Rutherford helping keep Cherokee arts alive
Cherokee Nation citizen and artist Lisa Rutherford works on a twined skirt for a display for the CN Capitol Museum at the Cherokee Arts Center in Tahlequah. Twining is one of many artistic talents Rutherford has attained during the years. LINDSEY BARK/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
An example of Cherokee Nation citizen and artist Lisa Rutherford’s work in pottery. Pottery is Rutherford’s primary art form that earned her the title of Cherokee National Treasure in 2018. LINDSEY BARK/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
A close-up of Cherokee artist Lisa Rutherford’s twine work as she weaves a skirt for a display for the Cherokee Nation Capitol Museum in Tahlequah. LINDSEY BARK/CHEROKEE PHEONIX
Cherokee artist Lisa Rutherford works on a Beloved Woman outfit made up of a one-shoulder feather cape and twine skirt at the Cherokee Arts Center for the Cherokee Nation Capitol Museum in Tahlequah. Rutherford is known for having multiple Cherokee crafts in her repertoire. LINDSEY BARK/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Shown is an example of Cherokee artist Lisa Rutherford’s work in sculpturing, influenced by the late Cherokee National Treasure Bill Glass. Rutherford during the years has learned various traditional art forms. LINDSEY BARK/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
TAHLEQUAH – After a long-time interest in art and creating, Cherokee Nation citizen Lisa Rutherford has learned and added numerous artistic trades into her repertoire during the years and enjoys sharing Cherokee culture through her work.
Since 2004, Rutherford has immersed herself into learning ceramics, pottery, beadwork, twining, shell carving and piecing together historic clothing such as feather capes.
She is best known for her pottery, which earned her the title of Cherokee National Treasure and the Anna Mitchell Award in 2018. Anna Mitchell was a Cherokee National Treasure who revived Southeastern-style pottery.
Rutherford credits her artistic know-how to learning from Cherokee National Treasures who preceded her. “I was influenced and taught by a lot of national treasures. I always think of Anna Mitchell. I just really looked up to her even before I was doing pottery.”
Rutherford’s many artistic talents come from the influences of Bill Glass for ceramics and sculpture, Anna Mitchell and Jane Osti for pottery, Martha Berry for beadwork and Knokovtee Scott for shell carving. She also credits her current job as a living history interpreter at Hunter’s Home for her take on historic 18th century-style clothing.
“When I really got into the living history, I started needing more clothing and outfits, so I made them myself,” she said.
She makes feather capes that are influenced by artists’ work in Cherokee, North Carolina. After she and two other artists worked together to learn how to make one, she’s since made nearly 30 capes since.
“They were mostly worn for warmth. De Soto has written about them in 1540, but he didn’t identify them as strictly Cherokee, he just mentioned the Indians. He didn’t identify the tribes, but he was in Cherokee territory and he talked about the different Southeast tribes wearing mantles made of brightly colored feathers,” Rutherford said.
She added that she also took up twining because of imprints found on pottery artifacts.
“The reason I wanted to learn this was because I was doing pottery and I noticed a lot of the pottery had imprints from twined fabric on it. So that’s why I first learned to do (twining). You can find twined fabric imprinted in pottery hundreds of years ago.”
She said when creating her art, she is “inspired” by artifacts.
“The workmanship on these artifacts is just amazing. They are so much better than I am. You think that I’ve got modern tools and conveniences that really the quality of the workmanship is just outstanding,” she said. “I like to say I’m inspired by the old pieces.”
Rutherford said while working with Cherokee National Treasures she loves hearing their stories in how they became the artists they are today.
“One of these most valuable things you get out of them in the class is the stories,” she said. “The history of the artists here that have taught me, they opened a lot of doors for us. Like I’ve heard from Anna, from Bill, and from Knokovtee. You get all these stories about these artists that are a generation ahead of me and what they went through to make their art and the things that they’re passing down to us.”
ᏓᎵᏆ - ᎡᎵᎪᎯᏓ-ᎤᏟᏱᎸᏍᏔᏅ ᎤᎦᏎᏍᏔᏅ ᎪᏢᏅᏗ ᎠᎴ ᎪᏢᏅᏍᎬᎢ, ᏣᎳᎩ ᎠᏰᎵ ᎨᎵ Rutherford ᎤᏕᎶᏆᎥ ᎠᎴ ᎤᎪᏗᏗ ᎤᏁᏉᏓ ᎦᎾᏕᏒᎲᏍᎬ ᏧᏓᎴᏅᏓ ᎪᏢᏅᏅᎢ ᎾᏍᎩ ᏂᏚᏓᏕᏘᏴᎲ ᎠᎴ ᎠᎵᎮᎵᎪ ᎠᏂᏣᎳᎩ ᎢᏳᎾᏚᏁᎵᏓᏍᏗ ᎠᏯᏙᎯᏍᏗᏍᎬ ᎾᏍᎩ ᏚᎸᏫᏍᏓᏁᎲᎢ.
ᏔᎵ ᎢᏯᎦᏴᎵ ᏅᎩ ᏂᏛᏓᎴᏂᏍᎩ ᏂᏓᎤᏓᎴᏅᏓ, Rutherford ᎤᏩᏌ ᎤᏜᏂᎬᏁᎸ ᎾᏍᏊ ᎢᎦᎢ ᎤᏕᎶᏆᏍᎬ ᎬᏔᏅ ᎬᏗ, ᎬᏗᏃ, ᎠᏕᎵ ᎪᏢᏔᏅ, ᏓᏢᏩᏕᏫᏍᏗᏍᎬ ᎤᏯᏍᎦ ᎠᏲᏢᏍᎬᎢ ᎠᎴ ᎤᏪᏘ ᏗᎿᏬ ᎠᎬᎭᎸᏓ ᏕᎫᏓᏛᏗᏍᎬᎢ ᎾᏍᎩ ᎯᎠᏳᏍᏗ ᎤᎩᏓᎵ ᏗᏐᎯᏢᏙᏗ.
ᎾᏍᎩ ᎠᎨᏯ ᏪᏓᏤᏢ ᏧᏓᏃᏣᎵ ᎤᏘᏯ ᏧᏬᏢᏗᎢ, ᎾᏍᎩᏃ ᎢᏳᏍᏗ ᎤᏓᏠᏒ Ꮎ ᏚᏙᏍᏛᎢ ᎠᏂᏣᎳᎩ ᏂᎬᎾᏛ ᏚᏂᏍᏆᎾᎪᏛ ᎠᎴ ᎾᏍᎩ Anna Mitchell ᎠᏥᎸᏉᏔᏅᎩ ᎾᏳ ᏔᎵ ᎢᏯᎦᏴᎵ ᏁᎳᏚ ᏧᏕᏘᏴᏒᏗᏒᎢ.
Anna Mitchell ᎠᏂᏣᎳᎩ ᏂᎬᎾᏛ ᏚᏂᏍᏆᎾᎪᏛ ᎾᏍᎩ ᎤᎴᎯᏌᏅᎩ ᎤᎦᎾᏮ ᎧᎸᎬ ᎢᏗᏢ-ᏄᏍᏛ ᏱᏗᎬᏁᏗ ᎤᏘᏯ.
Rutherford ᏓᏓᏂᎸᎢᏍᏗ ᎾᏍᎩ ᎤᏬᏢᏅᏗ ᎤᏛ-ᎢᏯᏛᏁᏗ ᎠᏗᏕᎶᏆᎮᏗ ᎾᏍᎩᎾ ᏂᏓᏳᎿᏓᎴᏅ ᎠᏂᏣᎳᎩ ᏂᎬᎾᏛ ᏚᏂᏍᏆᎾᎪᏛ ᎾᏍᎩ ᎠᎬᏱ ᎤᏱᎸᏍᏔᏅᎩ ᏏᏃ ᎯᎠ ᎠᎨᏯ. “ᎤᏂᎪᏓ ᏂᎬᎾᏛ ᏚᏂᏍᏆᎾᎪᏛ ᎨᎦᏑᏰᏗ ᏳᏅᏂᏌᏓ ᎠᎴ ᎬᏪᏲᏅᎩ. Anna Mitchell ᏂᎪᎯᎸ ᏥᏓᏅᏖᏍᎪ. ᏙᏳ ᏕᏥᏓᏂᎸᎬᎢ ᎾᏍᏏ ᎤᏘᏯ ᏂᏗᎪᏢᏍᎬᎾ ᏥᎨᏒᎢ.”
Rutherford’s ᎤᎪᏗᏗ ᎤᏬᏢᏅᏗ ᎤᎦᏙᎲᏒ ᏂᏓᏳᏓᎴᏅ ᎾᎢ Bill Glass ᏅᏩᏂᏌᏅᎩ ᎾᏍᎩᎾ ᎬᏔᏅ ᏅᏘᏯ ᎠᎴ ᎠᏲᏢᏅᎢ, Anna Mitchell ᎠᎴ Jane Osti ᎾᏍᎩ ᎤᏘᏯ, Martha Berry ᎾᏍᎩᎾ ᎠᏕᎵ ᎪᏢᏔᏅ ᎠᎴ Knokovtee Scott ᎾᏍᎩᎾ ᎤᏯᏍᎦ ᎠᏲᏢᏍᎬᎢ. ᎠᎨᏯ ᎾᏍᏉ ᏓᏓᏂᎸᎢᏍᏗ ᏃᏊ ᏥᎩ ᏧᎸᏫᏍᏓᏁᏗᎢ ᎾᏍᎩ ᎠᎵᏖᎸᎲᏍᎬ ᏂᏧᎵᏍᏔᏅᏒ ᎠᏁᏢᏗᏍᎬ ᎾᎿ ᎦᏃᎭᎵᏙᎯ ᏧᏪᏅᏒ ᎾᏍᎩᎾ ᎤᏪᏘ ᏁᎳᏚᏏᏁ ᏍᎪᎯᏥᏆ ᏧᏕᏘᏴᏌᏗᏒ-ᎠᏣᏅᏍᏗ ᏧᎾᏄᏬᏍᏗ.
“ᏙᏳ ᎠᏆᎴᏅᎭ ᎾᏍᎩᎾᎢ ᎠᎵᏖᎸᎲᏍᎬ ᏂᏧᎵᏍᏔᏅᏒᎢ, ᎠᏆᎴᏅᎲ ᎤᏚᎸᏗ ᎾᏩᎵᏍᏓᏁᎸᎢ ᎤᏟ ᎢᎦᎢ ᏗᎾᏬ ᎠᎴ ᏗᎾᏬᏍᏗ, ᎾᏍᎩᏃ ᎠᏋᏌ ᏓᏬᏢᏅᎢ,” ᎠᎨᏯ ᏄᏪᏒᎩ.
ᎠᎨᏯ ᏕᎪᏢᏍᎪ ᎤᎩᏓᎵ ᏗᏐᎯᏢᏙᏗ ᎾᏍᎩ ᎾᎢ ᎠᏃᏢᏅᏍᎩ ᏚᏂᎸᏫᏍᏓᏁᎸ ᎢᏳᏅᏂᏌᏓ ᎾᎾᎢ ᏣᎳᎩᎯ, ᎤᏴᏢ ᎦᏯᎴᏅᎢ. ᎠᎨᏯ ᎣᏂᏗᏢ ᎠᎴ ᏔᎵ ᏐᎢ ᎠᏃᏢᏅᏍᎩ ᎢᏧᎳᎭ ᏚᏂᎸᏫᏍᏓᏁᎸᎩ ᎾᎢ ᎤᎾᏕᎶᏆᏍᏗ ᎢᎬᏗ ᎤᏃᏢᏗᎢ, ᎠᎨᏯ ᎣᏂ ᏧᏩᎫᏔᏅᏒ ᏦᏍᎪ ᎾᎥ ᏗᏐᎯᏢᏙᏗ ᏧᏬᏢᏅᎯ.
“ᎾᏍᎩ ᏬᎪᏛ ᎨᏒ ᎠᎾᎳᎪᎾᏗᏍᎬ ᏓᎾᎾᏬᏍᎬᎢ. Ꮧ ᏐᏙ ᎤᏬᏪᎳᏅᎯ ᎾᏍᎩᎾᎢ ᎢᏳᏍᏗ ᏌᏊ ᎢᏯᎦᏴᎵ ᎯᏍᎩᏥᏆ ᏅᎩᏍᎪᎯ ᏧᏕᏘᏴᏌᏗᏒ, ᎠᏎᏃ Ꮭ ᏱᏚᏬᏍᏔᏁ ᎾᏍᎩᎾ ᎠᏂᏣᎳᎩ ᎨᏒᎢ, ᎾᏍᎩᏃ ᎠᏂᏴᏫᏯᏊ ᏚᏁᎢᏍᏔᏅᎩ. ᎾᏍᎩᏃ Ꮭ ᏓᏂᎳᏍᏓᏢ ᏱᏚᏬᏍᏔᏁᎢ, ᎠᏎᏍᎩᏂ ᏣᎳᎩᎯ ᎢᎬᎾᏕᎾ ᏍᎦᏚᎩ ᎠᎴ ᎾᏍᎩ ᏚᏁᏍᏔᏁ ᎠᏂᏐᎢ ᏓᏂᎳᏍᏓᏢ ᎤᎦᎾᏮ ᎧᎸᎬ ᎢᏗᏢ ᏓᏁᎲᎢ ᎾᏍᎩ ᎾᏃ ᏚᎾᏄᏮ ᏧᏰᎦᏟ ᏧᏍᎪᏍᏗ ᏗᏑᏫᏛ ᏧᎩᏓᏟ ᏗᎪᏢᏔᏅᎩ,” Rutherford ᏄᏪᏒᎩ.
ᎠᎨᏯ ᎤᏁᏉᏍᏔᏅ ᎾᏍᎩ ᎾᏍᏊ ᎠᏍᏕᏯᏍᏗ ᎤᎴᏅᎲᎢ ᏂᎦᎵᏍᏙᏗᏍᎬᏃ ᏓᏟᎶᏍᏛ ᏚᏂᏩᏛᎲ ᎾᎿ ᎤᏘᏯ ᏧᏪᏘ.
“ᎾᏍᎩᏃ ᏄᏰᎵᏛ ᏂᎦᎵᏍᏙᏗᏍᎬ ᎠᏩᏚᎸᎲ ᎠᏆᏕᎶᏆᏍᏗ ᎯᎠ ᎤᏘᏯ ᏕᎪᏢᏍᎬ ᎠᎴ ᎠᏩᏕᎶᎰᏒ ᎾᏍᎩ ᎤᎪᏓ ᎤᏘᏯ ᏂᏚᏍᏛ ᏓᏟᎶᏍᏛ ᎾᏍᎩᎾ ᎠᏍᏕᏯᏍᏗ ᎪᏢᏔᏅ ᏄᏍᏛᎢ. ᎾᏍᎩᏃ ᎢᏳᏍᏗ ᎠᎬᏱ ᏣᏯᏕᎶᏆᎲ (ᎠᏍᏕᏯᏍᏗ) ᏱᎬᏁᏗᎢ. ᎠᏍᏕᏯᏍᏗ ᎪᏢᏔᏅ ᎾᎿᎢ ᎤᏘᏯ ᏴᏩᏔ ᎾᏍᎩ ᏍᎪᎯᏍᏈ ᎢᏧᏕᏘᏴᏓ.”
ᎠᎨᏯ ᏄᏪᏒ ᎾᏳ ᎪᏢᏍᎬ ᏧᏓᎴᏅᏓ ᎪᏢᏍᎬᎢ, ᎠᎨᏯ ᏄᏍᏛ “ᎤᏓᎵᎦᎵᏍᏔᏅ” ᎾᏍᎩ ᏧᏪᏘ ᎪᏢᏔᏅᎢ.
“ᎾᏍᎩᏃ ᏧᏪᏘ ᏄᏍᏛ ᎤᏃᏢᏅᏗ ᏙᏳᎢ ᎠᏂᏏᎾᏏ ᎨᏒᎢ. ᎾᏍᎩᏛ ᏙᏳ ᎤᎪᏗᏓ ᏓᏤᎳ ᏏᏃ ᎠᏯ ᎨᏒᎢ.
ᎾᏍᎩ ᎠᏓᏅᏘᏗᎨᏒ ᎪᎯᏥᎩ ᎪᏢᏔᏅ ᏗᎬᏔᏂᏓᏍᏗ ᎠᎩᎿᎢ ᎠᎴ ᎠᎯᏗᎨᏒᎢ ᎾᎢ ᏙᏳ ᏃᏌᏅᎢ ᎾᏍᎩ ᏄᏍᏛ ᎤᏃᏢᏅᎢ ᏙᏳ ᎤᎸᏈᏍᏗ,” ᎠᎨᏯ ᏄᏪᏒᎩ. “ᎠᎩᎸᏬᏗ ᏯᎩᏪᏍᏗ ᎾᏍᎩ ᎠᎩᏓᎵᎦᎵᏍᏔᏅ ᎾᎢ ᎤᏪᏘ ᏧᏃᏢᏅᎯ.”
Rutherford ᏄᏪᏒᎩ ᎾᏳ ᎠᏂᏣᎳᎩ ᏂᎬᎾᏛ ᏚᏂᏍᏆᎾᎪᏛ ᎾᏳ ᏥᏚᏂᎸᏫᏍᏓᏁᎲ ᎤᎸᏉᏗ ᎠᏛᎩᏍᎬ ᎠᏂᏃᎮᏢᏍᎬ ᎾᏍᎩ ᎠᏃᏢᏅᏍᎩ ᏄᎾᎵᏍᏔᏅᎩ ᎾᎢ ᎪᎯᏥᎩ.
“ᎯᎠ ᎾᏍᎩ ᎢᏳᏍᏗ ᏬᎵᏍᎨᏗᏴᎢ ᏔᏕᎶᏆᎢ ᎾᏍᎩ ᏓᎾᏕᏲᎲᏍᎬ ᎾᎢ ᎠᏂᏃᎮᏢᏍᎬᎢ,” ᎠᎨᏯ ᏄᏪᏒᎩ. “ᎾᏍᎩᏃ ᏂᏧᎵᏍᏔᏅᏒ ᎾᎢ ᎠᏃᏢᏅᏍᎩ ᎠᏂ ᎬᏪᏲᏅᎩ, ᏥᏈᏍᏗ ᏗᎬᏍᏩᏚᎮᎸ ᏗᎦᎶᎯᏍᏗᎢ. ᎾᏍᎩᏯᎢ ᎦᏥᏯᏛᎦᏁᎸ ᎾᏍᎩᎾ Anna, Bill, ᎠᎴ Knokovtee. ᎯᎠᏃ ᎠᏃᏢᏅᏍᎩ ᎤᏂᏃᎮᏓ ᏂᎦᏓ ᎠᏕᎶᏆᏍᏗ ᎾᏍᎩᎾᎢ ᏄᎾᏓᏁᏟᏴᏒ ᎢᎬᏱᏗᏢ ᎠᏁᏙᎯ ᏏᏃ ᎠᏯ ᎨᏒᎢ ᎠᎴ ᎢᏳᏍᏗ ᏅᎾᏛᏁᎸ ᏧᏂᎶᏒ ᎠᏃᏢᏍᎬᎢ ᎠᎴ ᎢᏳᏍᏗ ᎠᎾᏓᏁᏢᏍᎬ ᎢᎦᏠᏯᏍᏙᏗᎢ.”
– Translated by John Ross