http://www.cherokeephoenix.orgCherokee artist Danny McCarter, of Tahlequah, Oklahoma, attaches Scottish Thistle to a wooden shaft using thread to make a blowgun dart for a river cane blowgun. WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Cherokee artist Danny McCarter, of Tahlequah, Oklahoma, attaches Scottish Thistle to a wooden shaft using thread to make a blowgun dart for a river cane blowgun. WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX

McCarter shares blowgun dart-making knowledge

After tying thistle to a wooden shaft to make a blowgun dart, Cherokee artist Danny McCarter rolls the dart in his palms to get rid of loose seeds and downy from the thistle. WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX Cherokee blowgun maker Danny McCarter removes seeds from a dry Scottish Thistle bulb before using it for fletching for a blowgun dart. He gathers the thistle in mid-to-late August. WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX Scottish Thistle is used for blowgun dart fletching. The purple plant blooms about mid-August in northeastern Oklahoma. For a dart’s fletching, Cherokee artist Danny McCarter takes a dried thistle bulb and gently removes the brown, seedy part from the pod to avoid pulling out the white, fluffy part of the pod that will be used to form the fletching. WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
After tying thistle to a wooden shaft to make a blowgun dart, Cherokee artist Danny McCarter rolls the dart in his palms to get rid of loose seeds and downy from the thistle. WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
BY WILL CHAVEZ
Assistant Editor – @cp_wchavez
10/05/2015 08:41 AM
Video with default Cherokee Phoenix Frame
PARK HILL, Okla. – Cherokee artist Danny McCarter, of Tahlequah, possesses skills handed down by Cherokee people for hundreds of years. He makes blowguns from river cane and the darts shot from it.

Along with knowing these skills, he uses a blowgun at his job as a villager in the Cherokee Heritage Center’s Diligwa Village. He interprets for the village’s visitors the Cherokee lifeways of the mid-1700s.

To make darts, he uses a thistle plant and a wooden shaft, which is usually difficult for a person when first trying.

“I can teach people to make a blowgun in one day...but the dart is really the art part because it takes a lot of dexterity to roll the dart and catch the thistle on there,” he said. “It looks simple when you see somebody do it that’s done it a thousand times, but it’s really difficult.”

His late uncle, J.C. McCarter, who worked in the CHC’s Ancient Village, introduced him to the blowgun. Danny’s brother, Rob, and another villager named Scott Rackliff also had a hand in teaching Danny about the blowgun and dart making when they worked in the village in the 1980s.

Danny said from what he’s studied it is not known where the river cane blowgun originated or who invented it, but it has always been used for hunting. Some cultures in South America used it in warfare because they could deliver tranquilizers with darts. However, he said, Cherokee people used the blowgun to hunt squirrels, rabbits and birds and relied on accuracy to kill those animals. Cherokee youths also used it to keep animals out of gardens.

He said Cherokees were people small in stature, so most tools they used didn’t require great strength but technique instead. He said some people try to use a large puff of air to blow a dart from a blowgun when all that’s required is a “quick, hard” burst of breath.

He said he’s won the Cherokee National Holiday blowgun contest with just a 4-1/2-foot long blowgun when competitors used longer blowguns to shoot at a target 45 feet away. He conceded that darts coming out his shorter blowgun are somewhat thicker or heavier so they can travel that distance.

Danny begins gathering the Scottish Thistle that he uses to fletch his darts after it blooms about mid-August in northeastern Oklahoma. Its purple blooms will first appear in the northern part of the Cherokee Nation and later in the southern part. He said thistle in Sequoyah County might not bloom until mid-September.

“You don’t want to pick it while it’s purple. You want to pick it while it’s brown. If you gather it while it’s purple and try to put it up (save it for later), it will mold,” he said.

He said for accuracy and distance, thistle is the best material for fletching. He said most Oklahoma Cherokees only use their blowguns to compete in contests in which a circular target is 45 feet away and that most blowguns are 8- to 10-feet-long. As with a rifle, the longer the blowgun the farther a dart can travel and maintain its velocity.

For fletching, he takes a dried thistle bulb and removes the brown, seedy part from the pod, avoiding pulling out the bulb’s white, fluffy downy that will form the fletching.

“That’s all you want, just the downy part on the inside,” he said.

He then finds a straight, wooden skewer and notches it on top. He said a person could carve the dart out of woods such as river cane and bois d’arc, which he said both make pretty and sturdy darts. Other woods used for dart shafts are oak, ash, maple, hickory and walnut. However, to save time, he purchases a 100-pack of wooden skewers, usually used to skewer food, for his dart shafts.

After notching the top of a skewer, he takes quilting thread and knots on one end and places in the notch. He then places the downy part of the thistle pod against the stick and wraps the thread around the downy to attach it to the stick. It takes an intricate use of his hands and his teeth to attach the thistle downy to the stick with the thread.

He ties the end of the thread where the downy ends on the stick and then rolls the stick in his hands to get rid of any remaining seeds or loose downy.

“We’ve used all kinds of materials for that fletching. We’ve used the downy feathers of birds, squirrel tail, and rabbit fur. The Choctaws of Mississippi use raw cotton because that’s what they have in their area, but really thistle is the greatest material,” he said. “It’s keeps your dart in the middle of your gun. It also gives you something to blow against, and it also gives you a guide like feathers on an arrow.”
ᏣᎳᎩ

ᎠᏭᏂᏴᏍᏗ, ᎣᎦᎵᎰᎹ. – ᏣᎳᎩ ᎪᏢᏅᏍᎩ Danny McCarter, ᏓᎵᏆ ᎡᎯ ᎠᎦᏔᎭ ᎾᏍᎩ ᏍᎪᎯᏧᏈ ᎾᏕᏘᏯ ᏂᏓᏃᏢᏍᎪᎢ ᎠᏂᏣᎳᎩ ᎠᏂᏴᏫ ᎾᏍᎩᏃ ᎠᎦᏘᎯ. ᏕᎪᏢᏍᎪ ᏚᏇᏍᏗ ᎾᎿ ᎢᎯᏯ ᏕᎪᏢᏗᏍᎪᎢ ᎠᎴ ᎾᏍᏊ ᏥᏥ ᏗᏍᏓᏲᏍᏙᏗ.

ᎾᏍᎩ ᎤᏅᏙ ᎯᎠ, ᎬᏗᏍᎪ ᏚᏇᏍᏗ ᏚᎸᏫᏍᏓᏁᎲ ᎤᏍᏗ ᎦᏚᎲ ᎾᎿ ᏣᎳᎩ ᏧᎾᏓᎴᏅ ᎠᏰᏟ ᏗᎵᏆ ᎤᏍᏗ ᎦᏚᎲᎢ. ᏕᎧᏃᎯᏎᎰ ᎤᏍᏗ ᎦᏚᎲ ᎠᏁᏙᎯ ᎠᏂᏣᎳᎩ ᎠᏁᎲᎢ ᎾᎿ ᎦᎵᏆᏚ ᎢᏍᎪᎯᏧᏈ ᎤᏕᏘᏴᏌᏗᏒᎢ.

ᏥᏥ ᏗᎪᏢᏗᎢ, ᎬᏗᏍᎪ ᏥᏥ ᎠᎴ ᎬᎾᏍᏗ, ᎢᎬᏱ ᎠᏓᎴᏂᏍᎬ ᎡᎵ ᎠᏍᏓᏲᎢ ᎢᎪᏢᏗᎢ.

“ᎡᎵᏊ ᏱᏥᏰᏲᎲᎦ ᎨᎶ ᎾᎿ ᏚᏇᏍᏗ ᎪᏢᏗ ᏌᏊ ᎢᎦ…….ᎠᏎᏍᎩᏂ ᏥᏥ ᏓᏃᏎᎰ ᏚᏇᏍᏗ ᏗᏍᏓᏲᏍᏙᏗ ᎾᏍᎩ ᏙᎯᏳ ᏍᏓᏯ ᎪᏢᏗ ᎪᎯᏓ ᎾᏟᎢᎵᏙ ᏥᏥ ᎾᏍᎩ ᎢᎬᏅᏙᏗ ᎾᎿ ᎦᎾᏍᏗᎢ ᎪᎯᏗ ᎠᎵᏏᎾᎲᏍᏙᏗ ᎩᎳ Ꮩ ᎣᏍᏓ ᏴᏕᎶᏆ,” ᎠᏗᏍᎬᎢ. ᏛᎧᏂᏍᎬᏊ ᎠᎴ ᎩᎶ ᏱᎪᏢᏍᎦ ᎠᎯᏓ ᏄᏫᏍᏙ ᎠᏎᏃ ᎾᏍᎩ ᎢᏳᏩᎪᏛ ᎨᏒ ᎢᏩᏛᏁᎸ ᎨᏐᎢ, ᎠᏎᏃ ᎢᎦ ᏍᏓᏱᎢ.”

ᎤᏚᏥ ᏚᎸᏫᏍᏓᏁᎮ ᎾᎿ ᎤᏍᏗ ᎦᏚᎲ ᏧᎸᏫᏍᏓᏁᎯ ᎨᏎ ᎦᏙᎥ J.C. McCarter ᏚᏙᎡᎢ. ᎾᏍᎩᏃ ᎤᏪᏲᏁ ᏌᏊ ᎨᏒ ᏗᎾᏓᏅᏟ Rob ᏧᏙᎩᏓ, ᏐᎢᏃ ᏚᎸᏫᏍᏓᏁᎮ Scott Rackliff ᏚᏙᎡ ᎾᏍᎩᏍᏊ ᎤᏕᎶᏆᎡᎴᎢ ᎠᎴ ᏗᏍᏓᏲᏍᏙᏗ ᏥᏥ ᏗᎪᏢᏔᏅ ᎤᏕᎶᏆᎥᏁ ᎾᎿ ᏐᏁᎳᏚ ᎢᏍᎪᎯᏧᏈ ᏁᎵᏍᎪ ᎤᏕᏘᏴᏌᏗᏒᎢ ᎨᏎᎢ.

Danny ᎠᏗᏍᎬ ᎤᎦᏎᏍᏔᏂᏙᎸ Ꮭ ᏙᎢ ᏱᎦᏅᏗ ᎾᎿ ᏙᎯᏳ ᎤᏓᎴᏅᎲ ᎦᏇᏍᏗ ᏓᏃᏢᏍᎬ ᎠᎴ ᎤᏓᎴᏅᎲᎢ, ᎠᏎᏃ ᏓᏅᏗᏍᎬ ᎠᏂᏃᎰᎵᏙᎲᎢ. ᎢᎦᏓᏃ ᎤᏛᎾ ᎤᎦᎾᏮ ᎠᎹᎵᎧ ᎠᏁᎯ ᎢᎦᏓ ᏓᏅᏗᏍᎪ ᏧᏠᏯ ᏚᏇᏍᏗ ᏚᏙᏢᏒ ᎠᏎᏃ ᏓᎾᏟᎲ ᏓᏅᏗᏍᎪ ᎠᎴ ᎠᏓᏟᏓᏗᏍᎩ ᎠᏂᏅᎵᏰᏍᎪ ᎦᎾᏍᏗᎢ. ᎾᏍᎩᏍᎩᏂ, ᎠᏗᏍᎬ ᎠᏂᏣᎳᎩ ᎠᏂᏴᏫ ᏓᏅᏗᏍᎪ ᏚᏇᏍᏗ ᎾᎿ ᏌᎶᏂ, ᏥᏍᏚ, ᎠᎴ ᏥᏍᏆ ᏚᏂᏲᎲ ᏓᏂᎯᏍᏗᏍᎪ. ᎠᏂᏣᎳᎩ ᎨᎳ ᏗᎾᏛᏍᎩ ᏓᏅᏗᏍᎪ ᏓᏂᏲᏍᏗᏍᎪ ᎪᎱᏍᏗ ᏯᏕᏯᏙᏗ ᎤᏂᏫᏒᏅᎢ.

ᎠᏗᏍᎬ ᎠᏂᏣᎳᎩ ᏧᎾᏍᏗ ᎨᏒ ᎤᎾᏙᏢᏒ, ᎾᏍᎩᏃ ᎤᎪᏛ ᎠᏅᏔᏅᏍᎬ Ꮭ ᎠᏎ ᏙᎯᏳ ᎤᏟᏂᎩᏓ ᏱᎨᏎ ᎾᏍᎩᏍᎩᏂ ᎠᏂᎦᏔᎾᎢ ᎨᏒᎢ. ᎠᏗᏍᎬᏃ ᎢᎦᏓ ᎠᏂᏴᏫ ᎢᎦ ᏍᏓᏯ ᎠᎾᏦᏔᏍᎪ ᎾᎿ ᏚᏇᏍᏗ ᏝᏃ ᎾᏍᎩ ᏱᎩ ᎤᏟᏍᏗ ᏩᏦᏔᏍᏗ.

ᎠᏗᏍᎬ ᎤᏓᏠᏒ ᎾᎿ ᎠᎾᏓᎪᎾᏗᏍᎬ ᎾᏍᎩ ᎠᏂᏣᎳᎩ ᎤᎾᏕᏘᏱᏍᎬ ᎠᏍᏆᎵᏍᎬᎢ ᎬᏗᏍᎬᏃ ᏚᏇᏍᏗ ᏅᎩ ᎠᏰᏟ ᎢᎳᏏᏗ ᎢᎦᏅᎯᏓ ᎾᏍᎩᏃ ᎠᏂᏐᎢ ᎨᏴ ᏕᎦᏅᎯᏒ ᎾᏍᎩᏃ ᏫᏚᏂᏲᏍᏗ ᎨᏒ ᎾᎿ ᏅᎩᏍᎪ ᎯᏍᎩ ᏯᎳᏏᏗ ᎨᏐᎢ. ᎠᏗᏍᎬᏃ ᎾᏍᎩ ᎤᏤᎵ ᏚᏇᏍᏗ ᏱᏚᏍᏓᏲᏟ ᎤᎪᏙ ᎤᏟᏂᎩᏓ ᎠᏝᏫᏗᏍᎪᎢ ᎾᎿ ᎦᏅᎯᏓ ᎨᏒᎢ ᏅᎩᏍᎪ ᎯᏍᎩ ᎢᏯᎳᏏᏗ ᎨᏐ ᏫᏓᏂᏲᎯᎲᎢ. ᎠᏗᏍᎬ ᎾᏍᎩ ᏱᏓᏍᏓᏲᏟ ᎾᏍᎩ ᏍᏆᎳᎯᎨ ᏴᎬᏗ ᎤᎪᏙ ᎤᏟᏂᎩᏓ ᎨᏐ ᎠᎴ ᎠᏅᎯᏲ ᎠᏟᏫᏗᏍᎪᎢ.

Danny ᎠᎴᏂᏍᎪ ᎦᏟᏏᏍᎬ ᎠᎴ ᎤᏲᎰ ᏥᏥ ᎢᎾᎨᎢ ᎾᏍᎩ ᏳᏥᎸᎾ ᎠᏰᏟᏴ ᎤᏂᎩᏓ ᎦᎶᏂ ᎠᎴ ᏚᎵᏍᏗ ᏕᎧᎸᎢ ᏱᎩ ᎤᏲᎰ ᎾᏍᎩ ᎠᎭᏂ ᎨᏒᎢ. ᎾᏍᎩ ᎠᏕᎭᎵᎩ ᎠᏥᎸᏍᎪ ᎾᏍᎩ ᎤᏴᏢ ᎢᏗᏢ ᏣᎳᎩᎯ ᎠᏰᎵ ᎠᎴ Ꮟ ᎣᏂᏴ ᎤᏣᏘᏂ ᎨᏒᎢ. ᎠᏗᏍᎬᏃ ᎾᏍᎩ ᏥᏥ ᏏᏉᏲ ᏍᎦᏚᎩ Ꮭ ᏯᏥᎸᏍᎪ ᎠᏰᏟ ᎤᏂᎩᏓ ᏚᎵᏍᏗ ᎧᎸ.

“ᏝᏃ ᎣᏍᏓ ᏱᎩ ᎢᎬᏅᏕᏍᏗ ᎾᏍᎩ ᏕᎭᎵᎨ ᏳᏥᎸᎭ. ᎢᎬᏅᏕᏍᏗ ᎾᏍᎩ ᎤᏬᏗᎨ ᏱᎩ. ᎢᏳᏃ ᏱᏂᎬᏂᏕᏏ ᎠᎴ ᏯᏍᏆᏂᎪᏔᏅ ᎾᏍᎩ ᏕᎭᎵᎨ ᏱᎩ ᏱᎧᎾᏬᏓᏛᎦ (ᎣᏂ ᎬᏙᏗ ᏱᎵᏏ), ᏱᎧᎾᏬᏓᏛᎦ,” ᎠᏗᏍᎬᎢ.

ᎠᏗᏍᎬ ᎾᏍᎩ ᎦᏅᎯᏓ ᎤᏝᏫᏗᎢ ᏥᏥ ᎾᏍᎩ ᏬᏌᏂᏴᎢ ᎬᏙᏗᎢ ᎤᏟᏍᏗ ᎬᏙᏗᎢ, ᎠᏗᏍᎬ ᏂᎦᏓᏊ ᎢᏳᏍᏗ ᎣᎦᎵᎰᎹ ᎠᏁᎯ ᎠᏂᏣᎳᎩ ᏓᏅᏗᏍᎪ ᏚᏇᏍᏗ ᎠᎾᏓᎪᏅᏗᏍᎬᎢ ᎾᏍᎩ ᏫᏚᏂᏲᏍᏗ ᏅᎩᏍᎪ ᎯᏍᎩ ᎢᎳᏏᏗ ᎢᏴᎢ ᎠᎴ ᏚᎪᏛ ᏚᏇᏍᏗ ᏧᏂᎳ ᎠᎴ ᏍᎪᎯ ᎢᎳᏏᏗ ᎢᏗᎦᏅᎯᏓ ᎨᏐᎢ. ᏯᏛᏂᏃ ᎦᎶᏇ ᏱᎩ, ᏚᏇᏍᏗ ᏱᎩ ᎦᏅᎯᏓ ᏱᎩ ᎢᎾ ᏫᎦᎷᎪ ᏥᏥ ᎦᏅᎯᏓ ᎠᏝᏫᏗᏍᎪᎢ.

ᏱᎰᏓᎪᏢᎾ ᏧᏍᏓᏲᏍᏙᏗ, ᎤᎧᏲᏓ ᎬᏗᏍᎪ ᎠᎴ ᏂᏕᎬᏅᏕᏍᎪ ᏂᎦᏓ ᎤᏬᏗᎨ ᎨᏒ ᎠᎴ ᎤᏂᎦᏘ ᎾᏍᎩ ᎤᏁᎦ ᎨᏒᎢ ᏂᎦᏓ ᎧᏃᎯᏯᏍᎪ ᎤᏬᏢᏙᏗ ᏥᏥ.

“ᎾᏍᎩᏊᏃ ᎢᎦ ᎨᏐ, ᎾᏍᎩ ᎭᏫᏂ ᏄᏍᏛᎢ ᏕᎪᏢᏗᏍᎪᎢ,” ᎠᏗᏍᎬᎢ.

ᏃᏊᎴ ᎠᏴᏩᏘᏍᎪ ᎦᏥᏃᏍᏗ ᎠᏓ ᎠᎴ ᏓᏰᎶᎰ ᎦᎸᎳᏗ. ᎠᏗᏍᎬ ᎨᎶ ᎠᎵᏊ ᏱᏕᎪᏢᏗ ᎢᎯᏯ ᎠᎴ ᎧᎶᏇᏓ ᏓᎶᏂᎨ ᎾᏄ ᏍᏓᏯ ᎠᏓ ᎤᏬᏚᎯ ᎾᏍᏊ. ᏗᏐᎢ ᎠᏓ ᏗᎦᎬᏙᏗ ᎾᏍᎩ ᏧᏍᎦ, ash, maple, ᏩᏁᎢ, ᎠᎴ ᏎᏗ. ᎠᏎᏍᎩᏂ, ᎤᏟᏍᏛᎢ ᏗᎪᏢᏗ ᏱᏓᏩᏏᏊ ᏕᎦᎳᏗᏍᏛ ᎦᏅᏍᏗ ᎠᎾᏓᏍᏓᏴᎲᏍᎪ ᏓᏅᏗᏍᎪᎢ.

ᎦᎸᎳᏗ ᏱᏓᏰᎳᎵ, ᏴᎩ ᎦᏰᏫᏒᏙᏗ ᎬᏗᏍᎪ ᎠᎴ ᏓᎧᏁᎯᎰ ᎠᎴ ᏂᎬᏅᏗᏍᎪ ᎾᎿ ᎬᎾᏍᏗᎢ.

ᏃᎴ ᎾᏍᎩ ᎤᏁᎦ ᏩᏂᎨ ᎨᏒ ᎦᏅᏍᏗᎢ ᏃᏊ ᎠᏍᏘ ᎠᎴᏂᏍᎪ ᎦᎸᏪᏯᏍᏗᏍᎪ ᎪᏢᏍᎪ ᏚᏇᏍᏗ ᏗᏍᏓᏲᏍᏙᏗ. ᏙᎯᏳᏃ ᏕᎬᏗᏍᎪ ᏧᏬᏰᏂ ᎠᎴ ᎾᏍᏊ ᏗᎦᏅᏙᎬ ᎾᏍᎩ ᏕᎬᏗᏍᎪ ᏂᎬᏅᏗᏍᎬ ᏥᏥ ᎾᎿ ᎬᎾᏍᏗᎢ.

ᏓᎧᏁᎯᎰ ᎤᏍᎪᎵ ᎠᎴ ᎾᏍᎩ ᏩᏂᎨ ᎨᏒ ᎠᎴ ᎦᎸᏪᏯᏍᏗᏍᎪ ᎦᏅᏍᏗᎢ ᏂᎦᏓᏃ ᏳᎸᏪᏯᏍᏔᏂ ᏂᎬᏅᏕᏍᎪ ᏂᎦᏓ ᏃᏒ ᎨᏒᎢ.

“ᏧᏓᎴᏅᏓ ᎣᎬᏔᏅᎾ ᏙᏦᏢᏗᏍᎬ ᏗᏲᏍᏙᏗ ᏯᏛᎾ ᏥᏍᏆ, ᏌᎶᎵ ᎦᏙᎩ, ᎠᎴ ᏥᏍᏚ ᎤᏩᏂ. ᎠᏂᏣᏗ ᎾᏍᎩ ᎧᏍᎩᏲᎩ ᎠᏁᎯ ᎠᏅᏗᏍᎪ ᎤᏥᎸᎢ ᏅᏗᎦᎵᏍᏙᏗ ᎾᏍᎩ ᎤᏥᎸ ᎠᎾᏛᎯᏍᏗᏍᎩ, ᎠᏎᏃ ᏥᏥ ᎾᏍᎩ ᏬᏌᏂᏴ ᎠᏗᏍᎬᎢ,” ᎠᏗᏍᎬᎢ. ᎾᏍᎩᏃ ᎯᎠ ᎠᏍᏕᎵᏍᎪ ᏥᏥ ᎦᎶᏇᎯ ᎠᏰᏟ ᎢᏳᎵᏍᏙᏗ , ᎠᎴ ᎠᏍᏕᎵᏍᎪ ᎦᎶᏇᎯ ᏥᏳᎪᏓ ᎢᏳᎵᏍᏙᏗ ᏥᏥ ᎾᏍᎩ ᎤᏠᏯ ᎦᏟᏓ.

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 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.