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Art act in effect at holiday

Assistant Editor
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. • 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.


09/30/2015 04:00 PM
DAHLONEGA, Ga. – The next meeting of the Georgia Chapter of the Trail of Tears Association will take place at 10:30 a.m. on Nov. 14 at the Funk Heritage Center in Waleska. The Funk Heritage Center is located on the campus of Reinhardt University near the intersection of Hwy. 140 and Hwy. 108. The center is Georgia’s official frontier and southeastern Indian interpretive center. It features the art collection of the late Margaret Rogers as well as the Sellars collection of antique and specialized tools. The featured speaker at this month’s meeting is Dr. Joseph Kitchens, executive director of the Funk Heritage Center. Dr. Kitchens will talk about the Hickory Log collection of artifacts. These artifacts were uncovered when excavation began at the site of the current Wal-Mart in Canton. He will also discuss the plans to create a new exhibit space to accommodate some of the artifacts and interpret the history of the Trail of Tears, the tragic and forced removal of the Native Americans from the southeast. The Funk Heritage Center was recently added to the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail as an interpretive site. The historic trail is administered by the National Park Service and supported by the Trail of Tears Association. The Nov. 14 meeting will coincide with the recognition of Native American Day at the Funk Heritage Center from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. This is a free public event. There will be hot dogs and drinks for sale or people may bring a picnic lunch. Call the museum at 770-720-5967 for directions. Also during the meeting, an election for the positions of president, vice President, secretary, and treasurer for the Georgia TOTA chapter will take place. The Trail of Tears Association is dedicated to identifying and preserving sites associated with the removal of Native Americans from the southeast. The organization is also committed to educating the public about this tragic period in our country’s history. The association consists of nine state chapters representing the nine states that the Cherokee and other tribes traveled through on their way to present-day Arkansas and Oklahoma. People in Georgia need not be a member to attend Georgia chapter meetings nor have Native American heritage, just an interest and desire to learn more about this fascinating subject. Meetings are free and open to the public. For more information about the TOTA, visit the National website at or the Georgia Chapter website <a href="" target="_blank"></a>. For questions about the Nov. 14 meeting, contact Tony Harris at <a href="mailto:"></a>.
09/29/2015 04:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Indigenous Scholar Development Center at Northeastern State University in Tahlequah will host a Cherokee storytelling series throughout the fall semester beginning Sept. 30. The theme for the series is “Persistence.” Cherokee storyteller and former Miss Cherokee Janelle Adair will lead each event. The Sept. 30 kickoff event will take place at 6 p.m. at Second Century Square. The ISCD invites the NSU campus community to the series. There is no cost to attend. Adair is a United Keetoowah Band citizen and has been telling stories for 16 years. “She is passionate about storytelling and brings to life the stories that her ancestors have told and passed down from generation to generation,” said Hannah Foreman, scholar development coordinator with the ISDC. During the series, Adair will incorporate explanations about how and why storytelling is a valuable tool still used by many tribes. She will also explain the significance of many stories passed down from generation to generation and elaborate on the types of storytelling. Adair said this opportunity will serve as a learning experience for those who may not be familiar with the history of Cherokee storytelling. As an NSU alumna, Adair also believes the theme of persistence will speak directly to the students. “Persistence, to me, describes what it takes to get through college. What many people don’t understand about the Native student population is that most of them aren’t pursuing a degree for personal gain or achievement. They’re often going to school to use that degree to help others,” Adair said. “Natives are selfless people. They look for ways to take care of someone else, and that can be family or the community in general. They set their goals around the idea of ‘What can I do to make things better for someone else?’” For more information, visit the ISDC located on the second floor of the John Vaughan Library on the Tahlequah campus or call Foreman at 918-444-3042.
09/29/2015 02:00 PM
TULSA, Okla. – The Cherokee Nation is celebrating 10 years of the best of the Cherokee Art Market with a special exhibit at the Hardesty Arts Center, also known as AHHA, through Nov. 1. “Cherokee Art Market: A Retrospective” will feature previous “Best of Show” winners from the annual competition, which has featured many of the best Native American artists in the country. The “Best of Show” winners are Marcus Amerman (Choctaw, 2006), Sharon Irla (Cherokee, 2007), Jackie Bread (Blackfeet, 2008), Betty Willems (Oneida, 2009), Bill Glass (Cherokee, 2010), Shawna Cain (Cherokee, 2011), Orlando Dugi (Navajo) and Ken Williams (Northern Arapaho, 2012), Alvin Marshall (Navajo, 2013) and Benjamin Harjo Jr. (Absentee Shawnee/Seminole, 2014). The celebration of past winners leads up to the return of the 10th annual Cherokee Art Market on Oct. 10-11 at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tulsa. More than 50 tribes are represented at the annual event that features artwork available for purchase. Pieces include beadwork, pottery, painting, basketry, sculptures, and textiles. As part of the two-day event, there will be cultural demonstrations open to the public from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day. Cultural demonstrations include jewelry, stamp work technique, katsina doll making, pottery, painting, basket weaving and music. For more information about the Cherokee Art Market, visit <a href="" target="_blank"></a>. The Hardesty Arts Center (AHHA) is located at 101 East Archer Street in the Brady Arts District. Gallery hours are Thursday through Sunday from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., and first Fridays from 1 p.m. to 9 p.m. More information about the Arts & Humanities Council of Tulsa and the Hardesty Arts Center may be found online: <a href="" target="_blank"></a>.
09/25/2015 04:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. (AP) - Passing on the skills of crafts and arts help keep traditions alive and culture shared. On Tuesday evening, several women gathered at the United Keetoowah Band John Hair Museum and Cultural Center to learn about making tear dresses from Leona Bendabout. All the participants could sew, but wanted to learn more about tear dresses. The workshop began with some background on Bendabout and the lavender tear dress on display. She wears it when singing with D.J. McCarter and the Cherokee Adult Choir. For about 25 years, Bendabout has been making tear dresses for herself, friends, family, and to sell. She lost her husband five years ago. “This is what keeps me going,” Bendabout said. “He was an ordained minister. He’s still with me.” Her most famous customer is also her favorite actor, Tommy Lee Jones. “He bought it when he was in Tahlequah and wears it in the movie ‘Missing,’” she said. Last month, Bendabout moved from Salina to Tahlequah. “I made my first dress in ninth grade; it was blue with yellow flowers,” she said. “I like sewing. I’ve made tear dresses in all colors.” The smallest print is called Cherokee print, she said. A tear dress can be cleaned in a washing machine by turning it inside out and adding a tablespoon of white vinegar to keep the color. “I like to use two colors. Turquoise is the main Cherokee color, with red, black, orange and yellow,” Bendabout said. “I get colors that I like together, like the brown door frame and beige wall - that looks good together. Or Ernestine Berry’s outfit of gray, black and red look good together.” The history of the dress was considered. “I read when the Trail of Tears went on, there was a lot of sadness; they buried loved ones along the road,” said Bendabout. “They started tearing their dresses to make bandages, and used their dresses to wipe their tears.” A friend in North Carolina has her mother’s tear dress. “It had a bonnet with it and was plain blue with flowers and a short ruffle on the end of the skirt,” she said. “It had short sleeves and was not gathered at the waist. The top was more like a bib.” “My mom said they didn’t have scissors, so she’d measure it out and tear it,” said Berry, director of the United Keetoowah Band John Hair Museum and Cultural Center. Patterns were discussed Tuesday, as were details of constructing a tear dress, with Bendabout displaying a pattern against the dress on a mannequin. The skirt had four pattern pieces. “The pattern calls for 7-1/2 yards, but I cut it down to 6 yards,” she said. “You measure your waistline for the band.” For trim, she uses 5/8ths-inch ribbon, because “it shows up better.” About a half a yard of matching or complementary fabric is used on top of the skirt, sleeve and top as an appliquéd accent. It can be a different shade: lavender over purple, black over red or a print over a solid color. She uses a half-yard for the band. The diamond, a square set at an angle, is the most common modern design, and three crosses were a traditional design on the back of the bodice. The gusset is a piece inset underneath the arm and connecting to the bodice; the fit is tight without it. “The ruffle takes the longest. It’s the last piece I put on,” said Bendabout. She uses chalk to measure and mark her fabric. “I cut my own button holes,” she said. Bendabout said creating a tear dress can take about three days, working eight hours each day. The cost of the class is $100, with Bendabout providing the pattern, chalk, pins and scissors. Attendees bring their own sewing machine and fabric. Sherry Garrett of Keys makes tear dresses for her granddaughters. “They want to dance. I’ve made them skirts and tops; now I want to make the whole dress,” said Garrett. “And get more confidence.” For Denise Griffin of Tahlequah, “it’s an opportunity to be part of a cultural tradition.” It was her first time to make a tear dress, though she used to make all her own clothes. “I want to make a tear dress I can wear to powwows,” Griffin said. “And I’ll come to the next class to learn how to make ribbon shirts for my husband and the men in the family.” The women in the class discussed how few people sew anymore. “I knew how good [Bendabout] is at making these garments - very experienced,” Berry said. “At the John Hair Museum and Cultural Center we want to continue the tradition and pass it on to provide opportunities to learn.”
Senior Reporter
09/25/2015 08:43 AM
OAKS, Okla. – The families of four Trail of Tears survivors gathered Sept. 19 to honor their ancestors during a memorial ceremony at the Russell Cemetery in Delaware County. The Oklahoma Chapter of the Trail of Tears Association honored Trail survivors David Miller, Lucy Israel Miller, Dah-gi Foster Russell and Watt Russell. Family members read the biographies of their ancestors and metal plaques were attached to the survivors’ headstones. The plaques read: “In honor of one who endured the forced removal of the Cherokees in 1838-39. The Trail of Tears Association Oklahoma Chapter.” The plaque also includes the TOTA and Cherokee Nation seals. Speaking to the families, National Trail of Tears President Jack Baker said in 1987 the National Park Service designated the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail to commemorate the removal of the Cherokee and other southeastern tribes to Indian Territory in the early 1800s. To work with the NPS to mark the trails used during the removals, the TOTA was formed in 1993, and in 1996 state chapters were formed. There are now nine state chapters in the association. “In those state chapters people work to locate where the actual trail went, mark the campsites along the way and burials, if they locate any,” Baker said. “In Oklahoma, there were five depots set up for the various (removal) detachments to go to, but they were just inside the line (separating Arkansas and Indian Territory), so there were not a lot of trail segments in Oklahoma to mark.” The Oklahoma chapter didn’t have trails to locate and mark, Baker said, but they did have the graves of the Cherokee people who walked those trails. “We should honor those who came and recognize them and mark their graves,” he said. “It wasn’t just something that happened in history, it was something that happened to your families. That’s why we wanted to recognize the graves, to bring the families together and make them realize this happened to us. These are our family members.” Ramona Russell Winfield of Kansas, Oklahoma, came to the ceremony to honor her great-great-grandfather Watt Russell. She attended with two sons and a brother and other Russell descendants. “It’s really something to see this many people come out to do this,” she said. Elizabeth Beaubien and her mother, Kay Underwood Beaubien, of Tulsa, attended the ceremony to honor David and Lucy Miller, who were Elizabeth’s great-great-great grandparents. She had the honor of reading Lucy’s biography. “I think it’s really neat to be able to learn the history and to understand what they went through with the Trail of Tears and how it did affect my family directly,” she said. Beaubien said she knew some about her Cherokee heritage, and her Cherokee grandfather had his Cherokee allotment land near Jay that she visited when she was younger, so she is familiar with the area. “But I certainly didn’t know their exact involvement in the Trail of Tears and how they came over on boat even,” she said. Before the ceremony, family members received booklets with the biographies of their ancestors who survived the removal. The booklets included the survivors’ genealogies that Oklahoma TOTA member and genealogist David Hampton compiled. Beaubien said much work went into her family’s genealogy, and it’s likely her family would not have been able to compile that much genealogy information on their own. “That is really neat to see and to be able to go through. I’m really grateful to be able to be here and be a part of it,” she said. “And also to the Trail of Tears Association, Oklahoma Chapter, I’d like to say thank you to them for putting this on and having everyone out and contacting me as well.” Having 100,000 names in his computer related to his Cherokee genealogy allows Hampton to compile information about the Trail of Tears survivors and their descendants. “I’ve been doing genealogy for 54 years. I started doing it when I was 11, and I would say I’ve been doing it seriously since then, and in the last 20 years really seriously,” he said. “Now it’s all I do. I’ve been retired for four and a half years and all I do, practically, is Cherokee genealogy.” Hampton said he worked 10 to 15 hours a week for three months to compile biography and genealogy information of the four Cherokee people honored at the ceremony. <strong>David Miller</strong> David Miller was born Feb. 8, 1833, near Red Clay, Tennessee, in the Cherokee Nation in what is now Bradley County. He was one of seven children of Nancy (Ward) Miller, a white woman, and Avery Vann Miller, a quarter-blood Cherokee who was often an interpreter for the Moravian Mission. In June 1838, he and some siblings entered the Moravian School, which had formerly been at Springplace, Georgia, but had been forced to relocate to Tennessee. His education in the east was short-lived. A few months later at age 5, he accompanied his family on the removal west in the George Hicks detachment, which left the east on Sept. 7, 1838, and arrived on March 14, 1839. It appears that his mother died just prior to or just after departure. About 1855 he married a fellow Moravian, Lucy Israel. They raised five children to adulthood. On June 13, 1858, at New Springplace, near what is now Oaks, he confirmed his infant baptism. In September 1862 he enlisted as a private in Company D in the 2nd Indian Home Guard and served the Union the remainder of the war, being honorably discharged in May 1865. He and his family continued to farm near Oaks for the remainder of his life. Because of his Civil War service, in 1891 he began receiving a disability pension due to having developed severe rheumatoid arthritis. He died at his home near Oaks on Feb. 7, 1894, and was buried in the Russell Cemetery. <strong>Lucy Israel Miller</strong> Lucy Israel was born in early 1828 on the Conasauga River in the Cherokee Nation East in what is now Murray County, Georgia. She was the daughter of full-blood Cherokee Moravian converts, Kah-sah-lah-wi and Nellie, whom the Moravians had given the baptismal names of Israel and Esther. On June 1, 1828, she was baptized at the Springplace Mission in Georgia. As a 10-year-old girl, she and her family were rounded up by soldiers early in the forced removal in May 1838 and sent west by boat. The Israel family originally settled on the Barren Fork River near what is now Proctor, Oklahoma, which was the original location of the Moravian Mission in the west. In 1844 the family moved to Spring Creek in the Goingsnake District west of present day Oaks where the Moravians had relocated for health and sanitation reasons. About 1855 at the New Springplace Mission she married David Miller. They were the parents of Alfred Miller, George Miller, Martha Miller Russell, Andy Miller and Joe Miller, who lived to adulthood, and at least one other son who died in infancy. Lucy died at her home near Oaks on March 30, 1896, and was buried in the Russell Cemetery. <strong>Dah-gi Foster Russell</strong> Dah-gi Foster Russell was born about 1833 in the Cherokee Nation East probably on the Coosawatee River in northwest Georgia. Her name was sometimes listed as Darky or Dorcas in English. Her father was a prominent Cherokee, formerly in the U. S. military, named Captain James Foster. Her mother was one of his later wives, Betsy Spaniard. Dah-gi travelled on the forced removal as a young girl, probably with her mother, in an unknown detachment and settled in the Goingsnake District in Delaware County. About 1853 she married Watt Russell, and they were the parents of four children surviving to adulthood: Aggie Miller, James Russell, Lydia Israel and Hettie Israel. The Russells farmed near Oaks where Dah-gi died on May 16, 1884. She was buried in the Russell Cemetery. <strong>Watt Russell</strong> Watt Russell was born about 1820 in the Cherokee Nation East, probably in what is now Cherokee County, Georgia. His father was named Oo-yah-li-gah-tli, and frequently known in English as “Rusty Belly.” His mother was Aggie Downing. As a young man, Watt endured the forced removal in the Daniel Detachment. About 1841 he married Doo-yuh-ski, known in English as Patsy Boiled Corn. They had two sons who survived to adulthood: Aaron “Adam” Russell and Samuel Russell. After their separation, he married Dah-gi Foster about 1853 and they had four surviving children: Aggie, James, Lydia and Hettie. During the Civil War, Watt supported the Union, serving as first sergeant in Companies H and I of the Second Indian Home Guard. After he was discharged in 1865 he returned to farming at his home near Oaks in the northwest corner of the Goingsnake District. In Cherokee politics he was a supporter of the Union (or Downing) Party where he was active in helping select suitable candidates to run on the party ticket. He survived his wife by 14 months and died at his home on May 27, 1885. He was buried in the Russell Cemetery.
09/18/2015 04:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. (AP) — Compared to other towns the size of Tahlequah, this city has a lot going for it, from its natural beauty to a unique downtown full of businesses and plenty of events and festivals. The Institute for Quality Communities team came to town Wednesday to assess possibilities that include making the most of natural and already-present facilities. IQC is from the University of Oklahoma, and along with members of the Urban Design Studio in Tulsa, provided a useful plan regarding the design of Tahlequah’s downtown. Among considerations made on Wednesday were ways to enhance the so-called “cultural district,” which is considered to stretch from Northeastern State University to Chickasaw Street, and from Water Avenue to College Avenue. Another discussion centered on what to name the district. Ideas that were suggested included the addition of toppers to light poles; painting crosswalks in colors and designs; completing the History Trail to include the Cherokee Nation Prison; and putting a screen over a large communications tower downtown, which would reflect colored lights that could change for the holidays. “Currently we are in a five-year grant cycle with the Oklahoma Arts Council to develop a cultural district, which we basically already have,” said Donna Tinnin, with Cherokee Nation Cultural Tourism, “much like the Plaza District in OKC, the Brady District, Blue Dome District and Pearl Districts in Tulsa as well as the Rose District in Broken Arrow.” Earlier this year, the cultural district committee contracted with a cultural-development specialist to assist in creating a strategic plan, which has been completed. “Tahlequah is very blessed with good urban bones,” said Shawn Schaefer, of the Urban Design Studio. “We’re excited to bring students here for service learning and hopefully the community benefits from our efforts. This week we’re here for impressions and ideas.” Some of those urban bones include a strong main street with original buildings occupied by mom-and-pop businesses. “You haven’t lost the character and there’s so much potential,” Schaefer said. “And one block over is the beautiful Town Branch Creek; a few steps will tie it all together, and it’s the link between the campus and main street, something to benefit ‘town and gown.’” The historic architecture of Seminary Hall and the Cherokee Courthouse Square, “elegant in their way,” he said, along with street signs that include Cherokee words add to the authentic feel and distinctive culture of Tahlequah. “Very green and attractive” is the way OU architecture graduate assistant Matt Crownover described Tahlequah. “Your town is very beautiful, a great place to walk around and plenty of places to relax and visit,” he said. “You all are doing a great job already.” Using the spaces already in place is a great place to start, Crownover said. “The [communications] tower does have potential as a landmark or beacon, to let people know where you are,” he said. “[At IQC], we talk about placemaking, which is about bringing the soul and life into a place,” said Assistant Director of the IQC Hope Mander. The group has visited many states and countries to bring back best practices that can then be shared with Oklahoma communities. “We take a multi-faceted approach to planning and designing public places around caring, and a place that has a soul and is cared for. And we see a lot already going on here, with people who care,” said Mander. Murals are one way, she said. “And you have several beautiful ones and places for more,” said Mander. “That’s a fairly affordable way to add to your cultural district.” Colored walkways and crosswalks are another example Mander highlighted on a slide presentation that could designate entering the cultural district. “It’s really great to get to know you and see how much you love Tahlequah,” said Erik Baker, development director for the College of Architecture at OU. Baker said there are three reasons visitors go to and stay in a place: green space, social offerings and aesthetics. “You have good parks and green all around you; music and art; a lot for people to do,” he said. “It seems you want to make your cultural district pop, stand out. You have street lights already here that you could add toppers to, to make them stand out. In Amsterdam, there is a crown topper on each street lamp near the queen’s palace.” It wouldn’t cost much, he said, and would provide some pizzazz to the area “that could be seen from a distance to let people know where you are; low cost and high visibility.” Baker also suggested a low-cost transparent screen or fabric be placed over the tall communications tower in the middle of town, where colored lights could shine though. The history trail was what Frantz focused on. “When our group came together this morning, we found we’d each focused on a different area,” Frantz said. “The history trail is what I think would most increase visibility and define the district.” Unique crosswalks would also help define the trail, he said. “Toppers on the street lights would help define your trail, and you can see the tower from anywhere on the history trail, so people would know where they were; it is a central landmark,” Frantz said. “You could extend the trail to the creek and museum to complete it with way-finding signs. Town Branch really ties everything together and would be a good name for the district. And you already have a leaf on Tour Tahlequah, which is very organic, and a leaf would lend to the logo for the district.”