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Eastern Band of Cherokee hosting event to honor Long Man cultural tradition

Lilly Knoepp
Oconaluftee Island Park is in downtown Cherokee on the Qualla Boundary.

The Eastern Band of Cherokee will host two river clean-ups Wednesday to honor their connection to the water. Juanita Wilson is manager of training and development for the Eastern Band. She explains that honoring Long Man is a traditionally Cherokee way to talk about rivers.  


“The way we would describe Long Man [in Cherokee] Gunahita Asgaya is his head lay in the mountains and his feet are in the sea. He was a river spirit. It’s more than just a clean-up it’s a reconnecting to who we are and what is dear to us,” said Wilson.  “My goal of this whole thing is to reawaken our commitment to our culture.”  


The cleanups run 8 to 1 tomorrow at both the Cherokee Fairgrounds and the Snowbird Community Center. Breakfast and a cultural presentation will take place at both by North American Indian Women's Association and Blessings of the River.   


The event is organized by EBCI Natural Resources Department and Nikwasi Initiative.  


Lilly Knoepp is Senior Regional Reporter for Blue Ridge Public Radio. She has served as BPR’s first fulltime reporter covering Western North Carolina since 2018. She is from Franklin, NC. She returns to WNC after serving as the assistant editor of Women@Forbes and digital producer of the Forbes podcast network. She holds a master’s degree in international journalism from the City University of New York and earned a double major from UNC-Chapel Hill in religious studies and political science.