Dart finds success with basketry

BY STACIE BOSTON
Multimedia Reporter
05/04/2016 08:00 AM
Video with default Cherokee Phoenix Frame
Main Cherokee Phoenix
Cherokee artist Mike Dart works on a hickory, stair-stepped pattern basket at his art studio in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. He said the inspiration for the basket came to him within a dream. STACIE GUTHRIE/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Main Cherokee Phoenix
Cherokee artist Mike Dart’s basket titled “The Burdens We Carry” won first place and best of category in the basketry division of the 45th annual Trail of Tears Art Show and Sale. Dart said the basket is based on an early 1900s photo of a Cherokee woman’s basket. STACIE GUTHRIE/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
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 gwyboi77@gmail.com.

Best of category

18th annual Cherokee Homecoming Art Show: Contemporary Basketry

45th annual Trail of Tears Art Show: Basketry

First place

18th annual Cherokee Homecoming Art Show

45th annual Trail of Tears Art Show

Second place

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

Third place

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
ᏣᎳᎩ

ᏓᎵᏆ, ᎣᎦᎳᎰᎹ. – ᎾᏍᎩᏃ ᏱᏂᎦᎵᏍᏗᎭ ᏔᎷᏣᏃ, ᏣᎳᎩᎯ ᎠᏰᎵ ᎨᎳ Mike Dart ᎠᏲᏟᏃ ᎢᏴ ᏥᎨᏒᎢ ᏄᏚᎵᏍᎪᎢ ᎤᏬᏢᏅᏗᎢ. ᎠᏫᏂᏃ ᎢᏴ ᏥᎨᏒᎢ, ᎤᏕᎶᏆᎡᎢ ᏔᎷᏣ ᏧᏬᏢᏅᏗᎢ, ᎠᎴ Ꮓ ᎾᏊ ᎤᏔᎾ ᏂᎨᏐᎢ ᎠᏂᎸᏉᏗᏍᎬᎢ ᏗᏓᏁᏗ ᏚᏓᏒᏅᎢ, ᎾᏍᎩᏃ ᎠᏞᎬᏭᏃ ᏥᎨᏒᎢ ᎾᏍᎩ 45th ᏑᏕᏘᏴᏓ ᏳᏓᎳ Trail of Tears Art Show.

ᎾᏍᎩᏃ ᎢᎧᏃᎮᏍᎬᎢ ᎾᏍᎩ ᎠᏓᏁᏗ-ᎤᏓᏠᏒᎢ ᏔᎷᏣ ᎾᏍᎩ ᏚᏙᏍᏛᎢ “ᎾᏍᎩ ᏓᏓᎴᎬᎢ ᏥᏗᎵᏏᏙᎰᎢ” ᎠᎴ ᎾᏍᎩᏃ ᏗᏓᏟᎶᏍᏔᏅᎢ ᏂᏧᎵᏍᏙᏔᏅᎢ.

“ᎾᏍᎩᏃ ᎢᎸᎯᏳᎢ ᏥᎨᏒᎢ ᎤᏓᎨᏓ ᎠᏓᏅᏓᏗᏍᏗ ᏫᎦᏟᏗ ᎨᏒᎢ ᏔᎷᏣ, ᎾᏍᎩᏃ ᎢᎸᎯᏳᎢ ᏥᎨᏒᎢ ᏣᏁᎲᎢ ᏗᎩᎦᏴᎵᎨ ᏓᎾᎵᏎᎲᎢ ᎾᏍᎩ ᎢᏳᏍᏗ ᏔᎷᏣ, ᎠᎴ ᎾᏍᎩ ᏧᏅᏙᏗ ᎨᏒᎢ ᎤᏂᏟᏔᏅᏙᏗ ᎠᏁᏙᎲᎢ ᎠᎴ ᏓᏅᏗᏍᎬᎢ ᎠᏂᏱᏙᎸᎲᏍᎬᎢ ᎪᎱᏍᏗ ᎠᎴ ᎠᏂᏍᏆᏂᎪᏗᏍᎬᎢ ᎪᎱᏍᏗ ᏳᏓᎵᎭᎢ. ᎾᏍᎩᏃ ᏔᎷᏣ ᏓᎾᎵᏎᎲᎢ, ᎾᏍᎩᏃ Ꮎ ᏓᎾᎵᏎᎲᎢ,” ᎠᏗᏍᎬᎢ. “ᎾᏍᎩᏃ ᏗᏓᏟᎶᏍᏔᏅᎢ ᎠᎩᎪᎲᎢ ᎥᎿᏃ ᏓᏭᎪᏔᏁᎢ ᎾᏍᎩ ᎠᏬᏢᏗᎢ ᏗᏓᏟᎶᏍᏔᏅᎢ ᎠᎩᎪᎭ. ᎥᏝᏃ ᎾᏍᎩ ᏄᏍᏛᎢ ᎤᏠᏱ ᏱᎾᏮᏁᎸᎢ. 1900s ᏥᎨᏒᎢ ᎠᎨᏯ ᏓᎦᏟᎶᏍᏛᎢ ᏣᎳᎩ ᎤᏪᏘ ᎡᎯ ᏓᎦᏟᎶᏍᏛᎢ ᎾᏍᎩ ᏔᎷᏣ ᎠᎵᏎᎲᎢ ᎾᏍᎩᏃ ᏗᏓᏟᎶᏍᏔᏅᎢ ᎠᏋᏔᏅᎢ.”

ᎢᎧᏃᎮᏍᎬᏃ ᎾᏍᎩᏃ ᎠᏃᏢᏅᏍᎬᎢ ᎬᏂᎨᏒᎢ ᎾᏅᏁᎲᎢ ᎥᎿᎾᏂ Trail of tears Art Show ᎠᏖᎳᏗᏍᎬᎢ 2006 ᏂᏗᎬᏓᎴᏂᏍᎩ. “ ᎥᏝᏃ ᎪᎱᏍᏗ ᏯᏆᏓᏑᏅᎢ ᎾᎯᏳᎢ ᎢᎬᏱᏱᎢ. ᎯᎸᏍᎩᏃ ᎾᏕᏘᏯ ᏥᎨᏒᎢ ᎥᏝ ᎪᎱᏍᏗ ᏯᏆᏓᏑᏅᎢ, ᎠᏎᏃ ᎢᏧᎳ ᎬᏂᏒᎢ ᏱᏗᏮᏁᎸᎢ ᎾᏍᎩ ᎢᎬᏱᏱᎢ ᎤᏒᎢ ᏓᎩᎾᏗᏅᎢ. ᎢᎦᏃ ᎣᏍᏓ ᎠᎩᏰᎸᏅᎢ.”

ᎯᎸᏍᎩᏃ ᎾᏕᏘᏯ ᏚᎶᏌ, ᎤᏓᎴᏅᎲᎢ ᎠᏓᏠᏍᎬᎢ, ᎢᎬᏱᏱᎢ ᎠᏓᏑᎲᏍᏗ ᎥᎿᎾᏂ 18th ᏑᏕᏘᏴᏓ ᏳᏓᎵ ᏣᎳᎩᎯ Homecoming Art Show ᎠᎴ ᎦᎾᏗᏅᏗ ᎪᎱᏍᏗ, ᏔᎵᏁᏃ ᎠᏓᏑᎲᏍᏗ ᎥᎿᎾᏂ 2015 ᏥᎦᏌ ᎠᏰᎵ Artesian Art Festival ᎠᎴ ᏔᎵ ᏦᎢᏁ ᏗᏓᏑᎲᏍᏗ ᎥᎿᎾᏂ 2015 ᎯᏍᎩ ᎢᏯᏂᎢ ᎠᏂᎳᏍᏓᏢᎢ Museum’s Art ᏗᏓᏲᎢ ᎭᏫᎾᏗᏜ ᎠᎾᎵᎪᏂᏍᎬᎢ.

Dart Z ᎢᎧᏃᎮᏍᎬᎢ ᎾᏍᎩᏃ ᎤᏚᎸᎮᎢ ᎾᏍᎩ ᎢᏳᏛᏁᏗᎢ ᎾᏍᎩᏃ ᎤᎦᏙᏍᏛᎢ ᎤᎵᏏ ᏔᎷᏣ ᏕᎪᏢᏍᎬᎢ.

“ᎠᎩᏂᏏᏃ ᎡᏙᏙᏗᏜ ᏔᎷᏣ ᏗᎬᏍᎩ ᎨᏒᎩ, ᎠᎴ ᎦᎵᏦᏕᎢ ᎠᏅᏗ ᎪᏢᏅᏍᎩ ᎨᏒᎩ ᏗᎵᎦᎵᏍᎩᏃ ᎠᎴ ᏩᏁᎢ ᎠᎴ ᏗᏐᎢ ᏁᎯᏯᎢ ᎬᏔᏂᏓᏍᏍᏗ ᎬᏗᎲᎢ. ᎾᏍᎩᏃ ᏔᎷᏣ ᏥᏕᎪᏢᏍᎬᎢ ᎥᏝᏃ ᎢᏙᏳᎢ ᎠᏂᏣᎳᎩ ᏥᏓᏃᏢᏍᎪᎢ ᏱᏗᎨᏒᎢ. ᏧᏓᎴᎿᎢᏃ ᎨᏒᎩ, ᎠᏎᏃ ᎦᏅᏓᏗᏍᎪᎢ ᏥᎦᏙᏍᏛᎢ ᏥᏲᏟ ᏥᎨᏒᎢ ᎠᎴ ᎢᎦᏃ ᎠᏆᏍᏈᏂᎬᏓᏁᎲᎢ ᎾᏛᏁᎲᎢ ᎦᏟᏏᏍᎬᎢ ᎠᎴ ᏂᏕᎬᏁᎲᎢ ᏕᎪᏢᏍᎬᎢ,” ᎠᏗᏍᎬᎢ. “ᎾᏊᏃ ᎠᏯ ᏯᏆᏁᏟᏔᏂ ᎾᏍᎩ ᎢᏯᏆᏛᏁᏗ, ᎯᎪᎯᎸᏊ ᎠᏲᎩᎲᎢ ᎠᎴ ᎥᏝᏃ ᏱᎪᎵᎬᎢ ᎩᎳ ᎠᏆᏔᎾ ᎾᏆᎵᏍᏔᏂ ᎠᎴ Ꮓ ᏩᏬᏟᏥᏢᎢ ᎾᏍᎩᏃ ᎠᎹ Ꮓ ᏯᏋᏔᏂ ᎥᏝᏃ ᏯᏲᎨᎢ. ᎠᎴ ᎾᏍᎩᏃ ᎢᎦ ᎠᏆᏍᏆᏂᎬᏓᏁᎲᎢ ᎾᏍᎩ Ꮎ ᏩᎯᏗᏴᎢ ᎪᎱᏍᏗ ᎦᎬᏙᏗ ᎨᏒ ᎠᎹ ᎠᎹᏃ ᏱᎬᏔᏂ ᎥᏝᏃ ᏯᏲᎨᎢ ᎠᎴ ᏂᎬᏩᏍᏗ ᎤᏬᏚᏒᎢ.”

ᎾᏍᎩᏃ ᎢᎧᏃᎮᏍᎬᎢ 1993 ᏥᎨᏒᎢ ᎤᏕᎶᏆᎡᎢ ᏔᎷᏣ ᏗᎬᏗᎢ ᎾᎯᏳᏃ ᎾᏍᎩᏊ ᎦᎸᎳᏗ ᏧᎾᏕᎶᏆᏍᏗᎢ ᏓᏕᏲᎲᏍᎬᎢ ᎾᏍᎩ ᏣᎳᎩᎯ ᎢᎬᎾᏕᎾ ᎠᏃᏢᏅᏍᎩ Shawna Morton Cain.

“ᏔᎷᏣ ᏗᎪᏢᏅᏗᎢ ᏓᏕᏲᎲᏍᎬᎢ, ᏧᎾᏓᎴᏅᏗᏃ ᏴᏫ ᎠᏂᎷᎬᎢ ᏧᎾᏕᏲᏗᎢ ᏗᎦᏓᎫᎩ ᏧᏃᏢᏗᎢ, ᏗᎵᎬᏚᎶᎢ ᎾᏍᎩᏊ ᏧᏃᏢᏗᎢ, ᎠᎴ ᏄᏓᎴᎢ ᎠᏢᏅᏗᎢ,” ᎠᏗᏍᎬᎢ. “ᏔᎷᏣ ᏗᎪᏢᏗᎢ, ᎠᎯᏗᏳᎢ ᎾᏆᎵᏍᏓᏁᎲᎢ, ᎠᎴ ᎾᏍᎩᏃ ᎢᎨᏎᎢ ᎢᏯᏆᏛᏁᏗᎢ ᏂᏗᎦᎵᏍᏙᏗᎭ ᎡᎵᏏ ᎢᏳᏛᏁᎸᎢ ᎨᏒᎩ.”

Dart Z ᎢᎧᏃᎮᏍᎬᎢ ᎪᎯᏴᏃ ᏥᎩ ᏔᎷᏣ ᏗᎪᏢᏗ ᏕᎪᏢᏍᎦ ᎠᏎᏃ ᎾᏞᎬᏭ ᏥᎨᏒᎢ ᎤᎦᏛᏂᏙᎸᎢ ᎾᏍᎩ ᎠᏂᏣᎳᎩ ᏅᏧᎾᏛᏁᎸᏍᏔᏅᎢ ᏔᎷᏣ ᏥᏓᏃᏢᏍᎬᎢ, ᏧᏪᏘᏃ ᏗᏓᏟᎶᏍᏔᏅᎢ ᏓᎪᎵᏰᏍᎬᎢ. ᎾᏍᎩᏃ ᎢᎧᏃᎮᏍᎬᎢ ᎾᏍᎩ ᏔᎷᏣ ᏗᎪᏢᏗᎢ ᎯᎸᏍᎩᏃ ᏂᏓᏕᏘᏯ ᏧᎶᏌ ᎠᎴ ᎤᏚᎩ ᎤᏩᏐᎢ ᏂᎬᎯᎵᏎᏍᏗ ᏔᎷᏣ ᏗᎪᏢᏗᎢ, ᎯᎠ ᏗᎾᏛᏍᎩ ᏥᏛᎾᎢ.

“ᏔᎷᏣ ᏗᎪᏢᏗᎢ, ᎢᎦᏓᏃ ᏴᏫ ᎬᏆᏘᏲᏍᏗᎰᎢ, ᎠᏯᏃ ᏂᎨᎵᏍᎬᎢ ᎾᏍᎩ ᏰᎵᏊ ᏩᎬᏴᎵᏴᎢ ᏂᎬᏂᎯᎵᏐᎢ ᎾᏍᎩ ᎪᏢᏅᏗᎢ ᎾᏍᎩ ᏂᎬᎯᎵᏐᎢ-ᏄᏲᎢᏍᏔᏅᏓ ᎠᏏ ᎾᏂᎷᎬᎾ - ᎠᏂᎦᎵᏏ. ᏄᏩᏓᎴᏃ ᎪᎱᏍᏗ ᎢᎩᏑᎵᎪᏥ ᎠᎴ ᎠᏎᏃ ᎤᏂᏤᎲᏍᏔᏅᎢ ᎠᏎᏃ ᎢᏣᏂᏔ, ᏔᎷᏣ ᏗᎪᏢᏗᎢ ᏂᎬᏂᎯᎵᏐᎢ ᎥᎿᎾᏂ ᎢᏧᎳ ᎤᏴᏢᎢ ᎦᏯᎴᏂᎢ ᎠᎴ ᎠᎭᏂ ᎣᎦᎳᎰᎹ. ᎠᏓᏁᏟᏴᏎᎦ, ᎠᏎᏃ ᏂᎬᎯᎵᏊ,” ᎠᏗᏍᎬᎢ. “ᎥᏝᏃ ᎥᏍᎩ ᏱᎦᎢ ᏗᎾᏛᏍᎩ ᏗᏅᏍᎩ ᏯᏁᎭ ᎾᏊ ᎨᏒᎢ. ᎾᏊᏃ ᎨᏒᎢ ᏂᎬᏂᎯᎵ ᎠᎭᏂ ᎣᎦᎳᎰᎹ, ᎠᏎᏃ ᎠᎭᏂ 20 ᏫᏄᏕᏘᏴᎲᎢ ᏰᎵᏊ ᎦᏂᏰᎩᎢ ᏱᏄᏍᏗ.”

Dart Z ᎢᎧᏃᎮᏍᎬᎢ ᎾᏍᎩᏃ ᎠᏗᏒᎯᏍᏗᎢ ᎯᎠ ᎾᏊᏃ ᎠᎵᏍᎪᏟᏗᎭ ᏧᏪᏲᏗᎢ ᎠᏂᏣᎳᎩ ᏗᎾᏛᏍᎩ 13 ᎢᏧᎾᏕᏘᏴᏗ 24 ᏩᏍᏘ ᎢᏧᎾᏕᏘᏴᏓ ᎠᏎᏭ ᏱᎩ ᏧᏅᏍᏗᎢ.

“ᏯᏆᏚᎳ ᎯᏍᎩ ᎠᎴᏱᎩ ᏍᎪᎯ ᎢᏳᏂᏨᎢ ᎠᎴ ᎾᏍᎩᏊ ᏱᏂᎦᎵᏍᏓ, ᏂᎬᏂᏏᏍᎨᏍᏗ Ꮓ ᎥᎿ ᏓᏁᎲᎢ, ᎠᏁᏟᏙᏗ Ꮓ ᎠᏩᏛᏗᎢ ᎠᏰᏟᏴᎢ ᏳᏙᏢᎭ. ᏯᏆᏚᎳᏃ ᏧᏂᎦᏴᎵᎨᎢ ᎤᏁᏓᏍᏗᎢ ᎠᎴ ᎤᏁᎳᏗᏓᏍᏗᎢ ᏂᎬᎯᎵᏐᎢ ᏳᎵᏍᏙᏗᎢ,” ᎠᏗᏍᎬᎢ. “ ᎾᏍᎩᏃ ᏙᏳᎢ ᏯᏆᏚᎳ ᎦᏥᎪᏩᏛᏗᎢ ᏗᎾᏛᏍᎩ ᎥᏍᎩᏳᏛᏁᏗᎢ ᏔᎷᏣ ᏧᏃᏢᏗᎢ. ᎠᏯᏃ ᎣᏂ ᎨᎢ ᎠᎴ ᎾᏍᎩᏊ 40 ᎾᎥᏂᎨᏍᏗ ᎢᏯᏆᏕᏘᏴᏓ.”

ᏲᏚᎵᏃ ᎤᎪᏗ ᎠᏕᎶᎰᎯᏍᏗ, email gwyboi77@gmail.com.

About the Author

stacie-boston@cherokee.org • 918-453-5269

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Assistant Editor – @cp_wchavez
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Cherokee author Traci Sorell’s book tells o...