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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 JAMI MURPHY
Senior Reporter – @cp_jmurphy
02/21/2017 03:30 PM
BELL, Okla. – Christopher Cojeen, a contracted archeologist with the Cherokee Nation, and a two other CN departments recently performed three site visits in Adair County near where a new federally funded road will be built near the community of Bell. Cojeen said during the last 20 to 25 years he has worked with the tribe to determine if there are homesteads or prehistoric sites located in the path of projects that use tribal or federal funds including road, community services buildings or housing projects. “Initially, we went out and did an archeological survey of the road. Just visually looking at the surface, looking for homesteads, prehistoric sites like you saw or cemeteries like you saw,” he said. “The Cherokee Nation has a lot of cemeteries that aren’t fenced, right up adjacent to the road…and today we were just coming back out with the roads department and Sheila Bird to determine how significant the sites were and whether we can go ahead and get funding to go to a second stage.” He added that the sites visited deserve to go to a testing level of recovery because there is so much lithic stone material on the surface as well as projectile points that are characteristic to a time period found at the sites. Two cemeteries were viewed in an effort to see the condition and state of the sites. Upon departmental recommendations, additional testing will occur around both cemeteries to determine if any burials are close to where the road will be built. Additional testing is warranted to ensure burials will not be disturbed during the construction. Another location visited he said would be an ideal location for a prehistoric site due to its location and relation to water tributaries. “You’ve got a first terrace like we were standing on over the creek and occupation like that would’ve happened during the archaic period for as much as 1,000 to 2,000 years (ago),” he said. “This would start roughly at 0 A.D. going back 1,000 to 2,000 years B.C.” At that age he said, it makes it difficult to determine a kind of “people” that may have inhabited the location. “That’s old enough that you’re really just looking at a time period. Many people do have a good idea of what groups were in this area at the time obviously, the Cherokee Nation brought in on the Trail of Tears wouldn’t be one of the tribes that would probably lay claim to this area prehistorically,” Cojeen said. Providing this type of service, he said, all people would benefit from with a better understanding of prehistory, but his involvement is due to a federal law protecting sites prehistoric and historic sites. “Aside from that, you’ve got an area which has a great number of stone tool recovery, and if we can find it in a dateable sequence, and this being right above the creek probably did have a lot of deposition that got laid over time. We might find archaic tools on the surface and as we go back middle archaic tools and early archaic or maybe even Paleo-Indian material resting at the bottom of the whole thing. If we have a good stratigraphic situation like that, then we can learn a lot about the changes in occupation over time.” Moving forward, Cojeen said, they’ll go into a testing phase of recovery where they’ll place areas in “one by one’s like you see on T.V.,” he said. Check back with the Cherokee Phoenix for updates on this story.
BY STAFF REPORTS
02/10/2017 12:00 PM
LONGMONT, Colo. – First Nations Development Institute, a national Native American nonprofit organization that works to improve Native economies and communities, on Feb. 2 announced it has received a $2.7 million grant for a three-year Native arts project. This award will position First Nations to expand its Native Arts Initiative, formerly known as the “Native Arts Capacity Building Initiative,” into 2019. Launched in early 2014, the purpose of the Native Arts Initiative is to support the perpetuation and proliferation of Native American arts, cultures and traditions as integral to Native community life. It does this by providing organizational and programmatic resources to Native-led organizations and tribal government programs that have existing programs in place that support Native artists and traditional arts in their communities. Since 2014, First Nations has awarded more than $600,000 in grant funds to various eligible Native-led nonprofit organizations and tribal programs in Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin to bolster the sustainability of their organizational and programmatic infrastructure as well as the professional development of their staff and leadership. Under the expansion, First Nations will continue to offer competitive funding opportunities to Native-led nonprofit organizations and tribal programs in Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin. First Nations will begin to offer competitive funding opportunities to Native-led nonprofit organizations and tribal programs in two new regions – the Southwest, including Arizona, New Mexico and Southern California, and the Pacific Northwest, including Washington and Oregon. First Nations expects to release a request for proposals in the coming days and will award approximately 45 Supporting Native Arts Grants of up to $32,000 each over the next three years to eligible Native-led nonprofits and tribal government programs in these regions. NAI recipient organizations and programs will utilize their grants to strengthen their organizational and programmatic infrastructure and sustainability, which will reinforce their support of the field of Native American artists as culture bearers and traditional arts in their communities. In addition to financial support, the NAI will offer individualized training and technical assistance opportunities for grantees as well as competitive professional development opportunities for staff members of eligible Native-led organizations and tribal programs. For a list of current and former NAI grantees, visit <a href="http://www.firstnations.org" target="_blank">http://www.firstnations.org</a>.
BY STAFF REPORTS
02/09/2017 04:00 PM
PARK HILL, Okla. – The 46th annual Trail of Tears Art Show is set to run from April 8 through May 6 at the Cherokee Heritage Center with categories including painting, sculpture, pottery, basketry, graphics, jewelry and miniatures. Artists will compete for more than $15,000. Artists must be a citizen of a federally recognized tribe to enter the show. A submission fee of $10 is charged per entry and entries must be submitted to callie-chunestudy@cherokee.org by 5 p.m. on March 15. Artists who wish to enter their works should submit photographs of their completed works, an entry form and the fee. These items must be submitted at the same time or the entry will be disqualified. A list of accepted artwork will be posted on March 22 on the CHC website. An awards reception is set for 6 p.m. on April 7 to recognize winners in each category. The Trail of Tears Art Show began in 1972 as a means of fostering the development of painting as a form of expressing Native American heritage. Initiated before the completion of the museum, the art show was held in the rain shelter of the Tsa-La-Gi Theater. In 1975, it became the first major exhibition in the present museum. The CHC is located at 21192 S. Keeler Drive. For more information, call 1-888-999-6007 or visit <a href="http://www.cherokeeheritage.org" target="_blank">www.cherokeeheritage.org</a>.
BY STAFF REPORTS
02/05/2017 10:00 AM
PARK HILL, Okla. – Native American youths are invited to participate in the 2017 Cherokee Art Market Youth Competition and Show, scheduled for April 8 through May 6. All artists must be citizens of a federally recognized tribe, in grades sixth through 12, and are limited to one entry per person. There is no fee to participate in the competition. Entries will be received between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. on March 31 at the Cherokee Heritage Center. All submissions must include an entry form attached to the artwork, an artist agreement form and a copy of the artist’s Certificate Degree of Indian Blood card or tribal card. Artwork will be evaluated by division and grade level. Awards include Best in Show: $250; first place: $150; second place: $125; and third place: $100. The Best in Show winner will also receive a free booth in October at the Cherokee Art Market. A reception will be held at 6 p.m. on April 7 at the CHC in conjunction with the 46th annual Trail of Tears Art Show. Winning artwork will remain on display throughout the duration of the Cherokee Art Market Youth Show, ending May 9. Cherokee Nation Cultural Tourism is hosting the Cherokee Art Market Youth Competition. For more information, call Deborah Fritts at 918-384-6990 or email <a href="mailto: cherokeeartmarket@cnent.com">cherokeeartmarket@cnent.com</a>. The CHC is located at 21192 S. Keeler Drive.
BY ASSOCIATED PRESS
02/03/2017 04:00 PM
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) – Museum officials said construction of the American Indian Cultural Center & Museum in Oklahoma City may resume as soon as this fall after a decades-long effort to create it. Fundraisers have collected $10.8 million in private donations, the Oklahoman reported. Fundraisers said they’ve collected enough funds to complete and open the museum, as outlined in a 2015 state law. Museum officials approved a plan to allow the acceptance of the donated money and give Executive Director Blake Wade authority to deposit the money in a state “completion fund.” According to Oklahoma City attorney John Michael Williams, depositing the private donations would start the process of issuing state bonds. He said the process would take four to five months. “I predict construction, if things go routinely, construction would start in October,” he said. The private donations are the first installment of the state’s $25 million pledge of matching funds to finish the museum. The cost to complete the museum is estimated to be at least $65 million. “This is a milestone resolution, a milestone day,” Williams said. The inside of the 162,000-square-foot museum remained mostly unfinished when construction came to a halt five years ago due to insufficient state funding, with the exterior of the museum nearly finished. In 2015, Oklahoma City leaders and the Chickasaw Nation partnered to complete and open the museum. Their partnership also includes the development of surrounding commercial property. Currently, the board includes $876,000 into its annual expenses to maintain the facility, secure the site and preserve warranties.
BY STAFF REPORTS
01/30/2017 12:15 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Cherokee Nation Cultural Tourism will host cultural classes to learn the art of making traditional pucker-toe moccasins. The Saturday workshops are scheduled from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. for March 11, July 15, Oct. 7 and Nov. 4 at the Cherokee National Prison Museum. Registration costs $35 and is available at <a href="http://www.cherokeegiftshop.com" target="_blank">www.cherokeegiftshop.com</a>. Early registration is recommended, as class size is limited to 15 people. All materials will be provided to make traditional pucker-toe moccasins, which were historically worn by the Cherokee people. Participants are asked to bring their own lunches. The Cherokee National Prison was the only penitentiary building in Indian Territory from 1875 to 1901. It housed sentenced and accused prisoners from throughout the territory. It is located at 124 E. Choctaw St. For more information, call 1-77-779-6977 or visit <a href="http://www.VisitCherokeeNation.com" target="_blank">www.VisitCherokeeNation.com</a>.