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Ned Long Day
~ David Kitchen
The last Wednesday of October is Ned Long Day.
A day when Cherokee elders are honored.
When my wife Sharon and I were younger folks, we
had a true friend and elder in Ned Long. He would
come to our home in North Georgia to visit. And we would go to his in the Eastern Band of Cherokee in North Carolina. He was a great teacher and elder.
Once we went up to help Ned and several of the Eastern Band protect a site sacred to the Cherokee where ancestors were buried. A company was digging the ancestors up and putting them in bags with great disrespect and destroying the ancient site and the ancestors. A lady from somewhere outside the Nation and her group came to help. Without asking any Cherokee with authority she set up a lodge said she was going to pray. Ned asked us to go with him to see her. The lady saw us coming and invited us into her lodge. Instead of reaming her out for her rudeness to the Cherokee, Ned went in politely. She started to do a prayer ceremony and the prayers were all wrong. And the pipe would not light for her. So Ned politely asked if he could hold the pipe. The lady handed it to him. Ned did the proper prayer and ceremony right there for her to learn and the pipe lit immediately. Then he did the entire prayer and cleansing ceremony for the ancestors in the right way. Then he politely told the lady that the Cherokee had already prayed for the displaced ancestors and the site, and thanked her for her support. She took down her lodge and left with a smile on her face. He made a new friend and supporter without offending her.
He was also helping Sharon to find her family that the government had taken her from as a child in the 1950s assimilation program that took many Indigenous kids from many Nations. But Ned passed away before Sharon found her family. I was never so heart broken at losing someone who was more like family to me than just a friend. He taught us so much about dealing with people and situations and Cherokee teachings that I just had to write a song about this great man to help me cope with his passing. His ancestor was Will West Long who translated many books (including the Bible) into Cherokee.
I still miss him. The hurt is in the back of my mind now. But it is still there.
Elders honored on Ned Long Day | The Cherokee One Feather
For 17 years, the Junaluska Leadership Council (JLC) has honored EBCI tribal elders on the last Wednesday of October in honor of late Snowbird Community leader Ned ...