Heritage Shared

Heritage Shared

There is no word in the Cherokee language for “goodbye,” says American Indian flutist Tommy Wildcat. Instead, his people say “donadagohv’i” — “we’ll see you again.”

That’s the title of Wildcat’s new CD, which he’ll celebrate at a concert Nov. 18 as part of the Native Conversations Series at the Museum of Native American History in Bentonville.

Wildcat, who lives south of Tahlequah, Okla., says being Cherokee has always been not just in his blood but in his day-to-day life. Raised between Braggs and Gore, Okla., near Lake Tenkiller, he grew up on his grandmother’s Cherokee “allotment” — the land ceded to Native Americans as part of their relocation to Indian Territory in Oklahoma.

“My father and mother raised us in the traditions of our language and our heritage,” he says.

In fact, Wildcat’s father, the late Tom Webber Wildcat, was designated a Cherokee National Treasure in 1995 for his skill in making turtle shell shakers, and Tommy followed in his footsteps, honored in 2013.

Over all the years and places he’s played music, Wildcat says — including four tours to Europe and concerts in most of the 50 states — the majority of his audiences have been Caucasian. He sees that as an opportunity.

“They hear how our language is spoken, stories and songs of our heritage and how people maintain our traditions,” he says. “I always see a great desire for understanding.”

— Becca Martin-Brown



Tommy Wildcat

WHEN — 6:30 p.m. Nov. 18

WHERE — Museum of Native American History in Bentonville

COST — Free

INFO — 273-2456

BONUS — Wildcat’s new CD will be for sale.

Categories: Music