The Raven Rock Dancers were founded by Cherokee elder Walker Calhoun, a widely admired tradition bearer who dedicated his life to the preservation of the Cherokee people’s heritage. Calhoun was born in 1918, and he grew up in the Big Cove community of the Qualla Boundary, an area rich in Cherokee artistic, linguistic, and spiritual heritage. As a boy, he spent much time with his uncle Will West Long, himself a dedicated tradition bearer who knew many of the old songs and dances, both spiritual and social, of the Cherokee people.
In the 1980s, Walker Calhoun formed the Raven Rock Dancers, a family dance group who performed and taught ceremonial dances. The Calhoun family was especially vital to the resurgence of the stomp dance as a part of Cherokee spiritual practices. Though Walker Calhoun passed away in 2012, at the age of 93, his family carries on their dance traditions.
The Raven Rock Dancers perform and teach at cultural events in Western North Carolina and beyond. The group is multigenerational, including family members from young people to elders. Though stomp dancing is part of Cherokee spirituality and therefore private to the community, the Raven Rock Dancers share social dances with all audiences, demonstrating and teaching such traditions as the bear dance, beaver dance, quail dance, and booger dance.
The Raven Rock Dancers will consider requests for performances, demonstrations, and workshops. An early album by Walker Calhoun, Sacred Songs of Medicine Lake, is available for download on iTunes.