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Art act in effect at holiday

BY TRAVIS SNELL
Assistant Editor – @cp_tsnell
09/18/2008 10:23 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – This Cherokee National Holiday, anyone marketing themselves as Indians and operating vendor booths on Cherokee Nation property must be able to prove citizenship in a federally recognized tribe or face expulsion.

The tough measure stems from the tribe’s Truth in Advertising for Native Art Act, which Tribal Councilors passed and Principal Chief Chad Smith signed in January.

“We sent all of our arts and crafts vendors a copy of the Truth in Advertising for Native Art Act along with an arts and crafts contract,” Lou Slagle, holiday coordinator, said. “I’ll be making up some sort of license or verification (showing) that this vendor is an authorized Native American vendor.”

He said his staff would check booths to ensure that the act is followed and that if a vendor is caught misleading or deceiving customers, the vendor would be escorted off CN property by CN marshals and banned.

Despite the tough penalty, the act isn’t designed to stop non-Indians from operating holiday booths, but to stop them from claiming to be Indians.

“Any vendor can go out there. It’s just the difference between this vendor being certified as a tribal member versus someone who is just selling stuff,” Tonia Williams, CN Web manager and member of the tribe’s Fraudulent Indian Tribes Team, said. “As a Cherokee, as a federally recognized tribal citizen, you should be able to be certified as a federally recognized tribal citizen instead of just coming in and claiming to be Indian.”

FITT members said they initiated the act after seeing non-Indians using Web sites, buying memberships into state-recognized tribes or other so-called Indian groups and calling or associating themselves with Indian cultures – primarily through art – to legitimize themselves as Indians.

Cara Cowan Watts, Dist. 7 Tribal Councilor and FITT member, said many non-Indians use “fake identities” to sell art, fabricate culture and legitimize themselves as Indians.

Williams said FITT members don’t know how much money has been spent on non-Indian art over legitimate Indian art during the years but “for every dollar they (non-Indians) receive, it’s a dollar that doesn’t go to a real Native American.”

Theact’s main purpose is to foster authentic Indian art and combat non-Indians selling art as Indian art by defining an Indian as a federally recognized tribal citizen. Cowan Watts said the limited definition makes the CN act stronger than the U.S. Indian Arts and Crafts Act, which includes state-recognized tribal citizens.

She said the tribe’s act also expands the definition of art. It states that art is “an object or action that is made with the intention of stimulating the human senses as well as the human mind/and or spirit regardless of any functional uses,” including crafts, handmade items, traditional storytelling, contemporary art or techniques, oral histories, other performing arts and printed materials.

“It is to clarify any art, performing art, physical art or written art that you have to be a federally recognized tribal citizen if you are claiming that those things are Indian or Native American,” Cowan Watts said. “That’s different from the federal Indian Arts and Crafts Act in that it is more inclusive of all art forms. And it limits it to federally recognized tribal citizens because we believe that so-called state recognized tribes are illegitimate.”

FITT coordinator Julie Ross said the federal law allows non-Indians to market themselves as Indians because all they have to do is join a state-recognized tribe, which usually requires an enrollment fee.

“Because the federal act recognizes state-recognized tribes, it is meaningless,” Ross said.
CN’s act also establishes guidelines for the purchase, promotion and sale of genuine Native American arts and crafts within its jurisdiction and by its entities. That includes CN government offices, Cherokee Nation Businesses, Cherokee Nation Enterprises, Cherokee Nation Industries, the Housing Authority of the Cherokee Nation and any component and entity the CN is a sole or majority stockholder or owner.

For example, if non-Indian vendors sell items while claiming to be Indians on Cherokee Heritage Center grounds and go unpunished, the CHC could lose its CN funding.
“This is still all in process,” Williams said. “We don’t know what really is going to happen, but we hope that we at least start a trend.”

Cowan Watts said the act’s enforcement at holidays should bring back Cherokee artists who have been pushed out by non-Indians.

“What we find is, too frequently, it’s real easy for these folks who aren’t Cherokee to scream and yell louder than our real Cherokees,” she said. “If these non-Indian people spend their entire day playing Indian while all our real tribal citizens have regular jobs, then it’s much easier for all these people buying and selling to be attracted to these non-Indians. This will be the first holiday that the act has an effect on, so I expect that to encourage our traditional folks to return.”

The act also states the CN shall not knowingly offer for sale art produced by individuals who falsely claim, imply or suggest they are Indian and will not host, sponsor, fund or otherwise devote or contribute resources to exhibits showing artists who falsely claim, imply or suggest they are Indian.

“So we if find the Five Civilized Tribes Museum (in Muskogee, Okla.) is including known wannabes, not just state recognized…but people who are not part of a state-recognized tribe and are truly just claiming to be Indian in an art show over our federally recognized tribal citizens we could pull the money,” Cowan Watts said. “Our belief is that the Five Tribes Museum is supposed to serve the Five Civilized Tribes.”

Roger Cain, a Cherokee citizen and artist from Stilwell, Okla., said he and his wife Shawna support the act and see it as honoring their Cherokee ancestors.

“To me, if they are federally recognized they are the ones with the ancestors who stood up and said ‘I’m Cherokee; I’m Keetoowah,’ from the very beginning. We have to honor our ancestors who did this,” he said. “I got friends who are mad about it and were from the very beginning. I feel bad for them, but I tell them that I’m honoring my ancestors.”

Cain said although he supports the act, he thinks state-recognized tribal citizens have the right to make art but should have separate categories at art shows.

“If a person is buying Native art, they should know that the artist still lives in the community, still works with the Indian community and practices within the Indian community and is federally recognized,” he said. “We want to make a different category for the state-recognized tribes so they can show their stuff and aren’t competing with us.”

He does, however, want the law to impact people who know nothing about Indians or Indian culture yet tell people they are Indian.

“I want this law to impact those guys,” he said. “That’s what this law is about, catching those guys. If I’m out here in the woods gathering what I need to make my art piece, and then somebody in a big city who all of a sudden realizes they are Indian because of an old family photo can order stuff off the Internet and make their piece, it makes me say, ‘hey, I’m out here living the Cherokee culture by gathering my materials and you’re living where the Cherokees got moved away from.’ That is what the act is about – reinforcing real Cherokees and real Indians.”

FITT members said along with the holiday booths and CHC gift shop, the act has also affected CNE’s art markets and gifts shops by ensuring each item sold under the Indian art label is made by federally recognized tribal citizens.

“The entities have cleaned up a lot of the stuff they had,” Williams said. “We’ve had everything from stuff made in China to artists’ works and things like that. They have cleaned up to where they aren’t presenting non-Indians’ works, especially books. If you are saying that you are Cherokee in the book, and you’re not, then don’t say it.”

Cowan Watts said books not written by “federally recognized tribal citizens are supposed to be migrated out or there’s going to be a sticker on them saying they are not Cherokee or Indians.”

One writer she cites is author Robert J. Conley, whose books include Cherokee history-based fictions, as well as the non-fiction works “A Cherokee Encyclopedia” and “The Cherokee Nation: A History,” which the CN commissioned him to write.

Cowan Watts said Conley is only an associate member of the United Keetoowah Band and can’t trace any Cherokee heritage.

Conley, who disagrees with the act, said he traces his Cherokee lineage to the Dawes Rolls via his grandmother, Myrtle E. Parris, who is listed on the final rolls.

“If I’m not a Cherokee, it’s interesting that the Cherokee Nation registered me initially and the UKB later enrolled me,” he said. “My grandmother is one of the original (Dawes Rolls) enrollees. If Cara Cowan and her cohorts have nothing better to do than be Cherokee blood police, then they need to find some kind of lives for themselves.”

According to the UKB Office of Enrollment, Conley is an inactive member.

“In tribal enrollment terms his file is labeled ‘inactive’ because there is no record of a relinquishment letter (of CN citizenship) or a CDIB (Certificate Degree of Indian Blood) for Mr. Conley,” Sammy Still, UKB media coordinator, wrote in an e-mail. “In regards to whether Mr. Conley would be able to become a member of the United Keetoowah Band, this would depend on what degree of blood he is by providing the tribe with a CDIB.”

Conley said there was no relinquishment letter because he wasn’t a CN citizen when he enrolled in the UKB and that he doesn’t have a CDIB because he doesn’t want one.

Another aspect of the act allows the CN Tribal Employment Rights Office to certify a list of federally recognized tribal citizens as artists. Artists who register on the list would do so voluntarily, which Cowan Watts encourages.

“I get calls from Tulsa corporations or from all over the United States…and they want to buy gifts or something like that,” she said. “That way there’s a list I can send that is much more fair and equitable and we know it’s legitimate.”

Cowan Watts said the act should also help with the tribe’s cultural tourism by ensuring that tourists meet authentic Cherokees and Cherokee artists.

“We also felt that it was important to get ahead on this for the cultural truth,” she said. “It’s an economic development tool, and it’s important that we have all this in place before cultural tourism develops. We don’t want Japanese and German tourists coming in and buying from these known wannabes. We want them buying from our community members…not from who has the biggest turkey feathers.”
About the Author
Travis Snell has worked for the Cherokee Phoenix since 2000. He began as a staff writer, a position that allowed him to win numerous writing awards from the Native American Journalists Association, including the Richard LaCourse Award for best investigative story in 2003. He was promoted to assistant editor in 2007, switching his focus from writing to story development, editing, design and other duties.

He is a member of NAJA, as well as the Society of Professional Journalists, Investigative Reporters and Editors, and Society for News Design.

Travis earned his journalism degree with a print emphasis in 1999 from Oklahoma City University. While at OCU, he served as editor, assistant editor and sports reporter for the school’s newspaper.

He is married to Native Oklahoma publisher Lisa Snell. The couple has two children, Sadie and Swimmer. He is the grandson of original enrollee Swimmer Wesley Snell and Patricia Ann (Roberts) Snell.
TRAVIS-SNELL@cherokee.org • 918-453-5358
Travis Snell has worked for the Cherokee Phoenix since 2000. He began as a staff writer, a position that allowed him to win numerous writing awards from the Native American Journalists Association, including the Richard LaCourse Award for best investigative story in 2003. He was promoted to assistant editor in 2007, switching his focus from writing to story development, editing, design and other duties. He is a member of NAJA, as well as the Society of Professional Journalists, Investigative Reporters and Editors, and Society for News Design. Travis earned his journalism degree with a print emphasis in 1999 from Oklahoma City University. While at OCU, he served as editor, assistant editor and sports reporter for the school’s newspaper. He is married to Native Oklahoma publisher Lisa Snell. The couple has two children, Sadie and Swimmer. He is the grandson of original enrollee Swimmer Wesley Snell and Patricia Ann (Roberts) Snell.

Culture

BY WILL CHAVEZ
Assistant Editor – @cp_wchavez
06/20/2018 04:00 PM
WAYNESVILLE, Mo. – Autumn Lawless trained for the challenges she faced on June 15 as she fought the heat and hills of the Ozarks in south-central Missouri. The 21-year-old from Porum, Oklahoma, said the training the 10 Cherokee Nation “Remember the Removal” cyclists endured from January to May prepared them for the rigors of riding for three weeks through seven states. “Training was hard, but it was hard for a reason. We were all ready, and we’ve made it this far because of our training,” she said. She said through the “RTR” program, which started in 1984 for youth leadership, she’s gained more courage and knows “she can do anything.” “I saw a lot of our riders and how this ride changed them and how strong they were. They were more confident, they were better leaders, and I wanted to be a better leader. I know I can push myself...now. This ride has given me perseverance,” Lawless said. “The ride isn’t just what you see in videos. It’s not just people cheering you on and clapping for you. It’s the time you spend with your teammates on the road motivating each other to get up another hill or just checking on each other. It really is a family, and there’s a lot of behind-the-scenes work that goes into this ride.” Ahli-sha Stephens, 34, of Cherokee, North Carolina, said the main reason she wanted to ride was to experience some of the hardships her ancestors endured and “to be able to go where they had been and walk where they walked.” “It’s something you can tell someone about and they won’t understand it unless they’ve been there and felt it for themselves,” she said. Walking the now-preserved trails that Cherokee people walked 180 years ago was especially moving for her, she said. “It’s humbling knowing you walked where they walked, and you’re walking in their footsteps and are seeing things that they saw. It wasn’t easy, and I can’t imagine doing it the way they did it day after day.” Stephens added that riding the trail with other Cherokees created a bond that gets stronger daily. “We rely on each other. We help each other, and we’re there for each other. I think if we didn’t have each other’s backs, it would make this journey a whole lot harder.” Stephens said she’s also learned to be more patient and wants to use her abilities to help others and to “lead, listen and be a team player.” “Overall, I think I will be more knowledgeable about who our people were, what they did and what they went through, what they faced. I think I will just be a better person all around,” she said. Daulton Cochran, 21, of Bell, Oklahoma, said he wanted to ride to “connect” with his tribe better. “I had a lot of friends who did the ride, and it seemed like it changed a lot of people afterwards, and I craved that, I guess,” he said. Because of the constant strain of riding for two weeks, he said he couldn’t recall the exact spot that moved him the most, but it was a place in Tennessee where his Cherokee ancestors camped. “I guess it was the idea of campsites really being gravesites. It really gets to you to see stuff like that,” he said. He added that he’s appreciated taking on the riding challenge with his teammates. “The fellowship has been great. We all connect. We all hang out. It’s just a good thing. We’re a family now.” Seth Ledford, 18, of Cherokee North Carolina, said he saw how the ride was a “life-changing” experience for others and wanted to experience it. “It is a once-in-lifetime experience, and it will change you for the better. That’s what I heard about the ride,” he said. “So far the ride has been good. It has been tough at times, and emotional and physical. We’ve had a lot of tough times, but we make up and still like each other.” He said he would take away leadership skills and bonds he’s developed with fellow riders. He also has learned to work within a team. “When I wrestle (in high school) I’m by myself in everything. This is really helping me with my teamwork.”
BY STAFF REPORTS
06/14/2018 08:30 AM
FORT SMITH, Ark. – Cherokee artist Daniel HorseChief is designing the Lighthorse Monument for the U.S. Marshals Museum in Fort Smith after being selected by the Five Tribes InterTribal Council. HorseChief’s life-size bronze statue will reflect a Native law enforcement officer of the post-Civil War era patrolling Indian Territory. His attire will include a Native-designed hunting jacket and the base of the statue traditional Southeast Indian designs to honor the ancestral homelands of the Five Tribes that consist of the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Muscogee (Creek) and Seminole, prior to forced removal. The tribes referred to their law enforcement entities as lighthorsemen. Formed in some of the tribes as early as the late 18th century, the law enforcement companies remain on duty today under the title of marshals. “This design truly honors our Native law enforcement who historically and today serve as protectors of our tribal people and land,” Principal Chief Bill John Baker, who also serves as president of the Five Tribes InterTribal Council, said. “This monument is to honor the dedication and sacrifice of Choctaw, Chickasaw, Cherokee, Muscogee (Creek) and Seminole lawmen and Indian U.S. Marshals who worked tirelessly to bring peace and order to Indian Territory and its borders.” Leaders of the Five Tribes selected HorseChief’s design during this past April’s InterTribal Council gathering. It was presented on June 4 to the U.S. Marshals Museum board. HorseChief, of Sallisaw, Oklahoma, also designed statues for Sequoyah High School, Northeastern State University, the Cherokee Heritage Center and the Cherokee Nation Veterans Center in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. The Lighthorse Monument will be set at the center of a 40-foot square plaza outside the museum. A completion date has not been announced. “The United States Marshals Museum is honored to be the home of the Five Civilized Tribes Lighthorse monument,” Dr. R. Cole Goodman, chairman of the U.S. Marshals Museum board of directors, said. “Sculptor Daniel HorseChief’s ability to bring to life such beauty and movement in honoring the history of tribal law enforcement and their connectivity to the U.S. Marshals will enhance the museum’s guest experience. This is also an opportunity to showcase an understanding of the importance of the history of this city, this region and our country.” The U.S. Marshals Museum is slated to open in late 2019 and will highlight the 225-year history and achievements of America’s oldest federal law enforcement agency, from their creation in 1789 to the present.
BY STAFF REPORTS
06/11/2018 12:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH – The Cherokee Speakers Bureau will be held Thursday June 14 from 12:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. We will meet in the Community Ballroom that is located behind the Restaurant of the Cherokee. All Cherokee speakers are invited to attend. If you want to bring a side dish or a dessert, feel free to bring it. Come speak Cherokee and enjoy food and fellowship. For further information about the event, please contact the Language Program at 918-453-5151. Tsalagi aniwonisgi unadatlugv dodvnatlosi Nvgineiga Dehaluyi 14 ganvsulvi 12:30 p.m. adalenisgi 4 p.m. igohida. Na Anitsalagi tsunalisdayetiyi tsigotlv unaditli wayvsdi onadilvyvi utani kanvsula dodvnatlosi. Naniv Anitsalagi aniwonisgi otsitayohiha uniluhisdii. Alisdayvdi ayohisdi yodulia. Dodayotsadatlisani ale dodayotsalisdayvna hilutsvi. Ugodesdi tsadulihesdi tsadelayohisdi hiina wigehiyadvdi Tsalagi Gawonihisdi Unadotlvsv 918-453-5151.
BY STAFF REPORTS
06/08/2018 05:15 PM
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – The Sequoyah National Research Center is offering the 2018 Sequoyah Chapbook Award for emerging American Indian and Alaska Native poets, with the winner receiving 250 copies of the chapbook that will be archived in the Center’s Tribal Writers Digital Library. The award is open to any enrolled citizen of a federally recognized tribe in the United States. Poetry manuscripts should be 20 to 36 pages in length and may be submitted in hard copy or digitally. Hard copy manuscript should be single-spaced, one poem per page, paginated, with a table of contents and bound with a binder clip. Digital submissions should be single-spaced, one poem per page (start each poem on a new page). Individual poems may have been published previously in a journal or magazine, but we will not accept work that has appeared as a whole (self-published or otherwise). A cover letter should include a short bio and identify the writer’s tribal affiliation along with name, mailing address, email and phone number. Those submitting paper copy should include a self-addressed stamped envelope for confirmation of receipt of the manuscript. Manuscripts will not be returned. Mail hard copy submissions to H.K. Hummel, Department of English, 501 Stabler Hall, University of Arkansas at Little Rock, 2801 South University Avenue, Little Rock, AR 72204. Manuscripts in hard copy must be postmarked by Sept. 1. Electronic submissions should reach the editor by noon, Central Standard Time, on Sept. 1. Digital submissions and questions regarding contest should be sent to <a href="mailto: dflittlefiel@ualr.edu">dflittlefiel@ualr.edu</a> and <a href="mailto: mevanslooten@ualr.edu">mevanslooten@ualr.edu</a>. The collections of the University of Arkansas at Little Rock Sequoyah National Research Center constitute the largest assemblage of Native American and Native Alaskan expression in the world. Its mission is to acquire and preserve the writings and ideas of Native North Americans.
BY STAFF REPORTS
06/07/2018 12:00 PM
CLAREMORE – An “Enhanced Tour” of Will Rogers Memorial Museums is bringing a new level of information to people visiting the memorial in Claremore and the Oologah Birthplace Ranch. The voice of Michael Wallis, author of “Rt. 66 – the Mother Road” and voice of the Sheriff in Disney Pixar movie “Cars,” narrates a tour of the museum starting in the west gallery through the final journey of the American cowboy philosopher. Using an electronic device, areas in both museums are marked with “Stop” numbers to provide audio information, images and other content. There are 16 enhanced features in the museum. The “Enhanced Tour” can also be accessed from the website, www.willrogers.com and people can take the tour anytime. Each month people come from most of the United States and foreign countries to learn more about Will Rogers. Now, through use of smart devices, they are able to see what he had to say about their state or country. “Will commented on about every state and many countries,” Tad Jones, museum executive director, said. “He was aware of their politics and their surroundings and shared them in his writings. The new ‘Enhanced Tour’ will allow visitors to search their state or country and read what Will had to say about them and hopefully have a new connection with him.” An “Enhanced Tour” brochure is available at the museum entry with a map and numbers for various galleries and stops. “This program will be ever-changing and expanding as we add more content to each page and visitors will really enjoy listening to Michael Wallis’ voice as he gives a personal tour,” Jones said. The museum and ranch are open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily and are closed Thanksgiving and Christmas. From Nov. 11 through Feb. 28, the museums are closed Monday and Tuesday. Visit <a href="http://www.willrogers.com" target="_blank">willrogers.com</a> for more information.
BY LINDSEY BARK
Reporter
06/06/2018 12:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH – During a March meeting, Cherokee speakers added 88 newly translated words to the tribe’s language. The new additions contain science, art and grammar terminology, which will be added to a terminology booklet. Since 2007, a Cherokee language consortium of fluent speakers from the Cherokee Nation, United Keetoowah Band and Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians have translated more than 2,500 modern English words into Cherokee. “The reason we formed was because there are so many words that we did not have in Cherokee, for instance, ‘computer.’ All the newer stuff that we have in school and that we use in our homes, we didn’t have Cherokee words for that,” Anna Sixkiller, CN translator specialist, said. Kathy Sierra, language consortium chairwoman, said at each quarterly meeting, a new list of words is brought and translations begin by writing out the English version, looking at the definition and describing the words using the Cherokee language. “Just about everything that we say is described. We find the best description for that word,” she said. Sixkiller said one English word, such as balloon, could have a long Cherokee name because Cherokee is a descriptive language. She said the translation for balloon is “you put air in there and it goes out.” Also, laser printer when translated into Cherokee is described as “it lights up” and “it prints.” Sixkiller said the consortium looks at the linguistics of the English word in what it does, who does it and when in time someone does it. “The English language and the Cherokee language are two different languages. They don’t mix. I think the Cherokee language is unique, pretty and to the point,” Sixkiller said. Sierra said the EBCI’s Cherokee dialect differs from Oklahoma Cherokees’ dialect and that the group takes that into consideration when translating words. In the terminology booklet, Sixkiller said some words with two translations are marked with an (e) or (w) to denote eastern and western-style Cherokee. The next language consortium meeting is set for June 13-15 in Cherokee, North Carolina, home of the EBCI. To view the new words, <a href="http://www.cherokeephoenix.org/Docs/2018/6/42325__art_180518_88words_lb.pdf" target="_blank">click here</a>.