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 BOSTON
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.

Culture

BY KENLEA HENSON
Reporter
05/18/2018 08:00 AM
TAHLEQUAH – Every year on May 7 the Descendants of the Cherokee Seminaries Students Organization hold its annual reunion at Northeastern State University where it awards two NSU students with scholarships. This year’s recipients were Cherokee Nation citizens Bryley Hoodenpyle and Marilyn Tschida. Both students received a $1,000 scholarship based on their GPAs, activities and interviews. Hoodenpyle said her fourth great-grandmother’s aunt and two cousins attended the Cherokee Male and Female seminaries, which she discovered through online research and NSU’s archives. She said after college she plans to attend NSU’s optometry school. “It means a lot to me to receive this scholarship just because this university has given so much to me and has helped me grow personally,” Hoodenpyle said. “NSU has developed me as a student and as a leader so its really awesome to me that my family played a part in that story however many years ago.” Tschida is an education graduate student and plans to graduate in December. She said she found her grandmother’s name in the Cherokee Female Seminary roll book in NSU’s archives and decided to apply for the scholarship. “I am really proud to accept it, I think she would be very proud for me to have gotten something on her behalf,” Tschida said. On May 7, 1889, the Cherokee Female Seminary reopened north of Tahlequah after a fire destroyed it two years earlier. So, no matter what day May 7 falls on, the descendants of students who attended the Cherokee Male and Female seminaries gather to honor their ancestors and their time at the schools. DCSSO President Rick Ward said the reunion is the oldest tradition on NSU’s campus, accruing annually for 167 years with the exception of one year during World War II. “It started out as a picnic, but it wasn’t the descendants getting together it was the actual students of the seminaries coming together, bringing food and visiting out in front of the sycamore tree,” he said. After noticing the number seminary students fading away, Jack Brown established the DCSSO in 1975. Brown served as the executive vice president of the Cherokee Seminaries Students Alumni Association for years. He wanted to get the descendants of the alumni involved in the activities of the association as well as keep the tradition alive. In 1984 the name officially changed to the Descendants of Cherokee Seminaries Students Organization. The state bought the Female Seminary in 1909, which now serves as Seminary Hall and the centerpiece of NSU. DCSSO Secretary Ginny Wilson said she wants to keep the reunion tradition alive for her grandmother, who was a student at the Female Seminary. “I do this for my grandmother. We used to bring her up here to this reunion. It was always the one thing in her life she wanted to do,” Wilson said. Wilson said the DCSSO follows the same format as their ancestors did during their reunions, which consists of the organization’s meeting, lunch, a speaker, the Cherokee choir and Miss Cherokee. “We follow that format as close as we can to just do the same thing. It’s gotten a whole lot smaller, but that’s what we do as descendants in memory of those people,” she said. Since the DCSSO established a scholarship for students who are descendants in the early 2000s, its goal is to continue to provide that scholarship. “Our biggest plan is to increase our scholarship amount. That’s the most important, but also to keep the (May 7) tradition going at Northeastern. Otherwise it will die,” Wilson said.
BY STAFF REPORTS
05/16/2018 12:00 PM
SALLISAW – Enjoy a day of traditional Cherokee art, music and more, honoring legendary statesman and inventor of the Cherokee syllabary, Sequoyah. The event will be held in conjunction with Cherokee Nation’s Traditional Native Games. Sequoyah Day begins at 10 a.m. on May 19 at Sequoyah’s Cabin Museum. “We are proud to bring to life an event like Sequoyah Day. It’s a unique daylong celebration of Cherokee history and culture at the home of the man who pioneered the Cherokee syllabary,” Principal Chief Bill John Baker said. “Now that Cherokee Nation owns and operates the Sequoyah Cabin Park, we can organize these types of family-driven events that are both educational and fun for all.” The event runs until 4 p.m. and features live performances, activities for children and cultural demonstrations such as pottery, flint-knapping, bow-making, stone carving and graphics. The event includes multiple performances from the Cherokee National Youth Choir and a special language presentation at 1:30 p.m. Sequoyah built the cabin in 1829 and welcomes more than 12,000 visitors each year. It was designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1966 and a National Literary Landmark in 2006. The homestead includes a one-room cabin and nearly 200 acres. Prior to reopening under CN management in 2017, Sequoyah’s Cabin Museum received much-needed repairs and renovations. The museum now features large displays that share the story of Sequoyah, his development of the Cherokee syllabary and the Cherokee language today. The museum also features a retail space offering Cherokee Nation apparel, gifts and souvenirs. The museum is located at Highway 101, 7 miles east of Highway 59. For more information, visit <a href="http://www.VisitCherokeeNation.com" target="_blank">www.VisitCherokeeNation.com</a>.
BY STAFF REPORTS
05/09/2018 12:00 PM
PARK HILL – Explore the messages of John Ross in his correspondences with fellow tribesmen and political allies throughout his 38 years as principal chief of the Cherokee Nation. “The Letters of John Ross” is the tribe’s first digital exhibit and allows guests to view documents that are usually off view and housed in collections at the Gilcrease Museum in Tulsa. Featured writings address topics such as delegation nominations, potential resolutions, rumors of assassination plots and the possible removal of Cherokee people to Mexico. “This is the first exhibit of its kind for Cherokee Nation, and we are eager to see how the public responds,” Travis Owens, Cherokee Nation Businesses cultural tourism director, said. “The digital format enables guests to focus on their specific interests in an interactive and engaging way.” The exhibit runs May 4 through Jan. 31 at the John Ross Museum, which highlights Ross’ life and legacy and houses exhibits and interactive displays on the Trail of Tears, Civil War, Cherokee Golden Age and tribe’s passion for education. The museum is housed in an old, rural school building known as School #51 and sits at the foot of Ross Cemetery, where Ross and other notable CN citizens are buried. The museum is located at 22366 S. 530 Road. It’s open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. For information, call -1877-779-6977 or visit <a href="http://www.VisitCherokeeNation.com" target="_blank">www.VisitCherokeeNation.com</a>.
BY STAFF REPORTS
05/09/2018 10:00 AM
TAHLEQUAH – The Cherokee Speakers Bureau will be held Thursday May 10, 2018 from 12:30 – 4 p.m. 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. Tsalagi aniwonisgi unadatlugv dodvnatlosi Nvgineiga Anisgvti 10, 2018, ganvsulvi 12:30pm adalenisgi 4 p.m. 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.
BY STAFF REPORTS
05/08/2018 08:00 AM
BENTONVILLE, Ark. – The Museum of Native American History will host storytelling and a beadwork class on May 12. The museum is located at 202 S.W. “O” St. Admission is free, and the events are open to all. From 10:30 a.m. to 11 a.m., MONAH staff will share traditional Yup'ik (Alaska) and Cherokee stories about how berries came to be just in time for berry season. “Our stories for the day include ‘Berry Magic,’ written and illustrated by Teri Sloat and Betty Huffmon, and ‘The First Strawberries: A Cherokee Story,’ retold by Joseph Bruchac and illustrated by Anna Vojtech. Stick around after the stories to make a self-portrait using nature and try akutaq, a traditional Yup'ik dish made with berries,” MONAH Director Charlotte Buchanan-Yale said. Storytime is geared toward ages 4 and up, but kids of all ages and their adults are welcome. A Creative Visions artist will host and teach a “Beadwork for Beginners” class beginning at 5:30 p.m. in the museum. Join Cherokee beadwork and jewelry artist Carolyn Chumwalooky for an in-depth introduction to the intricate art of beading. This hands-on workshop will lead participants through the process of creating a beaded keychain to take home. Registration is free and required. Supplies and refreshments will be provided. For more information, call the museum at 479-273-2456 or visit <a href="http://www.momah.us" target="_blank">www.momah.us</a>.
BY STAFF REPORTS
05/04/2018 04:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH – According to a Cherokee Nation press release, the tribe has started interior renovations of the Cherokee National Capitol building that are expected to help prepare it to serve as a museum in future years. “We are beginning the interior restoration of our most iconic building,” Principal Chief Bill John Baker said. “Because so much critical history has happened on those premises, it’s important we take the proper steps to ensure its preservation for future generations. This historic structure will soon begin a new chapter as a museum that will educate Cherokees and visitors alike about the powerful and inspiring story of the Cherokee people.” According to CN Communications, Cherokee Nation Businesses is funding the project and Cherokee Nation Cultural Tourism is managing it. Officials said the estimated budget for renovations is $2.3 million. The project consists of plaster restoration, new public restrooms, new flooring, a new geothermal HVAC system and the addition of an elevator and second stairwell, the release states. “Preservation projects are one of the most rewarding investments we can make,” CNB CEO Shawn Slaton said. “Once renovations are complete, this iconic building will serve as a museum and further expand the tribe’s impressive tourism offerings within the Cherokee Nation.” The release states that Builders Unlimited, a TERO-certified company, is performing the work while being managed by Cherokee Nation Cultural Tourism. Renovations are slated to be complete in early 2019, according to the release. “We’ve had a longstanding commitment to the preservation of our historic sites,” CNB Executive Vice President Chuck Garrett said. “This project, along with the many others we’ve completed, is another way of keeping our history and culture alive and gives us an opportunity to share our Cherokee story with the world.” This is the latest of several preservation projects to take place at the Capitol. In 2013, a replica cupola was constructed to bring the building back to its 1870s appearance. A few years later, the building underwent a masonry restoration in which more than 2,000 bricks were replaced to strengthen the structure. That work also included removing paint from the existing brick to help return the building to its historic look. Additional restoration work throughout the years has included roof repairs with new decking and historic era shingles, restoration of soffits and fascia, a gutter system and updated doors and windows. The Capitol building was built in 1869, and all three branches of the CN government occupied it prior to statehood. The building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is designated a National Landmark.