Published On: Wed, Oct 29th, 2014

Elders honored on Ned Long Day

Four Cherokee elders were given the Distinguished Citizen Award on Wednesday, Oct. 29 at the 16th Annual Ned Long Day held at the Cherokee Youth Center including: EBCI Beloved Woman Myrtle Driver, Tom Belt, Ida Elliot and Lucy Bigmeat. Shown (left-right) front row - Little Miss Cherokee Jenna Cruz, Bigmeat, and Painttown Rep. Tommye Saunooke; middle row - Miss Cherokee Taylor Wilnoty, Driver, Belt, Elliot, Tagan Crowe who received the Kristyn Jones Youth Leadership Award, and Cherokee County - Snowbird Rep. Adam Wachaha; back row - Yellowhill Rep. B. Ensley.  (SCOTT MCKIE B.P./One Feather photos)

Four Cherokee elders were given the Distinguished Citizen Award on Wednesday, Oct. 29 at the 16th Annual Ned Long Day held at the Cherokee Youth Center including: EBCI Beloved Woman Myrtle Driver, Tom Belt, Ida Elliot and Lucy Bigmeat. Shown (left-right) front row – Little Miss Cherokee Jenna Cruz, Bigmeat, and Painttown Rep. Tommye Saunooke; middle row – Miss Cherokee Taylor Wilnoty, Driver, Belt, Elliot, Tagan Crowe who received the Kristyn Jones Youth Leadership Award, and Cherokee County – Snowbird Rep. Adam Wachaha; back row – Yellowhill Rep. B. Ensley. (SCOTT MCKIE B.P./One Feather photos)

 

By SCOTT MCKIE B.P.

ONE FEATHER STAFF

 

Four Cherokee elders were honored during a day named in honor of a late Snowbird leader.  EBCI Beloved Woman Myrtle Driver, Tom Belt, Ida Elliot and Lucy Bigmeat all received the Distinguished Citizen Award from members of the Junaluska Leadership Council during the 16th Annual Ned Long Day held at the Cherokee Youth Center on Wednesday, Oct. 29.

Driver, named a Beloved Woman of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians several years ago, is a fluent Cherokee speaker who has dedicated many years of her life to language preservation.  She has translated several books, including the popular children’s book Charlotte’s Web, into the Cherokee language.

As she was honored on Wednesday, she thanked the many people who helped her through foster care as a child.  “If there’s any good about me, it’s from them.”

Cherokee High School student Taylor Nelson (left), Junaluska Leadership Council vice chairperson, presents the Distinguished Citizen Award to Tom Belt.

Cherokee High School student Taylor Nelson (left), Junaluska Leadership Council vice chairperson, presents the Distinguished Citizen Award to Tom Belt.

Driver recognized Amy Thompson during the event and said she is a “beautiful lady who took me in” and treated her like family.

Members of the Junaluska Leadership Council interviewed each elder prior to Wednesday’s event, and Driver told the students who interviewed her, “Be at peace with yourself and anyone.”

Belt, a Cherokee Nation citizen originally from Oklahoma, is also a fluent Cherokee speaker.  He is the Western Carolina University Cherokee Language Program coordinator and enjoys reading and writing in the Cherokee syllabary.

He told the students, “Get the best education you can and go as far as you can.”

Elliot, an avid bird watcher, was a long-time bank employee in the Bryson City area.  She related to the students, “Think about any decision that you make and make sure it is the right one because it will affect you for the rest of your life.”

EBCI Beloved Woman Myrtle Driver (right) recognized Amy Thompson during Wednesday’s event for her contributions to Driver’s childhood and life since.

EBCI Beloved Woman Myrtle Driver (right) recognized Amy Thompson during Wednesday’s event for her contributions to Driver’s childhood and life since.

Bigmeat, an avid bowler, is known for taking care of the ill and sick in her Painttown Community.  She encouraged the youth to avoid the perils of drugs and asks for more education geared towards young people on the subject.

The Kristyn Jones Youth Leadership Award was given to Tagan Crowe during Wednesday’s event.  Crowe was on the Junaluska Leadership Council all four of his high school years and served as Vice Chairman and Chairman during his stint.

Kate Cooper, Junaluska Leadership Council, commented as she presented the award to Crowe, “Tagan sets an example of how all EBCI youth should serve their community.  He demonstrates a passion for tribal leadership.”

The Cherokee High School JROTC Color Guard presented the colors to open the program followed by the Cherokee High School Cherokee Language Class reciting the Pledge of Allegiance and singing “America the Beautiful” in the Cherokee language.

To view and purchase photos from this event, visit http://onefeather.smugmug.com/2014-Community-and-News-Events/16th-Annual-Ned-Long-Day-10-29/

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