http://www.cherokeephoenix.orgMatt Girty, a United Keetoowah Band citizen, helps UKB citizen Ernestine Berry with her soapstone turtle during his Sept. 16 class at the UKB Culture Center in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. Girty’s goal is to get Cherokees carving soapstone art again. STACIE GUTHRIE/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Matt Girty, a United Keetoowah Band citizen, helps UKB citizen Ernestine Berry with her soapstone turtle during his Sept. 16 class at the UKB Culture Center in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. Girty’s goal is to get Cherokees carving soapstone art again. STACIE GUTHRIE/CHEROKEE PHOENIX

Girty teaches others soapstone carving

United Keetoowah Band citizen Ernestine Berry traces an outline of a turtle for a soapstone piece she worked on during UKB artist Matt Girty’s class on Sept. 16 class at the UKB Culture Center in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. The class was Girty’s second soapstone class, and he hopes to have more. STACIE GUTHRIE/CHEROKEE PHOENIX United Keetoowah Band citizen Ernestine Berry saws soapstone with the intention of making a turtle during UKB artist Matt Girty’s Sept. 16 class at the UKB Culture Center in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. STACIE GUTHRIE/CHEROKEE PHOENIX A finished soapstone turtle sits on display for students to view during Matt Girty’s soapstone carving class on Sept. 16 at the United Keetoowah Band’s Culture Center in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. Girty has been carving for approximately 24 years. STACIE GUTHRIE/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
United Keetoowah Band citizen Ernestine Berry traces an outline of a turtle for a soapstone piece she worked on during UKB artist Matt Girty’s class on Sept. 16 class at the UKB Culture Center in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. The class was Girty’s second soapstone class, and he hopes to have more. STACIE GUTHRIE/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
BY STACIE GUTHRIE
Reporter – @cp_sguthrie
10/09/2017 08:15 AM
Video with default Cherokee Phoenix Frame
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – With the hope of teaching more Cherokees soapstone carving, United Keetoowah Band citizen Matt Girty is spreading his knowledge of the ancient art by offering classes in Tahlequah to people willing to learn.

His latest class was on Sept. 16 at the UKB Culture Center, where students gained insight and hands-on experience with soapstone carving.

“My goal was to get more carvers out here because I see a lot of opportunity. So what many people are going to have to do around here is look within their self, look (at) who they are, and most of us out here are Cherokees,” he said. “If I can do it, there’s more out here that can do it. Even if they don’t get seen...then they’ve got a piece of their culture. They can show whoever they want to…so that way it’ll stay alive here within us and not die like it almost has been.”

Girty said he starts his students with creating a turtle.

“This right here is basically to get them to figure out their shapes and to get their hands on soapstone,” he said. “Figure out how to work it, how it feels on your hands.”

As for tools, Girty uses X-Acto knives, files and hacksaws to shape his works.

“I wanted these guys to get the feel of the grass roots of it because that’s how our people did it, not with power tools,” he said. “I want them to get the slow process of it, to get the blocking out and taking off a lot of the object to get to your main goal of making your object piece. So I want them to get used to doing it by hand first before they jump on any power tools.”

By creating stone carved art, Girty said he feels he’s helping keep the art form alive.

“It’s better for me to pass this on because this is all I know how to do that could better our people,” he said. “In my opinion, we should all be able to create beauty and make people smile in everything we do…to keep us going as Cherokee people.”

UKB citizen Ernestine Berry said she is no stranger to the art world, so when she heard about Girty’s class she decided to take it.

“I’m always interested in anything having to do with art,” she said. “I haven’t done stone carving before. I’ve done a little bit of woodcarving. I also have a degree in art for the University in Tulsa. So, I’ve done a little bit of artwork.”

She said Girty is a “good” teacher and thinks what he does, by teaching and preserving the culture, is important.

“I think anything to do with our tradition and our heritage is important to our people,” she said. “It helps us to know who we are. It helps to know where we came from, and it helps us to understand the ancestors and what they went through and the kind of lives that they lived.”

Berry said she encourages anyone interested in preserving Cherokee culture to take Girty’s class.

“It’s an enjoyable thing as well as a learning experience,” she said. “I just encourage anybody who wants to come, to come, because we’re not exclusive here. We accept everybody, Keetoowahs, Cherokee Nation, non-Indians, other tribes, anybody that wants to come.”

So far Girty has taught two classes and hopes to continue teaching, while building upon each one to help students create more advanced pieces.

“I have an idea for you to carve bears. The next class I want you to bring whatever you want to carve and then we can do it,” he said. “Next thing, I have a vision of our old pipe effigies that we used to make. That will be an advanced class because that’s what I’m (personally) doing now is recreating these ceremonial objects.”

Girty hopes to have his next class in either late November or early December.

“I’m here for instruction. Everything I know, it’s no secret,” he said. “I want to show you everything I know, then in turn you go show who you know. Come back and show me what you did, and hopefully you become to be a lot better than I am.”

For more information, find him under Matt Girty on Facebook.
About the Author
Stacie Guthrie started working at the Cherokee Phoenix in 2013 as an intern. After graduating from Northeastern State University with a bachelor’s degree in mass communications she was hired as a reporter.

Stacie not only writes for the Phoenix, but also produces videos and regularly hosts the Cherokee Phoenix radio broadcast.

She found her passion for video production while taking part in broadcast media classes at NSU. It was there she co-created a monthly video segment titled “Northeastern Gaming,” which included video game reviews, video game console reviews and discussions regarding influential video games.

While working at the Phoenix she has learned more about her Cherokee culture, saying she is grateful for the opportunity to work for and with the Cherokee people.

In 2014, Stacie won a NativeAmerican Journalists Association award for a video she created while working as an intern for the Phoenix. She was awarded first place in the “Best News Story-TV” category.

Stacie is a member of NAJA.
stacie-guthrie@cherokee.org • 918-453-5000 ext. 5903
Stacie Guthrie started working at the Cherokee Phoenix in 2013 as an intern. After graduating from Northeastern State University with a bachelor’s degree in mass communications she was hired as a reporter. Stacie not only writes for the Phoenix, but also produces videos and regularly hosts the Cherokee Phoenix radio broadcast. She found her passion for video production while taking part in broadcast media classes at NSU. It was there she co-created a monthly video segment titled “Northeastern Gaming,” which included video game reviews, video game console reviews and discussions regarding influential video games. While working at the Phoenix she has learned more about her Cherokee culture, saying she is grateful for the opportunity to work for and with the Cherokee people. In 2014, Stacie won a NativeAmerican Journalists Association award for a video she created while working as an intern for the Phoenix. She was awarded first place in the “Best News Story-TV” category. Stacie is a member of NAJA.

Culture

BY STAFF REPORTS
12/12/2017 04:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Cherokee Speakers Bureau will be held Thursday December 14, 2017 from 12:30 - 4pm. We will meet in the Community Ballroom that is located behind the Restaurant of the Cherokee. All Cherokee speakers are invited to attend. If you want to bring a side dish or a dessert, feel free to bring it. Come speak Cherokee and enjoy food and fellowship. For further information about the event, please contact: the Language Program at (918) 453-5151; John Ross at (918) 453-6170; or Roy Boney, Jr. (918) 453-5487. Tsalagi aniwonisgi unadatlugv dodvnatlosi Nvgineiga Vsgiyi 14, 2017, ganvsulvi 12:30pm adalenisgi 4:00pm igohida. Na Anitsalagi tsunalisdayetiyi tsigotlv unaditli wayvsdi onadilvyvi utani kanvsula dodvnatlosi. Naniv Anitsalagi aniwonisgi otsitayohiha uniluhisdii. Alisdayvdi ayohisdi yodulia. Dodayotsadatlisani ale dodayotsalisdayvna hilutsvi. Ugodesdi tsadulihesdi tsadelayohisdi hiina wigehiyadvdi: Tsalagi Gawonihisdi Unadotlvsv (918) 453-5151; John Ross (918) 453-6170; or Roy Boney, Jr. (918) 453-5487.
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.