http://www.cherokeephoenix.orgThe seven Cherokee clans are represented on the back of a guitar decorated by Cherokee artist Verna Bates. WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
The seven Cherokee clans are represented on the back of a guitar decorated by Cherokee artist Verna Bates. WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX

Cherokees create artwork using guitars

Cherokee gourd artist Verna Bates shows off her entry for a guitar project at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Tulsa. WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX Cherokee gourd artist Verna Bates shows off her entry for a guitar project at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Tulsa. WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX Cherokee artist Jeff Edwards uses ancient Southeastern-style designs for his guitar design. The legendary Cherokee serpent Uktena wraps the outer edges of the guitar body. COURTESY PHOTO Brass and nickel accents are a part of a guitar designed by Cherokee artist Roger Cain. WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX Booger mask maker Roger Cain places a booger made of brass, nickel and copper on the back of the guitar he designed for the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino. WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX Cherokee artist Karen Berry displays her guitar entry for the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Tulsa. The legendary Cherokee serpent Uktena wraps the front of the guitar in Berry’s design. COURTESY PHOTO Artist Roy Boney Jr., shows his guitar design with the legendary Uktena horned serpent. WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX The legendary horned serpent Uktena dominates the design created by Cherokee artist Roy Boney. COURTESY PHOTO Cherokee artist Joseph Erb uses an iconography design for a guitar project for the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Tulsa. COURTESY PHOTO The horned feather serpent of Cherokee legend Uktena wraps the outer edge of the back of guitar designed by Joseph Erb. COURTESY PHOTO
Cherokee gourd artist Verna Bates shows off her entry for a guitar project at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Tulsa. WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
BY WILL CHAVEZ
Assistant Editor – @cp_wchavez
04/17/2012 08:25 AM
Video with default Cherokee Phoenix Frame
CATOOSA, Okla. – Cherokee artist Jeff Edwards recently took on the challenge of transforming an electric guitar into art that will be displayed in the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Tulsa.

He is one of 39 Cherokee artists who had until April 10 to finish design work on Epiphone-brand guitars. Edwards, of Sallisaw, said he chose images from the book “Sun Circles and Human Hands,” which includes Southeastern-style designs.

“I thought it would look really cool on a guitar and then recreated and customized them to my liking. Since I don’t paint once the images were completed I sent them to…Inkdt in Cincinnati, which is a company that produces custom guitar skins out of the artwork you submit to fit your make and model of guitar,” he said. “By doing the skin it allowed me to produce exactly what I wanted and then apply it to the guitar.”

He said the guitar skin uses the same concept as “skinning” a laptop or cell phone case.

Edwards said he was inspired by custom guitars used by musicians such as Eddie Van Halen, who have a custom guitar design that is unique to them, and created his own unique custom guitar design.

“The most difficult part of the project was deciding what to use and then laying it out on the guitar. I really enjoyed the whole process from creating the images to applying the skin and putting it all back together and having a finished product,” he said.

Verna Bates, of Locust Grove, said her specialty is gourd art but welcomed the challenge of decorating a guitar.

Recently, she has focused on the seven Cherokee clans when designing her gourd masks and used masks representing the clans in her guitar design. Because the guitars are meant for the renovated Wild Potato Buffet, Bates focused on the Wild Potato clan for the front of the guitar and placed designs for all the clans on the back of the guitar.

Bates said she understands that 39 guitars will be displayed in glass cases along the walls of the buffet. Guitars that don’t match the color scheme of the buffet may be placed in other areas of the casino, she said.

Through a Facebook page for artists, Bates said she has seen other guitars being worked on by artists and that some were “awesome” ideas.

She said artists were asked to use a period from “time immemorial to 1790” when coming up with design ideas. Artist then submitted design sketches to casino officials before being chosen to participate in the project.

Bates said she’s glad she is part of a group of artists who are working on a project to inform the public about Cherokee culture and people.

“I can’t wait to see the whole group of them when they are displayed,” she said. “It’s wonderful to be in that group. It’s good to be included. It makes my heart swell.”

He can work with “about any material he can get a hold of” but artist Roger Cain, of Stilwell, chose copper, brass, nickel and aluminum for his guitar. Traditionally, Cherokee people used copper when designing jewelry and ornaments, but Cain said he wanted to use the other materials so the guitar would have contrasting colors.

Cain’s specialty is making gourd booger masks, which were once used in Cherokee ceremonies to show the unbecoming attributes of a people without embarrassing the culprits or to make fun of the unique characteristics of white people.

He placed a bird design on the front of his guitar and a booger face on the back. All of the metal used made the guitar heavy, he said, but added contrasting qualities.

“It was fun process, especially knowing we could do what we wanted to with it as long as we conveyed a Southeastern theme,” he said.

Cain said he hopes the guitar project will lead to the Cherokee Nation leading the way on a public art project like the one in Cherokee, N.C., where larger-than-life bears were painted by artists and placed throughout the town. He envisions possibly using deer, eagles or even large crawfish for the public art project.

“That’d be something to explore for sure, getting more public art here in Tahlequah if we are really wanting to push the art scene here, which has been really great,” he said.

He said he appreciates Cherokee Casinos funding and pushing the Cherokee art scene to where it is constantly changing and evolving and not static.

Roy Boney Jr., of Tahlequah, chose to focus on the feathered, horned serpent of Cherokee legend called the Uktena for his design. He said his talent is drawing and painting with acrylic paint.

“Getting a guitar to paint was something new, something I’d never done before,” he said. “On the front is the snake itself, mainly the head, coming at you. On the back I’m going to paint the word Uktena in the (Cherokee) syllabary, but it’s going to be splashy, like dirty and messy to go with the idea of hard rock.”

Boney’s design includes a “happy mistake” because the gloss finish he used began to peel when he removed the mask he had put on the front of the guitar to protect it while he painted the back. However, the peeled paint only added to the rough design he hoped to achieve, he said.

“So the idea now is to make the surface of the guitar look like it’s been dinged up a lot by somebody on tour with this guitar,” he said.

Boney played the guitar when he was younger, so taking apart the guitar wasn’t too difficult for him, he said, but taking it apart and making sure he could incorporate his design on it was difficult.

The Uktena also dominates the design of Karen Berry of Garland, Texas. She also usually works with gourds, and as a whole, she said working on the guitar didn’t prove to be much of a challenge for her because she’s used to working with hollow gourds.

“It’s a big gourd really. I’m used to working on something three dimensional like that,” she said. “I enjoyed it and had a lot of fun.”

The Uktena is on the front and back of her guitar, and she used a Cherokee mound builders scroll pattern on the fretwork.

“I didn’t make mine (Uktena) scary looking,” she said.

Designing the scroll pattern on the fret board was the most difficult part of the process, Berry said, because the frets were glued on.

“They actually get closer together down toward the head of the guitar and I didn’t realize that. So I couldn’t really center the scroll on the frets, so that was really difficult. I just kind of had to draw around the frets,” she said.

She said from her observations, it seems every artist with a guitar has done something “completely different.” There are Cherokee painters, graphic artists, sculptors, metal workers, beaders, booger mask makers, basket makers and potters involved in the project.

Graphic artist Joseph Erb’s design is centered on old Cherokee iconography or symbols. He used symbols of old bears, raccoons and flat-style birds and two Uktena horned serpents swirl up on the back of the guitar with their tongues lashing out.

“The movement of the whole piece is actually sectioned and it deals with the old concepts of this world and the next world,” he said. “The Uktenas were in between both worlds.”

He said the front part of his guitar deals with the world now and the design transitions to the design on the back of the guitar.

“It’s a flat design, and I want my piece to be smooth and elegant and clean looking. I want it to have that old-style look, but something that looks highly modern,” he said.

He sent his design to a company to have a skin made for his guitar and then adhered the skin around the guitar.

Erb believes the guitar project will be a “game changer” for the Cherokee art world because artists “really stepped up their game.” He also believes the guitars will be their own attraction among the other Hard Rock attractions.

“It seems in the last five years the artists are starting to come together and talk more, and it seems to really help their work. When you see something cool that someone did, you can’t just turn anything in now. You’ve got to turn something nice in because you just saw three people that blew your mind, and now it’s your turn,” he said.

will-chavez@cherokee.org


918-207-3961

About the Author
Will lives in Tahlequah, Okla., but calls Marble City, Okla., his hometown. He is Cherokee and San Felipe Pueblo and grew up learning the Cherokee language, traditions and culture from his Cherokee mother and family. He also appreciates his father’s Pueblo culture and when possible attends annual traditional dances held on the San Felipe Reservation near Albuquerque, N.M.

He enjoys studying and writing about Cherokee history and culture and writing stories about Cherokee veterans. For Will, the most enjoyable part of writing for the Cherokee Phoenix is having the opportunity to meet Cherokee people from all walks of life.
He earned a mass communications degree in 1993 from Northeastern State University with minors in marketing and psychology. He is a member of the Native American Journalists Association.

Will has worked in the newspaper and public relations field for 20 years. He has performed public relations work for the Cherokee Nation and has been a reporter and a photographer for the Cherokee Phoenix for more than 18 years. He was named interim executive editor on Dec. 8, 2015, by the Cherokee Phoenix Editorial Board.
WILL-CHAVEZ@cherokee.org • 918-207-3961
Will lives in Tahlequah, Okla., but calls Marble City, Okla., his hometown. He is Cherokee and San Felipe Pueblo and grew up learning the Cherokee language, traditions and culture from his Cherokee mother and family. He also appreciates his father’s Pueblo culture and when possible attends annual traditional dances held on the San Felipe Reservation near Albuquerque, N.M. He enjoys studying and writing about Cherokee history and culture and writing stories about Cherokee veterans. For Will, the most enjoyable part of writing for the Cherokee Phoenix is having the opportunity to meet Cherokee people from all walks of life. He earned a mass communications degree in 1993 from Northeastern State University with minors in marketing and psychology. He is a member of the Native American Journalists Association. Will has worked in the newspaper and public relations field for 20 years. He has performed public relations work for the Cherokee Nation and has been a reporter and a photographer for the Cherokee Phoenix for more than 18 years. He was named interim executive editor on Dec. 8, 2015, by the Cherokee Phoenix Editorial Board.

Culture

BY TRAVIS SNELL
Assistant Editor – @cp_tsnell
12/09/2017 10:00 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – With its 2017 annual homecoming T-shirt now for sale, the Cherokee Phoenix is calling for Cherokee artists to submit design concepts for the news organization’s 2018 T-shirt. In 2016, the Cherokee Phoenix staff introduced a T-shirt to differ from the tribe’s Cherokee National Holiday T-shirt. Phoenix staff members contracted with artist Buffalo Gouge for the shirt’s initial design. For this year’s homecoming shirt, Phoenix staff members selected Daniel HorseChief’s concept out of approximately 10 designs from artists. The Cherokee Phoenix then contracted with HorseChief to create the 2017 shirt. HorseChief said his concept comes from a four-panel painting that features Selu, the Corn Mother in Cherokee lore. The image shows the bust of Selu, who is looking down into a Southeastern art pattern. Behind her on the left side are seven ears of corn with water under it. Behind her on the opposite side is a phoenix with fire below it. Above the phoenix is the Cherokee seven-pointed star. Above the image, written in Cherokee, are the words “Cherokee Phoenix.” Below the image, in English, is “2017 CHEROKEE HOMECOMING.” The limited-quantity, black shirts are short-sleeved, ranging in sizes small to 3XL and sell for $20 plus tax. The shirts are available at the Cherokee Phoenix office in Room 231 of the Annex Building (Old Motel) on the Tribal Complex. For more information, call 918-453-5269. They are also available at the Cherokee Nation Gift Shop, als0 on the Tribal Complex, or online at <a href="http://cherokeegiftshop.com" target="_blank">http://cherokeegiftshop.com</a>. Phoenix staff members will also have shirts available at the Cherokee Phoenix booths at the W.W. Keeler Tribal Complex and Capital Square during the Cherokee National Holiday in September. The Cherokee Phoenix is accepting concept ideas from artists who are Cherokee Nation, United Keetoowah Band or Eastern Band citizens until midnight on Jan. 1. Artist can email detailed concepts to <a href="mailto: travis-snell@cherokee.org">travis-snell@cherokee.org</a>. For artists contemplating submitting design ideas, please note that if your concept is chosen and you sign a contract, the Cherokee Phoenix will own the artwork because we consider it a commissioned piece. As for what Phoenix staff members look for in a concept, we ask that artists “think Cherokee National Holiday” and include a phoenix.
BY KENLEA HENSON
Reporter
12/08/2017 08:15 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Cherokee National Treasure Tommy Wildcat recently released a CD tilted “Donadagohv’i” or “See You Again,” which consists of 10 original flute compositions that are either studio productions or recorded performances. The Native American Music Award-winning flutist said he’s been playing for 25 years and has traveled across the nation and abroad sharing Cherokee culture via his music. “It’s important to share my music with people to promote the beautiful word of our American Indian heritage, but it also inspires those around me and those who are just finding their Cherokee heritage to get involved,” Wildcat said. Wildcat has performed at historical sites, festivals, powwows and CN at-large community events. He’s made 18 trips to Hawaii, visited 37 universities and taken four European tours. He’s also been a featured performer at the New Orleans Jazz Festival, Stockholm Water Festival and Cherokee Days at the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C. Before gaining recognition as a flutist, Wildcat made Cherokee crafts such as blowguns, darts, clay bead necklaces and river cane flutes. While making flutes and perfecting their sounds, Wildcat taught himself to play and developed a love for it. “I was already making blowguns, but I was really interested in trying to make the river cane flutes, so I just kept trying to make them and after probably a hundred of them, every flute I made would make a sound. Every time I made a flute I would have to tune it up, so it gave me a lot of practice,” he said. “I enjoyed it so much, and it became the strongest tradition that helped me help my family and promote our heritage.” In 2013, Wildcat was named a Cherokee National Treasure for his flute making, which remains one of his proudest accomplishments. The title is bestowed to CN citizens who have dedicated their lives to teaching, mentoring and advocating traditional Cherokee arts. As a way to fund his travels, he began selling cassette tapes of his music, which later transitioned to CDs. Soon individuals and businesses were requesting his CDs, and within the first year Wildcat sold 10,000 CDs. For “Donadagohv’i,” his eighth CD, Wildcat dedicated it to his late father, Cherokee National Treasure Tom Webber Wildcat, and his mother, Annie Wildcat. He said the title is his thank you to his family and friends for their love and support. “Donadagohv’i, which means I’ll see you again, is my personal wado (thank you) to all my family and friends that helped me from my very my first venue and small venues to the big venues.” Wildcat’s family and friends inspired each song on “Donadagohv’i.” He said he titled the songs after Cherokee words and phrases that have significant meaning to him. “I’ve titled my songs after Cherokee words that are used throughout our Cherokee-speaking communities, which is something I wanted to really promote. Inspiration is in our Cherokee words, like my song ‘Osda,’ which means much more than good or fine. When our elders tell our young people osda it inspires them that they did good or something about them is great,” he said. Wildcat said he wants to perform and compose music as long as he can, but it’s also important the younger generations take initiative to keep traditional music alive. “It’s very important to me and our heritage that the next generation continue on with the pride we always have had in our parents, grandparents, ancestors, with flute music and all of our music.” “Donadagohv’i” can be purchased at the Cherokee Nation, Cherokee Heritage Center, Hard Rock Hotel & Casino and Roland Casino gift shops or by ordering directly from Wildcat via Facebook.
BY STACIE GUTHRIE
Reporter – @cp_sguthrie
12/04/2017 08:15 AM
PARK HILL, Okla. – Cherokee Heritage Center genealogists Gene Norris and Ashley Vann agree that knowing one’s genealogy is important for various reasons such as giving people a look into their ancestors’ lives, bringing light to certain traits or even genetic illnesses or diseases. “The importance of genealogy is finding out who your family is, and that’s the baseline of any genealogy regardless what minority that you may find within the research,” Vann said. Common questions that arise when beginning genealogical research are people wanting to know from whom and where they come, Vann said. “The aspect of genealogy most people are into, the knowing of ‘where do I come from? What are the quirks that that ancestors is? What makes me, me?’ I see a lot of people do that, especially on television because they will start revealing their family genealogy and maybe a special eye effect,” she said. “Maybe they have two different colors of eyes and they realize that’s passed down from generation to generation.” Norris, who began conducting genealogy research 35 years ago, said one thing that interested him about researching his ancestors were the “connections” he found. “My mom was adopted at 3, so I didn’t know my birth uncles until later. Turned out one was an artist, and I like to do art. So, you know...there’s also (these) kind of connections you find with these ancestors and those are what fascinated me,” he said. “I think that’s why you should get into genealogy is because of that reason, of wanting to know more about who they were, where they came from, not to have a specific purpose in mind.” As for diseases or illnesses passed down genetically, Norris said he learned a commonality between a client’s great-grandfather and father’s deaths. “I got on Ancestry (.com) and started looking at these records. They were in Texas. They weren’t here at the time of Dawes (Rolls). But I came across a Texas death certificate of her great-grandfather, and when I printed that off for her she saw the cause of death, and that is what her dad had died from and she got very emotional about it because she didn’t realize that it was genetic,” he said. “A lot of people don’t realize that, but for her to actually see it there in print, in front of her, it made her step back and she had that ‘ah ha’ moment and got very emotional about it.” Although Norris and Vann have strong interests in genealogy, that’s not the case for everyone. Norris said his interest stemmed from a fascination with history. “It’s interesting that in regards to genealogy that those that are into genealogy, that are really into it, usually are the only one in their immediate family that is interested in it. The reason behind that, I do not have any idea,” he said. “For me, history is very fascinating. Not just family history, but general history and learning about who our ancestors were in a sense of what they did on a daily basis, where they came from. Try to flesh them out, so to speak, where they’re not just a name and a date on a piece of paper.” For more information, call 918-456-6007 or visit <a href="http://www.cherokeeheritage.org" target="_blank">cherokeeheritage.org</a>.
BY STAFF REPORTS
11/27/2017 04:00 PM
CATOOSA, Okla. – Cherokee National Treasures will be signing copies of a book about themselves from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino on Dec. 1. The signing is scheduled for the Cherokee Gift Shop inside the casino. Treasures will sign the recently released “Cherokee National Treasures: In Their Own Words,” which can be purchased for $49.99. The book gives readers an opportunity to get to know each Cherokee National Treasure through their own stories and what motivates them to teach and carry on Cherokee language and traditions. The Cherokee National Treasure award was established in 1988 by the tribe and Cherokee National Historical Society. To date, the tribe has awarded 94 CN citizens the honor of Cherokee National Treasure to those who have shown exceptional knowledge of Cherokee art and culture. Those selected actively work to preserve and revive traditional cultural practices that are in danger of being lost from generation to generation. The CN published the book with Pamela Jumper Thurman and Cherokee National Treasure Shawna Morton Cain serving as editors. Cherokee National Treasures Kathryn Kelley, Betty Jo Smith, Lorene Drywater, Dorothy Ice, Al Herrin, Bessie Russell, Edith Catcher Knight, Thelma Vann Forrest, Durbin Feeling, Donald Vann and Betty Christie Frogg served on the Cherokee National Treasures Book Review Board. To buy a copy, visit any CN gift shop or <a href="http://www.cherokeegiftshop.com" target="_blank">www.cherokeegiftshop.com</a>. Copies can also be purchased at most major book stores and online at <a href="http://www.amazon.com" target="_blank">www.amazon.com</a>.
BY KENLEA HENSON
Reporter
11/22/2017 08:00 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Fewer and fewer Cherokee people are speaking their native language, and the Cherokee Nation is losing elder speakers each year, so a monthly gathering of speakers is important for keeping the language alive, Cherokee Speakers Bureau officials said. On Nov. 9, the CSB held a gathering for Cherokee speakers in the Tsa-La-Gi Community Meeting Room for lunch, fellowship and to speak Cherokee. The CSB formed in 2007 to give Cherokee speakers an opportunity to speak the language with others. Ten years later, the CSB continues to be important for the language’s preservation. “This event is very important because we don’t get to talk in Cherokee very much anymore because like places where we work not all co-workers can speak it. So this event allows us to all come together to speak the language,” Kathy Sierra, CN Cherokee Language Program assistant, said. “I come to speak Cherokee, to see all my friends and just be together, you know. One of my speaker friends works at (W.W.) Hastings (Hospital) so we don’t get to see each other and speak Cherokee until this event.” Along with speaking Cherokee and having lunch, the event consists of storytelling, singing, community reports and word translation. CN translator specialist Dennis Sixkiller, who serves as the meetings’ facilitator, said attending the CSB and talking with other Cherokee speakers has refreshed his memory of the language. “I was kind of forgetting how to say some things in Cherokee. But from having a job (at Cherokee Nation) and being around people at the Speakers Bureau that speak Cherokee has really helped my language,” he said. “I just visited with a guy I grew up with, and a few years back I probably couldn’t talk to him in as much Cherokee as I did today, so it really has helped me out, and I really enjoy it.” For CN translator specialist Bonnie Kirk keeping the language alive is “crucial.” She said not only is it important for the older speakers to keep speaking the language, but it’s also important to teach others so CSB meetings continue. “I think right now it’s crucial to carry on the language that the Creator gave us. If we don’t, it’s going to be a lost art. We are fighting to keep that culture and teach our kids to speak Cherokee because if we don’t it’s going to be an end to a lot of our culture and to events like this,” she said. “This is our tenth year, and to this day we try to spread the word to different communities, and hopefully it will continue a long time because we really enjoy seeing each other once a month and speaking Cherokee with each other, and I hope that for the next generations, too.” Although the CSB is designated for Cherokee speakers anyone is welcome to attend, but only Cherokee is spoken. “We have a lot of students from different areas that just sit and listen, so everyone is welcome,” Kirk said. The next CSB meeting will be held from 12:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Dec. 14 in the same meeting room. For more information, call Roy Boney Jr. at 918-453-5487.
BY KENLEA HENSON
Reporter
11/20/2017 08:00 AM
GROVE, Okla. – Nearly 100 descendants and friends gathered for a memorial ceremony on Oct. 28 at Snell Cemetery to honor three Trail of Tears survivors. The Oklahoma Chapter of the Trail of Tears Association honored Johnaky Snell, Akie (Sharp) Silversmith and Ahnawake “Annie” (Spirit) Snell. The biography of each survivor was read and metal plaques were attached to their headstones. The plaques read: “In honor of one who endured the forced removal of the Cherokees in 1838-39.” It also includes the Cherokee Nation and TOTA seals. “We are marking the graves of people who came on the forced removal from the East. I think it is very appropriate that we remember the people that came so we don’t forget the forced removal and what they did by enduring the Trail of Tears and if they had not done that we would not be here. One of the purposes we mark graves is to let people know this is their ancestor that came on the forced removal and to bring them together as a family,” National TOTA President Jack Baker said. In 1993, TOTA formed to aid the National Parks Service in “protecting and preserving” the Trail of Tears routes, which Congress recognized as a national historical trail in 1987. In 1996, nine state TOTA chapters were organized in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Missouri, North Carolina, Tennessee and Oklahoma. Oklahoma Chapter member David Hampton said each state chapter works on projects, mostly locating and marking trail segments. However, because the removal trails ended at the Arkansas border, the Oklahoma Chapter didn’t have trails to mark. “Since the Trail generally ended at the Arkansas border and people disbanded when people got into the Cherokee Nation, the Oklahoma Chapter picked marking the graves as one of its projects from the very beginning, so we have been doing that over the last 18 years,” Hampton said. The Oklahoma Chapter has marked 153 graves in the CN and is looking for more Trail survivors, as well as accepting applications from people wanting ancestors’ graves marked. “We have specific criteria of what a Trail of Tears survivor is. It started after the roundup in May 1838. If you came (to Indian Territory, now Oklahoma) before that we are currently not marking those people’s graves. They (survivors) also came on a Cherokee detachment that disbanded in early 1839,” Hampton said. “We verify if they’re eligible, and if there are other people in that same cemetery that are eligible…we mark them, too.” Steven Snell, of Grove, attended the ceremony with his family to honor Johnaky Snell. “I didn’t realize my heritage going back to the Trail of Tears actually had people buried here in this cemetery. It’s just really nice they’re being recognized like this and being shown some respect,” he said. Bob Fields, of Diamond, Missouri, attended to honor his great-great grandmother Akie (Sharp) Silversmith. He read her biography during the ceremony. “I appreciate the Trail of Tears Association for doing this. It was a good ceremony, and I am glad they did it to recognize her life and her endearment on the Trail of Tears and the fact that she got through it. She would have never thought of her family would be here over a hundred years after she died, so I think that’s pretty good deal,” Fields said. LeeAnn Dreadfulwater, of Park Hill, read the biography of her great-great-great grandmother Ahnawake “Annie” (Spirit) Snell. “I think it’s a wonderful honor. She was just a little girl when she was on the Trail coming with all her brothers and sisters and her family. I can’t imagine what she must of seen, encountered and endured. It makes me really proud to come from someone like that who went on to live a really incredible life, a very full life where she was able to make a good home in a new land and to live into the new century, which must have been really incredible, too,” Dreadfulwater said. To nominate an ancestor who survived the Trail of Tears, mail a request to Oklahoma TOTA Chapter President Curtis Rohr at 24880 S. 4106 Road, Claremore, OK, 74019 or call 918-341-4689. <strong>Johnaky Snell</strong> Johnaky Snell was born about 1826 in Cherokee Nation East, most likely on Shooting Creek in what is present-day Clay County, North Carolina. His father was Goo-tah-skah, also known as Pickup in English, and his mother was Wah-li-sah. He had four known siblings or half siblings: Ah-to-he, Oo-yi-yah-sah-nah-ske, Lah-chi-le and Kah-se. As a young man, he endured the forced removal to the west in a currently unknown detachment. On July 25, 1865, he married a Cherokee, Katy Schrimsher. They were parents of eight children surviving to adulthood: Jane (Snell) Bushyhead, Ida (Snell) Six Mitchell Scraper, Lulu (Snell) Gourd, Joe Coon Snell, Charles Snell, Alexander Snell, Nona (Snell) O’Fields and Nancy Snell, as well as one daughter who died in infancy, Mary Snell. During the Civil War, Johnaky served in the Union Army in Company H of the Second Indian Home Guard. After the war he returned to his farm near the Honey Creek area in what is present-day Delaware County, Oklahoma. He died on July 4, 1902, and was buried in the Snell Cemetery. <strong>Akie Sharp Silversmith</strong> Akie Sharp was born about 1829 in Cherokee Nation East. She was the oldest of four children to Ah-ne-kah-yah, also know as “Sharp” in English, and Nancy. As a young girl, Akie and her family were forced on the removal west in the Oldfields/Forman detachment, which left the East on Oct. 10, 1838, and arrived on Feb. 2, 1839. The family then settled in what became the Delaware District of Cherokee Nation, present-day Delaware County, Oklahoma. By 1851, Akie mothered a daughter by the name Ah-li, who died in childhood. Ah-li’s father was unknown. In 1852, Akie married Albert McGhee, a white man, and the pair had one daughter, Sarah (McGhee) Fields. After separation from Albert, Akie married Wilson Silversmith, a Cherokee. They had two children, John Silversmith and Bettie (Silversmith) Fields. During the Civil War, Wilson died and Akie and her family supported themselves by farming east of Grove in the Delaware District. She died on July 9, 1895, and was buried in Snell Cemetery. <strong>Ahnawake “Annie” (Spirit) Snell</strong> Ahnawake or Annie Spirit was born about 1826 on the Etowah River, Cherokee Nation East, near present-day Rome, Georgia. Her father was known as “The Spirit,” and her mother was Chah-wah-yoo-kah. Annie had three full siblings and two half sisters from her mother’s previous marriage to George Vann. Together the family traveled on the forced removal to the West in the George Hicks detachment, which left the East in September 1838 and arrived in March 1839. Her father was a teamster in the detachment. After arrival, the family initially settled in the Flint District, present-day southern Adair or northern Sequoyah County, Oklahoma. Spirit appears to have died within a few years after removal. In 1848, Annie married Samuel Mayes, a white man. They were parents of Sarah (Mayes) Ballard, Elmira (Mayes) Finn Gladney and William (Penn) Mayes. After the Mayes family moved to the Saline District, near Grand River, Samuel died in 1858. In 1862, Annie married Simon Snell, a Cherokee, who was serving in the Union Army. The pair settled in the Delaware District and had one son, Charles Snell. After Simon’s death in 1877, Annie maintained the farm near Honey Creek. She died on Feb. 20, 1910, and was buried near Simon in Snell Cemetery.