Feather Smith-Trevino explains the game of Cherokee stickball on June 3 during an inaugural tour of the new Diligwa village at the Cherokee Heritage Center in Park Hill, Okla. In the background, villagers demonstrate how the game is played. WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
CHC officially opens Diligwa village
University of Georgia professors Jace Weaver, left, and Alfie Vick speak on June 3 during a grand opening ceremony for the new Diligwa village at the Cherokee Heritage Center in Park Hill, Okla. Vick holds a river cane plant brought from Georgia that will be planted in the village. WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
PARK HILL, Okla. – With speeches, a ribbon cutting and tours, Cherokee Nation and Cherokee Heritage Center officials on June 3 publicly opened Diligwa, the center’s new outdoor Cherokee village set in 1710.
Located on the CHC’s grounds, Diligwa provides guests with an enhanced experience of authentic Cherokee life and history. Alfie Vick, a University of Georgia professor whose specialty is landscape architecture, helped design Diligwa.
“This is the most historically accurate recreation of an early contact Cherokee town in existence today,” Vick said.
Because of his study in Cherokee heritage plants in the southeast, Vick was asked to help landscape the Diligwa grounds. He said orchards of peach, apple and plum trees would be planted in the village as well as communal cornfields and a river cane break along the village stream, which is being constructed.
Funding for the village did not arrive all at once. Cherokee Nation Businesses recently donated $250,000 to finish the $1.2 million interpretive village. The village took five years to design and work crews have spent two years constructing Cherokee summer and winter homes on four acres. Other features such as plants, a ball game area, marble field and paths still need to be completed.
Diligwa features 19 wattle and daub structures and 14 interpretive stations. Visitors can witness Cherokee life in 1710 as they are guided through the stations where crafts are demonstrated, stories are told and life ways are explained.
Overall, the village includes eight residential sites each with summer and winter homes, a corncrib and a kitchen garden. The public complex consists of the primary council house and summer council pavilion overlooking a large plaza that serves as the center of community activity.
Jace Weaver, director of the Institute of Native American Studies at the University of Georgia, said he and Vick have brought students to the CHC to learn about Cherokee culture for the past six years. During that time Weaver said he and Vick were asked to assist with creating Diligwa.
“I was thrilled and immediately said yes without asking Alfie because I first went through the Tsa-La-Gi (Cherokee) village at 10 years old...and have been back many times since,” Weaver said.
The two men were also involved with helping find the original footprint of the Cherokee Female Seminary, which burned down in 1887, and with an exhibition about the seminary.
The seminary site was reclaimed in 1966 when the clearing of land began for the CHC’s Ancient Village, which opened in 1967. The center’s amphitheater opened in 1969 and museum in 1973.
This year the center is celebrating the 50th anniversary of when the Cherokee National Historical Society, the organization that operates the CHC, was formed in 1963.
“Of all the projects the Institute of Native American Studies at the University of Georgia has taken on around the country, these projects with the Cherokee Nation and the Heritage Center are those I am the most proud of,” Weaver said. “We stand ready to help with any project in the Nation at any time.”
Vick said a Diligwa feature that accentuates accuracy is that it sits on a flat area, as Cherokee villages sitting near a river or flood plain would have been in the early 1700s. Also, the village’s council house is on a slightly elevated mound because Cherokees emulated Mississippian mound builders in the southeast.
“Like Jace said, we really value our participation and inclusion in the creation of this town,” Vick said.
Diligwa is a name derivative of Tellico, a village in the east that was once the principal Cherokee town and is now underwater. Tellico was the Cherokee Nation capital and center of commerce before the emergence of Echota in today’s Monroe County, Tenn.
Tellico was often referred to as the “wild rice place” and became synonymous with a native grain that grew in the flats of east Tennessee. Many believe when the Cherokees arrived in Indian Territory, the native grasses that grew around the foothills of the Ozarks reminded them of the grassy areas of Tellico. They called their new home “Di li gwa,” Tah-le-quah or Teh-li-co, “the open place where the grass grows.”
Since the Ancient Village opened, it has been the top attraction for visitors. It is expected Diligwa will continue to be the main attraction for the CHC.
Diligwa was funded by endowments from CNB, the Tom J. and Edna Mae Carson Foundation, Mary K. Chapman Foundation, Boyd Group and Mary Ellen Meredith.
MARIETTA, Ga. – The Cherokee Garden at Green Meadows Preserve, a Cobb County Park, was recently selected as a featured site for the 2016 Atlanta Science Festival.
The Cherokee Garden is an interpretive site on the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail that showcases plants that the Cherokee used for medicine, food, shelter, weapons, tools, art and ceremonial purposes.
Tony Harris, a Cherokee Nation citizen and vice president of the Georgia Trail of Tears, led the participants through the garden and explained the historic importance of the medicinal plants. The emphasis was on ethno-botany, the study of plants significant to an ethnic group, in this case the Cherokee.
The participants not only had many questions about the medicinal plants but also about The Trail of Tears, Harris said.
Emory University, Georgia Tech University, Georgia State University, Mercer University, Delta Airlines, UPS and the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce support the Atlanta Science Festival. More than 45,000 people attended more than 140 events featured in the festival last year. At the end of the seven-day festival there was an Exploration Expo at the Centennial Olympic Park in Atlanta attended by more than 17,000 people.
The mission of the festival is to celebrate the integration of science, technology, engineering and mathematics in people’s lives today.
Harris said that the inclusion of the Cherokee Garden in the Atlanta Science Festival was an excellent opportunity to showcase the Cherokee knowledge of botany and their dependence upon medicinal plants for survival.
PARK HILL, Okla. – The Cherokee Heritage Center is presenting a series of cultural classes designed to preserve and promote traditional Cherokee art. The Saturday workshops will take place once a month and will provide a hands-on learning opportunity with traditional art forms.
Registration is open for Cherokee National Treasure Tonia Weavel’s pucker toe moccasins class on May 7 and Cherokee Nation citizen Wade Blevins’ Southeastern iconography class on June 4.
Both classes are from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and cost $40 to participate with all materials being provided.
Class sizes are limited so early registration is recommended.
For more information or to RSVP, call 918-456-6007, ext. 6161 or email <a href="mailto: firstname.lastname@example.org">email@example.com</a>.
The CHC is located at 21192 S. Keeler Dr.
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – When it comes to basketry, Cherokee Nation citizen Mike Dart has had an interest in the art since childhood. In his teen years, he learned to create baskets, and as an adult he’s won awards, his most recent coming at the 45th annual Trail of Tears Art Show.
He said that award-winning basket is titled “The Burdens We Carry” and was inspired by a photo.
“It was a traditional utilitarian burden basket, which a long time ago our ancestors wore those on their back, and they use those to carry items from one place to another and to store things in sometimes. They wore a tumpline around their shoulders, carried it on their backs,” he said. “I got the inspiration from a picture. I didn’t use a pattern. I just used this picture of a basket that was on the back of a Cherokee lady in North Carolina back in the early 1900s.”
He said he’s been entering art shows ever since the Trial of Tears Art Show in 2006. “I didn’t win nothing that year. I didn’t win nothing for a couple of years, but I did sale both of my entries the first night of that show. That was very encouraging.”
After a few years, he began winning, including first place in the 18th annual Cherokee Homecoming Art Show and Sale, second place in the 2015 Chickasaw Nation Artesian Art Festival and two third place awards in the 2015 Five Civilized Tribes Museum’s Art Under the Oaks Competitive Show.
Dart said he became interested by watching his grandmother makes baskets.
“My grandmother on my dad’s side wove baskets, and she built furniture out of willow and hickory and other native materials. The kinds of baskets that she made were not specifically Cherokee baskets. They were a little bit different, but I remember watching her whenever I was a young kid and just being fascinated how she would get that stuff to bend in these shapes,” he said. “Then, whenever I would try it, it would always break and I never could understand until after I got older and I realized that it was the water that keep it from breaking. And that’s just something that fascinated me that something as simple as water could keep something from breaking and keep it beautiful.”
He said he learned to weave in 1993 while in a high school class taught by Cherokee National Treasure Shawna Morton Cain.
“She taught basketry, had different people come in and teach pottery, mask making, other traditional arts,” he said. “Basketry, I just took to that really well, and it was something that I wanted to do because it was something that my grandma had done.”
Dart said he makes contemporary baskets but recently delved into traditional Cherokee baskets, getting ideas from old photos. He said basketry has survived the years and he hopes it continues to prosper, especially with the younger generations.
“Basketry, some people might argue with me, but I really feel like it is probably the oldest continuing art form that we have that has continued in some form non-stop since pre-contact. Other things have kind of weaned off and then people revived them but you know, basketry has continued somehow both in North Carolina and here in Oklahoma. It’s evolving, but it does continue,” he said. “There’s not very many young weavers weaving right now. Right now it’s flourishing here in Oklahoma, but here in another 20 years it could possibly be in serious danger.”
Dart said to combat this he is offering to teach Cherokee youths age 13 to 24 to weave for free.
“I would like to get a group of at least five to 10 together and we will, depending on where their location is, try to find a centralized location. I’d like their parents to be there and involved as well just to keep everything on the up and up,” he said. “It’s something I would really like to see young people take an interest in. I’m one of the youngest and I’m almost 40.”
For more information, email <a href="mailto: firstname.lastname@example.org">email@example.com</a>.
<strong>Best of category</strong>
18th annual Cherokee Homecoming Art Show: Contemporary Basketry
45th annual Trail of Tears Art Show: Basketry
18th annual Cherokee Homecoming Art Show
45th annual Trail of Tears Art Show
2007 Five Civilized Tribes Museum’s Art Under the Oaks Competitive Show
43rd annual Trail of Tears Art Show
2015 Chickasaw Nation Artesian Art Festival
Second annual Cherokee National Holiday Art Show
2015 Five Civilized Tribes Museum’s Art Under the Oaks Competitive Show: Contemporary
2015 Five Civilized Tribes Museum’s Art Under the Oaks Competitive Show: Traditional
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Remember the Removal Alumni Association hosted its first gathering on April 15 at Northeastern State University. The association is made up of cyclists who partook in past “Remember the Removal” rides that commemorate the removal of Cherokee people from their southeastern homelands.
The rides are held annually in June and began in 1984 when 19 cyclists left Cherokee, North Carolina, and rode approximately 1,100 miles through six states to Oklahoma to bring attention to the 1838-39 removal and to get Trail of Tears routes marked.
After a 25-year hiatus, the ride returned in 2009 and cyclists left from New Echota, Georgia, the former Cherokee Nation capital, to ride to Oklahoma. In 2011, cyclists from the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians began joining CN cyclists to retrace the 950-mile northern route of the Trail of Tears.
During the April 15 banquet, which the Oklahoma Trail of Tears Association sponsored, alumni riders shared a meal and visited.
Alumni riders David Comingdeer, who rode in 2011, and Tress Lewis, who rode in the inaugural 1984 trip, spoke about their experiences and what the ride meant to them.
Comingdeer said he spoke for himself and two of his children, who rode in 2011.
“The main things I wanted to convey to the attendees today was the responsibility we have as individual Cherokee citizens to perpetuate our beliefs, our traditions and our history. The thing we have in common as riders is that we have a unique perspective on that route. We have a very unique perspective on the forced removal story. We have felt that trail beneath us,” he said.
He said the ride pays respect to those who walked the trail and those who did not survive it. He said Cherokee people should ensure that this history is not forgotten and that it’s passed down in families.
“I would also encourage young people to participate in this ride in the future and continue paying this tribute, which this is the most extraordinary way we can pay tribute to the people who perished on this route,” he said.
Lewis said she wanted people to know that the 1984 group became family during its month-long ride.
“I was a little backward and a little shy, and that trip, because it was a hard trip, it really pushed all of us, and we really had to come together as a team, work together and help each other. Because it pushed us we found out right away that we could be pushed...and that as long as we worked together and did become a family, we were strengthened,” Lewis said. “We became people we didn’t know we were. I am a natural leader. I don’t think I would have ever found that out had I not been on that trip. That’s amazing to me, the strength that’s in me that I didn’t know I had, and I think that’s true for all the riders on that trip.”
Melissa Lewis, assistant professor at the University of Minnesota Medical School in Duluth, presented the results of her study about the “Remember the Removal” ride and its effects on the riders from 1984 to 2015.
She said she discovered 84 themes that riders from both groups, who rode 31 years apart, talked about.
“They’re all amazing. I could write several books about the amazing accomplishments of these riders,” she said. “Some of the things that stick out for me the most are how this program not only taught the participants how to treat each other like family, how to help each other out, how to be there for each other, but it translated to their real lives.”
She said by talking to the 1984 group she learned about “amazing changes” in the lives of the participants they attributed to the “Remember the Removal” program and its leadership component. “People were able to get into leadership positions in their jobs. Many of them decided to work for the (Cherokee) Nation. Many of them decided to work with Cherokee kids or Native American kids in particular, and they’re really strong members of their communities and strong members of their families.”
National Trail of Tears Association President and Tribal Councilor Jack Baker attended the event to present awards to the 1984 riders.
“I think the ‘Remember the Removal’ project is a very important project. We see the (19)84 riders, and they’ve been leaders in the Cherokee Nation,” Baker said. “That’s why I foresee, all of you that have been on the ride, that you will be coming back and giving back to the Cherokee Nation because it’s really a training in leadership and you understand what our ancestors went through and you understand what it is to be Cherokee, and therefore you are willing to give back to the Cherokee Nation and the Cherokee people.”
For more information about the alumni association, call Tennessee Loy at 918-864-6377 or email <a href="mailto: RtrAlumniAssociation@gmail.com">RtrAlumniAssociation@gmail.com</a>.
PARK HILL, Okla. – A group of filmmakers visited the Cherokee Heritage Center in early March to interview descendants, as well as those involved with the Cherokee language program, about Sequoyah, the creator of the Cherokee written language.
Choctaw Nation citizen and filmmaker LeAnne Howe and James Fortier, Pic River Ojibway First Nation citizen and filmmaker, are co-producing the documentary on the life of Sequoyah.
“So we’re all Indian working together to make this documentary film,” said Howe. “We’re all very excited to be here.”
The working title for the film is “Searching for Sequoyah.” Those involved with the project said that with Sequoyah, there are just so many mysteries and that he is a fascinating subject. The documentary will include “modern-day Sequoyahs” who work daily at preserving and strengthening the Cherokee language.
United Keetoowah Band citizen Sequoyah Guess spoke to the Cherokee Phoenix about the importance of the filmmakers reaching out to decedents.
“It’s one of the few times that they have actually come to the families and asked these different questions, you know, about Sequoyah,” Guess, a Cherokee and descendent of Sequoyah, said.
For more information regarding the project, email Jace Weaver at firstname.lastname@example.org.
PARK HILL, Okla. – Cherokee Nation citizen and artist Troy Jackson won the 45th annual Trail of Tears Art Show and Sale grand prize during a reception and awards ceremony on April 8 at the Cherokee Heritage Center.
“I entered in the sculpture category,” Jackson said. “My piece is titled ‘Building of a Nation.’ One of the things that inspired me…we’re at a time where our country is going to elect a new president. So I think sometimes of what it takes to build a nation and for a nation to survive.”
Jackson has entered the show 10 years and this year marks the fourth time he has won the grand prize.
He said the show is important for remembering Cherokee traditions while embracing the present.
“Maybe we don’t necessarily live the way we did years ago, but we still need to pass it on to our children about the way things were so we never forget,” he said. “I think it’s also a good time for artists such as myself to be doing contemporary work because we can also be showing what is being done and how we live today.”
The Trail of Tears Art Show is touted as the longest-running Native American art show in Oklahoma. It is open to any federally recognized tribal citizen.
“It’s a special show because it’s juried,” CHC Curator Callie Chunestudy said. “We really try to pick the best of the best artists from the entire country and display their work and award them accordingly.”
Chunestudy said there were 80 artists from 15 tribes with 144 art pieces entered and 130 being accepted. She said the awards total more than $15,000 in cash prizes each year. The Trail of Tears Art Show and Sale runs through May 7.
<strong>Trail of Tears Art Show winners</strong>
GRAND PRIZE – Troy Jackson, Cherokee Nation, “The Building of a Nation”
Painting, First Place – Dan HorseChief, Cherokee Nation, “The Firecatcher”
Sculpture, First Place – Matt Girty, Cherokee Nation, “Spring Forward Awohali”
Basketry, First Place – Mike Dart, Cherokee Nation, “The Burdens We Carry”
Pottery, First Place – Chase Earles, Caddo Nation, “Kahwis Kan Duck Pot”
Trail of Tears, First Place – John “Walkabout” Owen, Cherokee Nation, “Leaving Grandoma on the Trail”
Jewelry, First Place – Antonio Grant, Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, “Joined Birds”
Graphics, First Place – Diana Stanfill, Cherokee Nation, “Wes Studi”
Miniature, First Place – Ronda Moss, Cherokee Nation, “Treasures Within Us”
Bill Rabbit Legacy Award – Shan Goshorn, Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, “The Fire Within”
Emerging Artists, First Place – Sheila Brazil, Cherokee Nation, “A Guardian for the Journey”
Betty Garner Elder Award – Bessie Russell, Cherokee National Treasure
Awards for the Cherokee Art Market Youth Competition were also announced. The competition showcased work from Native youth in grade 6-12.
<strong>Cherokee Art Market Youth Competition Show</strong>
BEST OF SHOW – Cierra Fields, Cherokee Nation, “Chief’s Honoring Robe”
Judges Choice, Grades 6-8 – Sydney Sawney, Cherokee Nation, “Across the Fire”
Two Dimensional, First Place, Grades 6-8 – Jaedyn Poulick, Cherokee Nation, “Red Dressed Indian”
Three Dimensional, First Place, Grades 6-8 – Tanner Williams, Cherokee Nation, “Shield of the Nation”
Judges Choice, Grades 9-10 – Noah Wilson, United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians, “Dark Starry Night”
Two Dimensional, First Place, Grades 9-10 – Kylee Osburn, Cherokee Nation, “Arabic Woman”
Three Dimensional, First Place, Grades 9-10 – Trey Pruitt, Cherokee Nation, “Dagsi Wants to Play”
Judges Choice, Grades 11-12 – Jana Yarborough, Cherokee Nation, “The Bird of Nature”
Two Dimensional, First Place, Grades 11-12 – TeAnna Woodrome, Choctaw Nation, “Nuni”
Three Dimensional, First Place, Grades 11-12 – Cierra Fields, Cherokee Nation, “Chief’s Honoring Robe”