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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
Interim Executive Editor – @cp_wchavez
02/10/2016 08:15 AM
WESTVILLE, Okla. – Representatives from the Community and Cultural Outreach’s History and Preservation Office are presenting a Cherokee Nation History & Humanities course at the John F. Henderson Public Library. The course will be available from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. every Wednesday through March 16. The seven-lesson course covers pre-European contact through modern-day history, culture and life ways of the Cherokee people. Students are invited to learn more about the history of the Cherokees by viewing select texts, historic documents and short videos that highlight traditions, social life, triumphs and tragedies. “I think it’s important that Cherokee citizens know about our Cherokee history, our culture, our life ways, and what makes us distinctly Cherokee people, and how we’re different from other (tribal) nations,” said Catherine Foreman Gray, CN History and Preservation officer, who is helping teach the course. She said beyond her and other History and Preservation officers teaching the course, there would be guest presenters during the seven-week course. These “subject experts” will discuss topics related to Cherokee history, government and culture. The goal is to give students a comprehensive and multi-perspective introduction to the history and humanities of the CN, its citizens and culture. It is also the goal to instill a greater understanding and appreciation of the unique Cherokee culture and traditions. No materials are needed for the course, but students are encouraged to bring writing utensils and paper. A recommended reading list is included at the end of each lesson for students interested in learning more. CN citizen, Stilwell resident and retired schoolteacher Susie Thompson said she was interested in Cherokee history and culture and that the course piqued her interest. “I’d like to learn more about the ancient Cherokee history and also the modern history, and any archeological digs and things of that nature,” Thompson said. She said she also attended the course to reinforce her knowledge of Cherokee history and culture. “I know I’ve heard many of the things before, but it’s not really stuck in my mind like I want it to be,” she said. Thompson is also a member of the Adair County Historical & Genealogical Association based in nearby Stilwell. She said the group is developing history lessons that include Cherokee history and culture to share with classrooms in the county, so what she learns in the class would benefit that project.
BY STAFF REPORTS
02/08/2016 10:30 AM
SANTA FE, N.M. – This year is the centennial of the birth of the late Cherokee artist Lloyd Kiva New, and three Santa Fe arts institutions are celebrating this anniversary in style. Locally, New, who died in 2002, is known as the Institute of American Indian Art’s first artistic director. Yet nationally, Native people refer to him as the “Godfather of Native Fashion.” The Museum of Indian Arts and Culture, the IAIA Museum of Contemporary Native Arts and the New Mexico Museum of Art will each present an exhibition in 2016 focusing on New’s contributions to contemporary Native culture. Additionally, the three institutions are planning a symposium, multiple lectures, panel discussions, fashion show, gala and 100th birthday party. For the past two years, the museums have worked to honor New’s iconic status with items on view from their respective holdings, from his widow Aysen New’s collection and items rarely on public display from important private collections. Opening first is the IAIA Museum of Contemporary Native Art’s “Lloyd Kiva New: Art, Design and Influence,” which draws on three themes of his legacy. The art aspect includes paintings by New from his personal collection, completed between 1938-95, many never before shown in a museum or gallery. The design portion presents the artist as an innovator of Native Modernism through fashion and textile design in an interpretive reproduction of the Kiva Studio – New’s successful 1950s showroom in Scottsdale, Arizona. The influence aspect features more than 40 printed textiles created by IAIA students during the 1960s and 1970s under New’s artistic direction – drawn from the permanent collection of the IAIA Museum of Contemporary Native Arts. Additionally, patrons will be able to “create” designs based on New’s work through an interactive display. IAIA officials said they hope to illuminate New’s artistic abilities, successful fashion career and profound impact on contemporary Native art. A soft opening for the exhibition was scheduled for Jan. 22 and will run through July 31. Lloyd Kiva New: Art will remain open until Sept. 1. The exhibit’s official opening and reception will be held Feb. 18 on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of his birth. The Museum of Indian Arts and Culture’s career retrospective “A New Century: The Life and Legacy of Cherokee Artist and Educator Lloyd ‘Kiva’ New,” is slated for Feb. 14 to Dec. 30. The exhibit is a look into New’s life from his beginnings in Oklahoma to the burgeoning days at IAIA. In between he strides the decks of the USS Sanborn during World War II and the halls of the Art Institute of Chicago. Opening successive and successful boutiques and craft centers in the gleaming post-war enclave of Scottsdale. New was a pioneer in the worlds of fashion, entrepreneurship and Native art instruction. His vision of cultural studies and creative arts education continues to influence and inspire. Through personal recollections, photos, archival documents and objects pour la couture, the exhibit reviews the life of this American Indian visionary. The New Mexico Museum of Art’s exhibit “Finding a Contemporary Voice: The Legacy of Lloyd Kiva New and IAIA,” slated for May 20 to Oct. 10, showcases artwork by former and present IAIA faculty and alumni demonstrating the contribution these artists have made to the larger field of contemporary art. Taking a group portrait of IAIA faculty and the legacy of the institution’s first art director as starting points, this exhibition includes work by IAIA faculty and alumni from the 1960s to the present. In his teaching, New encouraged looking at innovative techniques and forms as a path to creating contemporary Indian art. Additionally, IAIA and MIAC will jointly present a symposium, “The Lloyd Kiva New Centennial Convocation” in October. The convocation will be an interdisciplinary look at the contemporary Native art movement. Other activities planned include fashion shows, panel discussions, lectures, a Veterans Day event and additional special programming in conjunction with Indian Market in August. IAIA will also offer the class “Lloyd Kiva New and the Contemporary Native Art Movement” in the Spring 2016 semester, taught by IAIA archivist Ryan Flahive and guest lecturers. New earned a degree in art education from the Art Institute of Chicago in 1938. He taught painting at the Phoenix Indian School until enlisting in the Navy in 1941. Upon returning to Phoenix after World War II, he became a charter member of the Arizona Craftsmen cooperative, a group of artists who helped develop Scottsdale into a western center of handcrafted arts. New took the trade name “Kiva” in 1946, and the Kiva Studio built an affluent clientele and earned national acclaim for his handbags, clothing and printed textiles throughout the 1950s. In 1962, New changed his career path by serving as the IAIA’s first art director until 1967, then as the school’s president until 1978. In 1988, he returned to serve as interim president, finally becoming president emeritus. Although officially retired, New continued to be active in the Native arts community, serving on the Indian Arts and Crafts board, as well as the boards of national museums, and continued writing and speaking worldwide until his death in 2002. He had a broad, humanistic approach to the arts, stressing creative links to the traditional arts but urging students not to be bound by them and to reject the stereotypical notions of American Indian art and culture.
BY STACIE GUTHRIE
Reporter – @cp_sguthrie
02/03/2016 08:15 AM
CALERA, Okla. – When it comes to expressing herself through art, Cherokee Nation citizen Hailey Bishop has been doing so since she was 2. In the past 16 years she’s created art and won awards for it. The 18-year-old said she first started with coloring books. That’s when her parents noticed her talent. “I was like 2 and I’d be coloring in my high chair and my parents would notice a whole different change. They were like ‘this isn’t normal.’ So they started buying me little paint kits and 64 packs of crayons,” she said. She started taking art seriously at age 7, entering her art in the Bryan County Fair. She said from then she branched out by attending art shows and finding her passion of creating portraits. She said it’s “intriguing” to capture people’s faces. “That’s the thing that I’ve always been interested in since I was very little. That’s what I see. I like nature too, but just peoples faces, it’s very intriguing,” Bishop said. “Most people think that they’re the hardest to draw, but to me they’re the funnest and always the easiest.” Bishop said she enjoys drawing faces because it feels as if she’s connecting with the person. “There’s something about faces when I draw them. It’s almost like you know the person, especially if it’s a very old photo of Native Americans or just any person. It’s almost like you’re getting to know the person,” she said. Bishop also said she creates art in various media. “I paint. I’m trying to venture out into oil painting. Oil painting is kind of hard to do. You have to get things done really quick because it dries so slow,” she said. “I’m venturing out into clay. I’ve tried to mix mediums together with say leaves on canvases, really just out-of-the-box type things. I’ve painted on all types of surfaces. My go-to is in drawing. I really like charcoal. Charcoal is very messy, but it’s a challenging medium.” As for her inspirations, they vary by piece and by how she’s feeling. “I really love to feed off my inspirations of what God might give me, and usually it’s nature and people. Sometime it can just be something I’m just really happy about or I’m just really moved by. Most of my emotions drive my artwork,” she said. “Sometimes nothing really inspires me for some pieces. Sometimes I just want to do it…It’s like what I feel at the time and that’s really it.” Bishop said she won big at the 2015 Southeastern Art Show and Market in Sulphur even though she missed the deadline but was allowed to enter. She said by entering late she had limited time to create. “I had a week and a half to work on my work. That was the most challenging thing I have ever done.” She entered four pieces and they all placed. “I didn’t expect that I would win anything. I was just like ‘I’m just going to try.’ I usually shoot for the best, which would be best of show, which I didn’t get but I’m totally OK with that. I wasn’t expecting to get anything,” she said. “It was a really awesome experience. It’s just another year that you get these opportunities and more experience. Now that I’m going into the adult category I’m really stepping up my game, and it’s just a whole different world.” She won “Best of Two-Dimensional Art” for her drawing “2 Corinthians 4:7” in the youth category. “It just happened to be the one that I was least expecting to place that won the whole shebang,” she said. She also won three youth juror awards for her drawings “Song of Solomon 4:7,” “Study of Native American Woman by Manuel Librodo” and her painting “Find Peace.” She earned nearly $1,200 in award money and nearly another $1,200 from selling her artwork. Bishop said it’s important to have found her calling in art and believes young people should also find something that drives them. “Know what drives you and stick with those things because if you don’t have a purpose behind anything that you want to do how are you going to stick with it? How are you going to achieve more things?” she said. “Especially for young people, I think it’s important for them to have something to grasp on to, especially in our society today.” Bishop said she enjoys being an artist and is grateful for the opportunities art has provided her. “The artist that I am is just, it’s a crazy thing to really describe, but if I wasn’t an artist I think that I wouldn’t know how to express myself,” she said. “I love the fact that being an artist affects my whole person. It affects how I see everything. It affects what my morals are. It affects many aspects in my daily life.” Bishop attends Calera High School and is set to graduate this year. She was recently accepted into Oklahoma State University in Stillwater and plans to major in graphic design. “I’ve decided to venture out and major in graphic design because of the work that I’m doing at my local vo-tech down here. I’m in a graphic design class now, so I have a lot of opportunities to already get hands-on experience,” she said.
BY STAFF REPORTS
01/28/2016 08:15 AM
WESTVILLE, Okla. – A free Cherokee history and humanities course begins Feb. 3 and will run until March 6 at the John F. Henderson Public Library located at 116 North Williams St. The course, offered by the Cherokee Nation, is open to the public and will run from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Wednesdays. The course will allow participants interested in Cherokee history and culture to get an overview of the Nation’s changes from pre-contact with European settlers through Oklahoma statehood. Upon completion of the 21-hour course, participants will receive a certificate from the tribe. “The courses and the lecture series we’ve done in the past have all been well received by our students,” said instructor Roy Hamilton. “We try to limit the amount of lecturing that takes place by adding in some video and film, demonstrations, and bringing in guest speakers. It is important for the Cherokee people, and the public in general, to understand that the Cherokee Nation possesses a unique cultural identity.” For more information or to pre-register, call Hamilton at 918-453-5210 or email <a href="mailto: roy-hamilton@cherokee.org">roy-hamilton@cherokee.org</a>.
BY STAFF REPORTS
01/27/2016 12:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Echota Ground will host a benefit stomp dance at 7 p.m. until midnight on Feb. 6 at the Tahlequah Community Building. According to a Facebook post about the event, all ceremonial grounds are welcome and the event will include raffles, cakewalks and auctions. Concession will also be available. All proceeds will go to benefit improvements to the Echota Ground.
BY JAMI MURPHY
Reporter – @cp_jmurphy
01/22/2016 08:30 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Matthew Anderson, a cultural specialist at the Spider Gallery, is offering daily lunchtime cultural presentation from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday at the gallery. “And it may not just be a cultural presentation there may actually be sketching, painting, sculpture, but there’s also a desire for finger weaving and twining,” Anderson said. “Those demonstrations I’ll be able to stop and do those at any time.” He said he’s had people, including Cherokee language teachers and enrichment program participants, who wanted to go over some activities that have been covered in cultural education classes. “And so we are available from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. to do that the rest of January and February at least,” he said. Other presentations might include cordage from plant material, which will also include going over what plants are available locally and their uses. “There are lunch specials through the Kawi Café and those daily specials are usually ready very quickly. If you just have a short lunch break, you can order one of the daily specials and also increase your knowledge of Cherokee art and culture by either just viewing the demonstration or actually participating in the instruction,” Anderson said. All the short lunchtime courses are available through the art center in a more in-depth style. For more information visit cherokeeartscenter.com and find the Spider Gallery link on that page or call 918-453-5728. Anderson said he could also be reached by email at <a href="mailto: matthew-anderson@cherokee.org">matthew-anderson@cherokee.org</a> or on Facebook.