CHC to present J.B. Milam exhibition

BY STAFF REPORTS
10/04/2012 09:35 AM
PARK HILL, Okla. – The Cherokee Heritage Center will present the J.B. Milam exhibition from Oct. 15 through Dec. 31 to honor the legacy of the former Cherokee Nation principal chief, businessman and father.

Jesse Bartley Milam, commonly known as J.B., served as principal chief from 1941 to his passing in 1949. Milam is one of eight chiefs appointed by the president of the United States. These “principal chiefs,” many holding the title for only a day, signed documents and performed other pro forma (pure formality) duties as required by the federal government.

Milam was born in Texas in 1884 to William Guinn Milam and Sara Ellen Couch, who was a member of the Long Hair Clan. In 1887, the Milam family moved to the CN in Indian Territory where they farmed and ranched. The family later moved to Chelsea in what is now Rogers County, in 1893, where William opened a hardware store.

Jesse was educated at the Cherokee Male Seminary and then the Metropolitan Business College in Dallas. When he returned home, he went to work for the Bank of Chelsea where his father was vice president. He married Elizabeth Peach McSpadden in 1904. Four years later, he, his brother James and his father bought the controlling interest in the Bank of Chelsea. Jesse became bank president in 1915.

In 1947, along with a goal of restoring the tribal government, Milam had goals of preserving Cherokee heritage and pursuing Cherokee claims. He actively researched Cherokee history and culture and legal issues affecting the tribe. He also was involved in cultural, historical and ceremonial activities.

In the 1920s, Milam underwrote the expenses of writer Emmet Starr who wrote several books on the Cherokee, including the “Early History of the Cherokees.” Milam also did extensive research on the life of Sequoyah and financed an expedition into Mexico to find Sequoyah’s burial place.

He located the original mold for the Cherokee syllabary and began working to get the print type made again with a goal of publishing materials in the syllabary. He also pursued the establishment of Cherokee language classes in area schools and universities.

On May 8, 1949, at 65 years old, he died in Kansas City, Mo. Many of the goals Milam had pursued for the tribe as principal chief went unfinished, but some were picked up by later chiefs and completed.

The Milam exhibition will be shown from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Saturday. Admission is $8.50 per adult (19 and older), $7.50 per senior (55 and older) and college students with proper identification, $5 per child (5-18 years old) and free per child (4 and under) with paid adult. Admission price includes all attractions. Entry to the grounds and museum store are free.

The show features 113 traditional and contemporary Cherokee artworks.

For more information, call 1-888-999-6007 or email info@cherokeeheritage.org or visit www.cherokeeheritage.org.

Culture

BY STAFF REPORTS
06/24/2016 08:00 AM
PARK HILL, Okla. – The Cherokee Heritage Center is conducting its “Threads of Time” exhibit until Aug. 20 and showcase Cherokee clothing from ancient history to modern day apparel. According to a Cherokee Nation Communications press release, the evolution of Cherokee clothing is more than just a historical record of what was worn throughout time. “It shares the story of identity, resiliency, adaptability, history and culture of the Cherokee people,” the release states. Dr. Candessa Tehee, CHC executive director, said that Cherokee clothing represents a beautiful balance as it embraces practical components of society at large. “While maintaining cultural identity,” she said. “Each piece communicates a different part of our history and culture while giving us a unique perspective at Cherokee lifestyles throughout the years.” According to the release, Cherokee artisans carry on the tradition of creating Cherokee clothing, as their tribal identity continues to be an important part of life. Cherokee artists make traditional style clothing and create new themes that maintain and promote identity. “Cherokee clothing has long been both practical as well as beautiful,” Callie Chunestudy, CHC curator, said. “Through this exhibit we are able to share the evolution of Cherokee textiles and provide valuable insight to how and why some of the progression took place.” The CHC is located at 21192 S. Keeler Drive.
BY TESINA JACKSON
Reporter,
WILL CHAVEZ
Senior Reporter – @cp_wchavez &
JAMI MURPHY
Senior Reporter – @cp_jmurphy
06/22/2016 03:15 PM
<strong>This is an archive story that the Cherokee Phoenix is publishing on the anniversary of the day that three prominent Cherokees were killed.</strong> DUTCH MILLS, Ark. – On the morning of June 22, 1839, three small bands of Cherokees carried out “blood law” upon Major Ridge, John Ridge and Elias Boudinot – three prominent Cherokees who signed a treaty in 1835 calling for the tribe’s removal to Indian Territory. Tribal Councilor Jack Baker said he believes “blood law” was the basis for the men’s assassinations. “Although they did not follow all of the procedures, I do believe that was the basis for the executions,” Baker said. “I believe the proper procedure should have been followed. They should have been brought to trial and that was not done.” The Cherokee General Council put the law, which had existed for years, into writing on Oct. 24, 1829. According to Thurman Wilkins’ “Cherokee Tragedy,” the law stated “if any citizen or citizens of this Nation should treat and dispose of any lands belonging to this Nation without special permission from the National authorities, he or they shall suffer death; Therefore…any person or persons who shall, contrary to the will and consent of the legislative council of this Nation…enter into a treaty with any commissioner or commissioners of the United States, or any officers instructed for that purpose, and agree to sell or dispose of any part or portion of the National lands defined in this Constitution of this Nation, he or they so offending, upon conviction before any of the circuit judges aforesaid are authorized to call a court for the trial of any such person or persons so transgressing. Be it Further Resolved; that any person or persons, who shall violate the provisions of this act, and shall refuse, by resistance, to appear at the place designated for trial, or abscond, are hereby declared to be outlaws; and any person or persons, citizens of this Nation, may kill him or them so offending, in any manner most convenient…and shall not be held accountable for the same.” It is thought that John Ross Party members carried out this law in the killings of the Ridges and Boudinot. <strong>Major Ridge</strong> He was born in the Cherokee town of Great Hiwassee, later a part of Tennessee. He was initiated as a warrior early and known by several names including Nunnehidihi, meaning “He Who Slays The Enemy In His Path,” and Ganundalegi, which meant “The Man Who Walks On The Mountain Top” or “The Ridge.” He received the name Major while fighting with U.S. Gen. Andrew Jackson at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend during the Creek War in 1814. He used Major as his first name the rest of his life. According to the Oklahoma Historical Society, in the1820s gold sparked a demand to get rid of Cherokee titles to lands within Georgia. “While the federal government tried to create inducements to convince the Southeastern Indians to leave their homes, the discovery of gold in Georgia led to more aggressive demands for immediate removal,” the OHS website states. While Congress debated the issues with removal, several Cherokees negotiated a removal agreement with the United States, according to the OHS. “Major Ridge, a Cherokee planter and soldier, his son John Ridge, and his nephew Elias Boudinot conducted these negotiations with the United States despite the expressed wishes of the majority of their nation. Most Cherokees, including Principal Chief John Ross, protested and tried to stop Ridge and his so-called Treaty Party,” the OHS site states. “On May 28, 1830, while Ridge and his supporters negotiated terms of removal with the United States, Congress passed the Indian Removal Act.” This law provided $500,000 to establish districts west of the Mississippi River, to trade eastern tribal lands for those districts, to compensate the tribes for the cost of their removal and the improvements on their homesteads, and to pay one year’s worth subsistence to those who went west, the website states. Armed with this authority, Andrew Jackson, who was now president, authorized agents to negotiate and enforce treaties. Major and 56 other Cherokees signed the Treaty of New Echota on Dec. 29, 1835. Major, who could not write, made his mark on the treaty. That ultimately led to his death. According to “Cherokee Tragedy,” one of three bands of Cherokees sought to kill Major on the same morning as John Ridge and Elias Boudinot. “Having learned that he had left the previous day for Van Buren (Arkansas), where one of his slaves lay ill, they had followed him down the Line Road. They discovered where he had spent the night, beneath the roof of Ambrose Harnage, at Cincinnati, Arkansas, and they rode ahead to form an ambush,” the book states. Five men hid in the brush of trees where the road crossed White Rock Creek, now Little Branch, near Dutchtown, now known as Dutch Mills. “At ten o’clock, Major Ridge came riding down the highway with a colored boy in attendance. Several rifles cracked. The Ridge slumped in his saddle, his head and body pierced by five bullets,” according to the book. Those thought to have fired upon him were James Foreman, Anderson Springston, Bird Doublehead, Isaac Springton, James Hair and Jefferson Hair. Major’s body was recovered by nearby settlers and buried in a cemetery in what is now Piney, Okla. He was later moved and buried near his home on Honey Creek in northern Delaware County. <strong>John Ridge</strong> John was born in Georgia to Major and Susannah Wickett Ridge in 1802. Growing up, John attended school at the Springplace Mission in Georgia and then Brainerd Mission in Tennessee. In 1819, he went to the Foreign Mission School in Cornwall, Conn., which existed until 1827. While attending the Foreign Mission School, he met his wife, the daughter of the school’s steward, Sarah Bird Northrup. The couple married in 1824. The biracial union caused uproar from the town of Cornwall resulting in John and his wife leaving. According to Robert J. Conley’s “A Cherokee Encyclopedia” later that year, John went with his father and Chief Ross to Washington, D.C. to protest the possible removal of Cherokees from all lands east of the Mississippi River. In 1830, President Jackson pushed his removal bill through Congress and it passed into law. In 1832, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Rev. Samuel Worcester v. Georgia that Georgia’s laws over Cherokee territory were illegal and unconstitutional. It ruled that the Cherokee Nation had sovereign status, however Jackson refused to enforce the ruling in favor of the Cherokees, which caused John to change his position. Feeling that the Cherokees had no other course of action, he began to speak in favor of negotiating a removal treaty with the United States and on Dec. 29, 1835, along with others known as the Ridge Party or Treaty Party, he signed the Treaty of New Echota. Those who signed the treaty were Cherokee Nation citizens but were not elected officials. After signing, he moved with his family to present-day Oklahoma in 1837. The U.S. Senate ratified the treaty and although Chief Ross and others protested it, it led to the removal in 1838-39 known as the Trail of Tears. The U.S. Army began forcing Cherokees and their slaves (for those who had them) out of their homes. On Aug. 23, 1838, the first removal detachment of Cherokees left, and on Dec. 5, 1838, the 13th detachment left. It arrived in Indian Territory on March 18, 1839. Approximately 4,000 Cherokees died along the trail. According to the treaty, Cherokees who wished to remain in the East could do so but would be required to become U.S. citizens by giving up their tribal status, a provision that was ignored during the removal. Because the treaty surrendered all Cherokee land, Ross supporters, the Ross or National Party, regarded the Treaty Party as traitors. On June 22, 1839, John, his father Major and Boudinot were assassinated for having signed the treaty. According to “Cherokee Tragedy,” 25 men reached John’s house in the morning and, while he was still in bed, fired a gun at John’s head. The gun failed to fire. He was then dragged outside and stabbed 26 times in the torso and neck. While still alive, he was then stomped on and kicked, all in front of his wife, mother and son, John Rollin Ridge. John was buried about 150 yards to 500 yards from his home in Polson Cemetery, which is located southeast of Grove, Okla. near the Oklahoma/Missouri state line in Delaware County. <strong>Elias Boudinot</strong> The sentiments among the Cherokee people in June 1839 in Indian Territory could be said were of misery, mistrust and resentment. The last detachment of Cherokees forcibly removed from the East had arrived three months before and they were attempting to rebuild their lives. However, Chief Ross wished to reunite the tribe’s three factions, which lived together in what is now northeastern Oklahoma. He called a meeting at an Illinois River camp ground located a few miles southeast of where Tahlequah now sits, and tried to get the Old Settlers, Cherokees who had settled the territory in the early 1800s, and members of the Treaty Party, Cherokees who had signed away Cherokee lands in the East, to reunite with his party or faction. Boudinot, the Cherokee Phoenix’s first editor, his uncle Major Ridge and Major’s son, John, were members of the Treaty Party. The two smaller factions declined any union with Ross, and the meeting broke up on June 21. Based on an 1890 statement by Allen Ross, John Ross’ son, men who had signed the 1835 Treaty and opposed John Ross as chief caused the anti-union dissention. “After several days of endeavor to get together and having failed, some of the leaders of the emigrants called a secret meeting without the knowledge or consent of my father John Ross at what is now known as Double Springs about four miles northwest of Tahlequah for the purpose of making plans to effect an act of union,” Allen’s statement reads. The discussion turned to the blood law passed by the Cherokee National Council that stated that any Cherokee who agreed or signed an agreement to sell Cherokee lands should forfeit their lives. “Believing that the same men who had made the Treaty of 1835 were responsible for the failure of the Cherokee people to get together, this meeting decided that these three men (Boudinot and the two Ridges) should be executed as provided by the law,” Allen wrote. “The meeting further decided that this meeting must be kept from their chief because he would prevent it as he had once before at Red Clay before their removal.” A committee was appointed to arrange details. Numbers were placed in a hat for each person present. Twelve numbers had an X mark after them, which indicated the executioners. Allen wrote he was not allowed to draw and was tasked to go his father’s home the evening before the executions and to stay with him and if possible keep him from finding out what was being done. According to a letter written on June 26 by Boudinot’s friend and confidant, Rev. Samuel Worcester, Boudinot was living with Worcester at Park Hill near Tahlequah and was building a home about a quarter mile away. Worcester was at the construction site the morning Boudinot was killed. “There he was, last Saturday morning, when some men came up, inquiring for medicine. He set out with them to come and get it and had walked but a few rods when he was heard to shriek, and his hired men, at and near his house ran to his help, but before they could reach the spot, the deed was done,” Worcester wrote. “They seemed to have stabbed Mr. Boudinot in the back with a knife, and then finished their dreadful work with a hatchet, inflicting seven strokes, two or three of which sunk deep into his head. To me he was a dear friend, a most intimate companion, and a most valued helper.” An act of union was formed the next month and the newly formed council pardoned all parties connected with the assassinations of the Ridges and Boudinot. Boudinot is buried in the Worcester Cemetery in Park Hill, about a mile from where the Cherokee Phoenix is published. The three assassinations are thought to have helped form the basis of the July 12, 1839, act of union that brought together the Old Settlers and the Ross and Treaty parties. Baker said Emmet Starr’s “History of the Cherokee Indians and Their Legends and Folklore” states that the Eastern and Western Cherokees came together to form one body politic. This, Baker said, led to the CN constitution two months later.
BY STAFF REPORTS
06/02/2016 12:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Cherokee Arts Center and Spider Gallery in Tahlequah is hosting kids art classes this summer on Tuesdays and Wednesdays through July. The classes vary and begin at 3 p.m. and end at 5 p.m. Children under age 7 must have a parent or guardian present. Each class is $20 or students can sign up for 10 classes and pay $150. In June and July, classes include wax and watercolor, beadwork, I-spy bottles, soapstone pendants, beaded felt patches, tie-dye day, and oil and pastels. Those interested in enrolling can do so by calling 918-453-5728. The art center is located at 215 Water Street in Tahlequah.
BY MARK DREADFULWATER
Multimedia Editor – @cp_mdreadfulwat
06/02/2016 08:15 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Cherokee artist Matthew Girty has sculpted life forms and objects from stone for more than 20 years. In that time, he’s developed into an award-winning artist, most recently winning the Trail of Tears Art Show and Sale’s sculpture category in April. “I’ve won second place in a couple of shows, but I’ve never took first,” he said. “I felt like I got pushed into it. I guess people thought my work was museum quality to go against those guys. I’ve been entering for the last five years and finally this past month, I took first. So that was a big accomplishment for me and my family.” Girty said he believes all Cherokees have some artistic ability and it’s up to them to realize and develop it. “The naturals (artists), they have to practice and practice,” he said. “You’ve also got to have people pushing you. What really helped me, too, is people buying my stuff. I’ve got carvings all over and I don’t know where they are. Everything that I make, it’s made for somebody.” Girty said he started carving from red pipestone. However, he wanted to get away from the Southwestern art style and revive the Southeastern art style after speaking with other Native artists. “I see Indian art doing nothing but getting better,” he said. “There for a while all you saw in the ‘70s and ‘80s was Plains Indian art. So now we’re Southeastern, and now we’re seeing people come out of the woodwork and seeing these beautiful objects that were hidden.” He said he’s been carving full-time for five years. His main medium is soapstone because he wants to bring back the Cherokee way of carving. He said, in Oklahoma, there are carvers who use wood or deer antlers for their materials, but he rarely sees stone carvers. A medium, he said, that he wants to revive and teach others. “When we were pre-Columbus, we had soapstone everywhere,” Girty said. “That is what Cherokees used primarily in ceremonial effigies, for their bowls, dinnerware and jewelry. They made all different kinds of sacred objects that we hold dear to us. They were carvers that made those things. I want to use the same style and the same technique they used a long time ago. The ones who created those pieces years ago are here today in the same bloodline. I wasn’t taught this. I had to practice at it. When we moved here we were limited on our stonework. It seems like now, today, like our language, it’s kind of going. We don’t have anybody out there teaching us. So that’s what I’m wanting to do. I’m wanting to bring this back…and teach the kids.” He said he plans to teach classes so he’s able to pass on his knowledge to future generations. “I know there are other people out there besides me who would enjoy doing this,” he said. “They just need a little teaching. That’s all it took for me. Somebody showed me these stones.” He said it’s taken years of practice and encouragement to make a living as an artist. Although his career isn’t where he wants it, he said he’s “tickled to death” every time a person sees his work and wants to buy it. “Every time I complete a project, I’m rewarded just by seeing it,” he said. “I wouldn’t be doing this if people didn’t want it.”
BY STAFF REPORTS
05/31/2016 04:00 PM
ROSWELL, Ga. – The next meeting of the Georgia Chapter of the Trail of Tears Association will be held at 10:30 a.m. on July 9 at the Chattahoochee Nature Center. The speaker will be TOTA member Lisa Simpson, a retired Fulton County teacher and long-time docent at the Nature Center. Her topic will be the significance of the Hightower Trail. She has spent years researching the trail and the Native Americans who used it. Following her talk, she will lead attendees on a short tour along the trail as it passes through the Nature Center property. A Georgia TOTA business meeting will follow. The center will be open until 5 p.m. The Chattahoochee Nature Center is located on the Chattahoochee River in Roswell and sits on a site comprised of 127 acres of native plants and gardens. It has a River Boardwalk, Discovery Center, wetland demonstration gardens and woodland trails that are home to more than 30 wildlife species. For 37 years, the facility has grown and reached out to citizens as a place to explore ideas and expand the awareness of the natural world. There is no charge to attend the meeting or tour the grounds. There will be a charge to visit the museum on the site if meeting attendees wish to do so. There are also picnic areas available. The Nature Center is located at 9135 Willeo Road. From I-75, take Hwy. 120 (also called Marietta Highway or Upper Roswell Road) east toward the city of Roswell, cross Johnson Ferry Road and travel approximately four miles to Willeo Road. Turn right onto Willeo Road. The CNC is located one mile on the right. The TOTA was created to support the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail established by an act of Congress in 1987. It is dedicated to identifying and preserving sites associated with the removal of Native Americans from the Southeast. The association consists of nine state chapters representing the nine states that the Cherokees and other tribes traveled through on their way to Indian Territory (now Oklahoma). TOTA meetings are free and public, and people need not have Native American ancestry to attend meetings, just an interest and desire to learn more about this period in the country’s history. For more information, visit <a href="http://www.nationaltota.org" target="_blank">www.nationaltota.org</a> or <a href="http://www.gatrailoftears.org" target="_blank">www.gatrailoftears.org</a>. For more information about the meeting, email <a href="mailto: harris7627@bellsouth.net">harris7627@bellsouth.net</a>.
BY STAFF REPORTS
05/26/2016 01:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Cherokee Nation Cultural Tourism will offer a family-friendly storytelling event every Wednesday in June. The program will last one hour and be hosted at 10 a.m. at the gazebo located on the grounds of the Cherokee National Courthouse. Before Sequoyah introduced his “talking leaves” writing system, generations of Cherokees passed down family heritage and culture through the art of storytelling. The general public is now getting a chance to hear these stories, a CN Communications release states. The stories to be featured will be “Opossum’s Tail,” “First Man and First Woman,” “The Medicine Plant” and “How the Turtle Cracked His Shell.” Attendees also receive free admission to the Cherokee National Supreme Court Museum and the Cherokee National Prison Museum, the release states. The Cherokee National Courthouse is located at 129 S. Muskogee Ave. For information on Cherokee Nation Cultural Tourism, including museum operations, call 1-877-779-6977 or visit <a href="http://www.VisitCherokeeNation.com" target="_blank">www.VisitCherokeeNation.com</a>.