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  • Lani Hansen

69th Annual UKB Celebration Presents: "Keetoowah Resurgence"

Updated: Oct 1, 2019



TAHLEQUAH – The United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians in Oklahoma administration invites both its tribal members and members of the public to partake in our 69th Annual "Keetoowah Resurgence" Celebration activities to be held Oct. 4-5 in Tahlequah.

“We’ve gone through a couple different edits of Celebration’s theme this year,” said Executive Assistant to the Chief Travis Wolfe. “Our first initial theme we decided on early in the year was ‘Resurgence.’ As we went along, it seemed like we were questioning it a little, like ‘exactly what are we resurging from?’ Now our historical land in trust win reaffirms the ‘Resurgence’ theme. This is a reason to celebrate. It is more important than ever for all Keetoowahs and Keetoowah advocates to come together and make this celebration something grand.”

Celebration's history stems from a vote that took place on October 3, 1950.

The vote was to approve the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians constitution and bylaws as they had been submitted on May 8, 1950 to the Assistant Secretary of the Interior William E. Warne.

The seven-page document begins by reading: “We the members of the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians in Oklahoma, in order to promote our common welfare and to secure to ourselves and our posterity the rights, powers and privileges authorized and offered by thte Oklahoma Indian Welfare Act of June 26, 1936 and the Act of August 10, 1946, do hereby ordain and establish the following constitution and bylaws.”

The vote, which required at least 30 percent of eligible Keetoowah voters to cast their ballots, ended with 1,414 in favor and one against.

Its approval cemented the constitution and bylaws of the United Keetoowah Band, which has now been the foundation of the tribe for 69 years.

To celebrate the historic occasion, Celebration has been held each year during the first weekend in October.

Wolfe said Celebration has been and will always be about the people.

“Without the people, we are not Giduwa,” he said. “All of our different Keetoowah bands came together and became united and this is what solidifies our existence as a people, this one particular day a year we call 'Celebration.' I encourage everyone to come out, not just Keetoowahs. If you’re Creek, if you’re Kiowa, even if you’re Cherokee Nation. Our families live in the same households and we would be honored to have your love and support.”

Keetoowahs and the public are encouraged to take pictures and video at the event and either tag UKB Media on Instagram or use the hashtag #KeetoowahResurgence on any social media platform.



Chief’s Dinner (Invitation Only) 5:30 p.m. - Elder Center

UKB Chief Joe Bunch

will host an invitation only dinner for various dignitaries and UKB partners. The event is meant to promote our strengthen our relationships with those in the community.

Softball Tournament 7 p.m. - October 4-6 Sequoyah Ball Fields

This year’s softball tournament will have men and women’s divisions, as well as a 7-3 coed slowpitch division. The tournament is a 15-man roster. Prizes for 1st place are hoodies, 2nd place receives longsleeve t-shirts and 3rd place receives t-shirts. Entry fee is $150. Deadline to enter is 9/27 at 9 p.m. Questions can be directed to Jeff Wacoche at 918-822-2191 or by email to jwacoche@ukb- Money is due at time of entry. Cash or money order can be mailed to P.O. Box 746 Tahlequah, OK 74465. Please address to UKB Tribal Council, Attn: Jeff Wacoche.

Stomp Dance 7 p.m. - Keetoowah Stomp Grounds

The 69th Annual Celebration festivities are not complete without our annual Stomp Dance at the Keetoowah Stomp Grounds near the UKB Wellness Center. Keetoowahs are traditionally a stomp dance culture and dance to cleanse their bodies and practice good medicine. This event will be more of a social event giving the public, our tribal members and the invited ceremonial grounds an opportunity to come together for an evening of cultural fellowship. Dancing will begin at 8 p.m. and go to midnight. A free chili dinner at the stomp grounds will be provided prior to the event at 7 p.m. while food lasts.


Children’s Fishing Derby 8:30 a.m. - Keetoowah Pond

The Children’s Fishing Derby will be for children ages 14 and under. It is a bring your own fishing pole event and prizes will be awarded for first, second and third place.

Official Welcome 9:30 a.m. - Pavilion

An official welcome to the celebration activities will be given by M.C. Ronnie Livers. During the introduction John Hair Cultural Center and Museum Director Ernestine Berry will also give a presentation on the history of the Keetoowah people and the significance of Celebration itself.

Food and Vendors 10 a.m. - 7 p.m. Please refer to map for designated areas.

Various vendors selling their wares and food will be on hand for the duration of the day. Please stop in to see them and maybe find something new!

Gospel Singing 10 a.m. - Pavilion

Songs of Praise will provide live entertainment with an array of religious songs for Celebration goers.

Tournament Registration 10 a.m. - Celebration opening

Registration will take place near the opening of the grounds for the volleyball and horseshoe tournaments. Volleyball registration is $70 per team, with 12 teams maximum. Winner takes half the pot. Horseshoe registration for singles is $5, while teams are $10. Winners will take half the pot.

Tournaments begin 11 a.m. - Designated areas

Both the volleyball and horseshoe tournaments will start at 11 a.m. Please refer to the map.

Cornstalk Shoot *tentative 11 a.m. - Please refer to map.

The cornstalk shoot is a traditional game once played between Keetoowah hunters and warriors to improve bow and arrow accuracy when hunting. To protect their arrows, Keetoowahs would shoot their arrows into bales of dried cornstalk.

HLDCDC Children’s Activities 11 a.m. - 4 p.m. - CDC

The Henry Lee Double- head Child Development Center will offer children a variety of

activities throughout the day including turtle races, face painting and bouncy houses. Food will also be provided.

State of the Band 12 p.m. - Pavilion

An official welcome to the celebration activities will be given by former Miss Keetoowah and M.C. Victoria Proctor. UKB Chief Joe Bunch will also give his annual address about the state of the Keetoowah band and thank our partners for their sponsorship. The theme of “Keetoowah Resurgence” will also be discussed.

Free Feed 1 p.m. - Pavilion

The UKB employees and volunteers will come together at 1 p.m. to help distribute the free feed. The meal will consist of a plate of hog meat, fry bread, potatoes and beans for the community.

Stickball Exhibition 2 p.m. - UKB stickball field

Stickball is known amongst Keetoowahs as “the little brother of war.” Played in ancient times and carried on into today, the game of stick- ball was used once to settle disputes. This event will feature red and black teams, with the host team being the Nighthawks.

Social Stickball 3 p.m. - UKB Stickball Field

This social stickball game provides anyone interested the opportunity to take the field in a more relaxed setting where players will use sticks to hit a fish located on top of a pole. Women are al- lowed to use their hands. Players do play at their own risk and some sticks will be provided.

Full Blood Entertainment 5 p.m. - Pavilion

Our partner Full Blood Entertainment will be bringing with them a variety of live acts for Celebration including Rod Robertson and Mike Bone. Additional entertainment is expected as the date draws near.

50 & Over Legends Game 7 p.m. - Sequoyah Ball Fields

As part of this year’s softball tournament, a Legends Game will be held for those 50 and older. There is no entry fee, though those wishing to participate must submit their name to the player’s list by contacting Jeff Wacoche at 918-822-2191 or email




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