is a pleasure to be involved with Folkmoot for the first time! I am so excited to be able to spend time with the international groups and learn about their culture, as well as teach them about mine. I feel like Cherokee Ambassador Day is such an important event because it brings so much interest to our tribe from individuals of different countries who may have never seen Cherokee without the help of Folkmoot. I am so honored to be apart of this year’s events. Sgi, thank you!” said Gunter.

Miss Cherokee will be a flag bearer for several Folkmoot events including the Gala, Grand Opening performance at Stuart Auditorium, Cherokee Ambassador Day, and the Candlelight Closing. She will also be a Cherokee Ambassador for the Parade of Nations in Waynesville.

The public is invited to join Folkmoot’s international groups and Cherokee Ambassadors on Tuesday, July 25th, for a tour through Oconaluftee Indian Village, Museum of the Cherokee Indians, Eastern Band of Cherokee Indian Council House, Qualla Arts and Crafts, and Mingo Falls. A catered lunch by Nikki’s Frybread will be served at the Fairgrounds.

Go to folkmoot.org for tickets!

Say Hello To Our 2017 Performers


Folkmoot has eight international groups coming to the festival this year, and even though many of the performers can speak English, it is not the primary language for most of them. Our mission is to build lasting friendships on a global level and that begins with interaction! Take a look at common greetings used in the languages of our performers and don’t be afraid to say hello.



Group: Sentimiento Criollo

Hola (oh-la)

The official language of Argentina is Spanish. However Argentinian Spanish is different from Spanish spoken in Spain or Latin America. Spanish spoken in Argentina sounds similar to Italian. One distinct difference in Argentina Spanish is the use of vos instead of tu (the familiar Spanish form of you). Greetings between strangers or business associates consist of a handshake and greetings between friends is accompanied with a kiss on the right cheek.


Hola can be translated to “hello” in English.

Encantado (when directed at a male) and Encatanda (when directed at a female) can be translated to “delighted to meet you” or “charmed.”



Group: Utkarsh

नमस्ते Namaste (Nam-e-sta)

India has two official languages including Hindi as well as English. The Hindi language is spoken by nearly 45 percent of Indians. During the British Raj, English was used at the federal level, but in 1950, the Indian constitution envisioned that Hindi would gradually replace English, thus making Hindi the sole language of India.  This ideal was met with some resistance in certain parts of the country. Greetings can be accompanied with a handshake, however, greetings by placing both hands together with a slight bow are much appreciated and show respect for Indian customs. In Indian culture, men do not touch women in formal greetings.


नमस्ते Namaste (Nam-e-sta) can be translated to “hello” in English.



Group: Ayalot Hanegev

שָׁלוֹם (Shalom)

The people of Israel are linguistically and culturally diverse. Hebrew and Arabic are the two official languages in Israel and English is the second language and spoken by the majority of the population. The version of Hebrew that the Israeli population speaks is a modern language that is based on different dialects of ancient Hebrew and influenced by other languages such as English, Slavic, Arabic, and German. When greeting someone for the first time, a handshake is appropriate for both social and business settings.


שָׁלוֹם (Shalom) can be used as a greeting or goodbye and can be translated to “hello” or “peace be with you” in English.




Group: Dance Group Paloina Amsterdam

Hallo (Hall-Oh)

Most people from the Netherlands speak Dutch, which is the official language of the country. The Dutch language is a West Germanic language that originated from Old Frankish dialects. Learning other languages is popular and around 90% of the population is able to either converse in English, German, French, or Spanish. It is cultural etiquette to shake hands with everyone present at a business or social meeting.


Hallo can be translated to “hello” in English.



Group: Ogon’ki

Здравствуйте (Zdra-stvooi-te)


Russian is an East Slavic language and an official language in Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and many other territories. The Russian alphabet uses letters from the Cyrillic script and consists of 33 letters. Russians greet acquaintances with kisses on both cheeks, but when meeting someone for the first time, it is custom to shake hands accompanied with a simple nod.


Здравствуйте (Zdra-stvooi-te) can be translated to “hello” or “I hope you are well/healthy.”



Group: Koleda

Zdravo (ZDRAHvoh)


Slovenia is a linguistically diverse country due to its centralized location. The majority of the population speaks Slovenian, which is the official language, but Hungarian and Italian are also very well recognized and considered co-official languages. Immigration from former Yugoslavia makes Croatian and Serbian significant languages as well. Greetings in Slovenia are typically formal and initial greetings are combined with a handshake and a friendly smile. First names are only used by friends and family, others are addressed as titles such as “Gospodenia” (Miss), “Gospa” (Madam), or “Gospod” (Sir).


Zdravo can be translated to “hello” in English.



Group: Performing Art Department of Yung-ping Vocational High School

你好 (Nǐ hǎo)

The official language of Taiwan is Standard Mandarin Chinese as of 1945, following WWII. Before this time, Japanese was the official language of Taiwan. Taiwanese Mandarin is spoken at different levels according to the social class and situation of the speakers. Formal occasions call for the acrolectal level of Standard Chinese (Guoyu), which differs little from the Standard Chinese of the People’s Republic of China. Less formal situations may result in the basilect form, which has more uniquely Taiwanese features. Bilingual Taiwanese speakers may code-switch between Mandarin and Taiwanese, sometimes in the same sentence.


你好 (Nǐ hǎo) can be translated to “hello” in English.



Group: Thunder Bear Drum Group and the Dancers That Shift

ᏏᏲ Siyo (She-yo)

In 1821, a Cherokee scholar named Sequoyah invented a written Cherokee language. In 1828, just 7 years later, a Cherokee language newspaper began publishing, the Cherokee Phoenix, which was also the first published Native American newspaper. The Cherokee syllabary has 85 (originally 86) characters.

ᏏᏲ Siyo (See-yo) can be translated to “hello” in English.



Go to www.folkmoot.org and get your tickets to experience the wonder of international culture through music and dance!


Bonding With Beads

For the 2016 Folkmoot Festival, Lisa Wilnoty, Folkmoot Cherokee Coordinator, designed hand-beaded lanyards for staff and guides. Lisa wanted to create something for the guides and staff and thought these lanyards would be a great gift to symbolize the friendships and unity that Folkmoot brings. The beaded lanyards were such a hit within the Folkmoot community that we have asked her to make more for the 2017 Festival!

Lisa began beading about three years ago when she decided to pursue her passion for traditional 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, Lisa incorporates an array of colors, especially watercolors to be used as a representation for how water gives and sustains life. This year she chose green and white for growth & peace. 

Many of the guides and staff look at these hand-beaded lanyards as a symbol for Folkmoot 2016 and all the wonderful memories from the festival. They all recognize the hard work that Lisa put into making these special gifts, and were humbled and honored to receive them. Some of the individuals who were given these lanyards still use them to hold keys or badges in everyday life as a reminder of the friendships they made during the 2016 Festival.  

Assistant Guide, Gracie Feichter said, “The lanyard represents a sense of unity. 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.”

Guide Thomas Greenarch said, “When I received the lanyard last year at Folkmoot and learned it was hand-made by a Cherokee woman named Lisa, I felt honored as I am also Cherokee. Cherokee people make such amazing art such as pottery, clothes, and bead work that all take patience and skill. Therefore I know, she worked hard on these for all the guides and assistant guides and represented all that Folkmoot represents. I still use my lanyard as a necklace at times and every time I see it, I remember the wonderful experience and fun times we all had at the festival last year.”

Go to www.folkmoot.org and get your tickets to experience the wonder of international culture through music and dance!

Folkmoot Festival 2017: Cherokee Ambassador Day Sponsored by the Cherokee Preservation Foundation

On Tuesday, July 25th, our friends and neighbors, the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, will share with our visiting cultural ambassadors – and the general public – the unique history and fascinating culture of the Cherokee Indians.  

The Cherokee culture and traditions are among the very richest offerings Western Carolina has to share with the world. This event not only gives the international groups the opportunity to explore Cherokee, but it also allows the Cherokee people to travel the world without leaving the Qualla Boundary.

Eight international groups will tour Oconaluftee Indian Village, Museum of the Cherokee Indians, Eastern Band of Cherokee Indian Council House, Qualla Arts and Crafts, and Mingo Falls throughout the day and have a luncheon at the Fairgrounds catered by Nikki’s Frybread.

An all-group performance and cultural exchange will take place at 5 p.m. at Cherokee High School’s Chief Joyce Dungan Cultural Arts Center.

The public is invited to join Folkmoot’s international groups and Cherokee ambassadors for the tour, lunch, and performance. Check-in for tour participants is at 9:30 a.m. at the Museum of the Cherokee Indians, located across from the Qualla Arts and Crafts. Here, tour participants will receive an itinerary that includes a destination schedule, driving instructions, lunch and performance vouchers and parking pass. Transportation is not included. Tickets are $25 for children, $45 for adults, and $40 for seniors. Groups of 20 or more receive a 20% discount. Enrolled Eastern Band are admitted at no charge.

Please contact Folkmoot’s Cherokee Programs Coordinator, Lisa Spring Wilnoty, with questions, 828.452.2997 or lisa@folkmoot.org.

Folkmoot USA, North Carolina’s International Festival, is a two-week celebration of the world’s cultural heritage through folk music and dance. Held each summer throughout the beautiful mountains of Western North Carolina, Folkmoot features performers sharing their culture through colorful, authentic, and original reproduction costumes, lively dance, and traditional music.

In 2017, Folkmoot anticipates hosting musicians and dancers from India, the Netherlands, Slovenia, Argentina, Russia, Israel, Taiwan, a Canadian group representing Welsh dance, a U.S. group representing African dance, Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians performers, as well as several regional bluegrass and clogging groups representing Appalachian culture.

Go to www.folkmoot.org and get your tickets to experience the wonder of international culture through music and dance!

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 more

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 more

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 more

Folkmoot 2016 is here!!

Folkmoot 2016 is here!

Folkmoot 2016 is here! The mountains of Western Carolina are alive with sights, sounds, music, pageantry, colorful costumes and extraordinary folk dancing! Be sure to see the complete schedule and purchase your tickets online here! The Folkmoot Box Office can be reached by phone during business hours: 828-452-2997 , ext. 207. The 33rd Annual Folkmoot … Read more

Say, “hello,” at Folkmoot 2016 in many languages

Say, "hello," at Folkmoot 2016

Say, “hello,” at Folkmoot 2016 in many languages. 你好   Hola   Moi   Bonjour & Salut   こんにちは    Cześć (Tch-esh-ch)     & Hey y’all!   Folkmoot has 9 international groups coming to the festival this year and even though many of the performers speak English, it is not the primary language for most of them. Be sure … Read more

Folkmoot 2016: Tsalagi, the Cherokee People

Folkmoot 2016: Tsalagi, the Cherokee People

No Folkmoot Festival would be complete without our own regional contribution and, so, for Folkmoot 2016: Tsalagi, the Cherokee People. As they have for many years of the three decades of Folkmoot Festivals, our friends and neighbors from just over the mountain will be an integral part of festival performances, sharing with our international visitors … Read more