MARCH 28, 2012


Born on May 13, 1918, in the Big Cove community, Qualla Boundary Reservation in North Carolina, Walker learned songs, dances, and Cherokee religious practices from his uncle, Will West Long.  After Long died in 1947, Calhoun began teaching ceremonial dances to the next generation.  In the 1980s, he formed a family group, the Raven Rock Dancers and, in 1988, brought back the stomp dance as a sacred ceremony for the Eastern Cherokee.  A respected elder, he helped maintain and pass on tribal traditions.  Walker demonstrated how to make the Cherokee blowgun from river cane & darts from wild thistle.  He also played old-time Southern Appalachian style banjo tunes.  Walter received the Sequoyah Award in 1988 at the 150th anniversary of the Trail of Tears.  In 1990, he received the North Carolina Folk Heritage Award, and in 1992 a National Folk Heritage Award from the National Endowment for the Arts.  Two recordings of his songs are: Where Ravens Roost and Sacred Songs from Medicine Lake.  

Source:  “Walter Calhoun,” Blue Ridge National Heritage Area, National Park Service.  Retrieved 11/25/2020, Walker Calhoun – Blue Ridge National Heritage Area (
Photo:  Blue Ridge National Heritage Area, National Park Service, undated.  Public Domain.  

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