Ice passes on loom weaving knowledge
United Keetoowah Band citizen and Cherokee National Treasure Dorothy Lee Ice teaches a loom weaving class on Dec. 21 at the Cherokee Arts Center in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. LINDSEY BARK/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
United Keetoowah Band citizen and Cherokee National Treasure Dorothy Lee Ice, right, helps loom weaving student Susie Thompson with warping, or threading, a loom on Dec. 21 at the Cherokee Arts Center in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. LINDSEY BARK/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
A student pulls yarn through the warp of a loom to create a bookmark design at a loom weaving class taught by Dorothy Lee Ice on Dec. 21 at the Cherokee Arts Center in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. LINDSEY BARK/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
BRIGGS, Okla. – For the past 65 years, United Keetoowah Band citizen and Cherokee National Treasure Dorothy Lee Ice has been loom weaving, an art form used to make items such as belts, scarves, headbands, bookmarks, bracelets and shawls.
Ice, of Briggs, became an employee of the Sequoyah Indian Weavers in the 1940s when she was 15 years old. She became interested in weaving after watching weaver Lucille Hair.
After a time, her curiosity brought her back to watch the loom weavers. Bill Ames, a man from New York who ran the SIW, approached Ice and asked if she would like to learn. She did not hesitate and was employed that day. Her first woven piece was a blanket.
“I just loved it when I first started. What got me interested, mostly, was (I) just got in there and started. I didn’t have to ask any questions,” Ice said.
She said loom weaving consists of using a wooden loom, stringing or threading a warp and using shuttles on the loom to create a design. Ice said she only uses four designs when weaving.
“I use plain weave, hit and miss, herring bone and diamond. That’s all I do,” she said.
Ice said SIW employees were paid by “piece work.” Once an item was completed John Ketcher, of the Sequoyah Vocational School and former Tribal Councilor, inspected it. He was able to spot a flaw instantly, and if it was not good, the weaver had to re-create the piece. Once items passed inspected, they were shipped to New York to be sold.
She said at the time, along with the Briggs weaving hall, there were weaving halls ran by Ames in Bull Hollow, Peavine and Jay.
Ice worked for the Briggs SIW until 1960 and again in 1964 until it was shut down because of robberies and a lack of weaving material.
She continued to loom weave on her own and only created made-to-order items. She said loom weaving remains the same as the art form has not evolved much from the time she started.
She became a Cherokee National Treasure in 1991 for her knowledge of loom weaving and said that meant she “better be learning more and teaching more.”
Ice, 81, now teaches classes at the Cherokee Arts Center in Tahlequah. The classes are commissioned through the Cherokee Nation.
“(Out of) the Cherokees, I think I am the only one that is weaving. I would like to pass it on, and all I want to hear from them (students) is ‘I learned this from so and so, and I taught so and so.’ That’s all I want to hear from them. I just want to pass it on. I don’t want it to die,” Ice said. “If they want to learn and I know it, and I am able to teach them, I would like to teach them. I think it would be important for them to learn all of the traditions so that they can survive if hard times come.”
Aside from loom weaving, Ice teaches reading and writing of the Cherokee language, her first language, and teaches others how to make shackles for stomp dances. As a UKB citizen, she also received that tribe’s Tradition Keeper Award for loom weaving in 2014.
She also worked for Briggs Schools for many years as a teacher’s assistant and bus driver. In her spare time, she likes to clog dance at the senior citizens center in Tahlequah.
ᎠᏥᎾ ᏗᏡᎬᎢ, ᎣᎦᎳᎰᎹ. – 65 ᎢᏧᏕᏘᏴᏓ ᏥᏙᏛᎦᎶᎯ, United Keetoowah Band ᎨᎳ ᎠᎴ ᏣᎳᎩᎯ ᎠᏰᎵ ᎢᎬᎾᏕᎾ ᎠᏃᏢᏅᏍᎩ Dorothy Lee Ice ᏗᎬᏍᎩ, ᎾᏍᎩᏃ ᏗᏓᏠᏍᏗ ᏕᎬᏍᎪᎢ, ᏗᏯᏟᏗ, ᏗᎵᏍᏆᏃᏍᏗ, ᎪᏪᎵᎢ ᏗᎪᏣᎸᏗᎢ, ᏗᎵᏰᏑᏝᏗᏍᏗ ᎠᎴ ᏗᏐᏢᏗ.
Ice Z, ᎠᏥᎾ ᏗᏡᎬᎢ ᎡᎯ, ᏧᎸᏫᏍᏓᏁᎯ ᏄᎵᏍᏔᏅᎢ ᎥᎿ ᏏᏉᏯ ᎠᏂᏴᏫᏯᎢ ᏗᏅᏍᎩ 1940s ᏂᏛᏓᎴᏂᏍᎩ 15 ᎢᏳᏕᏘᏴᏓ ᏥᎨᏒᎢ. Lucille Hair Ꮓ ᎤᎦᏙᏍᏛᎢ ᏕᎬᏍᎬᎢ ᎾᎯᏳᏃ ᎤᏚᎸᎲᎢ ᎤᏕᎶᏆᏍᏗᎢ.
ᎤᏬᎯᏍᏔᏅᏃ, ᎤᎦᏛᏓᏁᎲᏃ ᎢᎤᎷᏨᎢ ᏧᎦᏙᏍᏙᏗᎢ ᏗᏅᏍᎩ. Bill Ames, ᏄᏯᎩ ᏂᏓᏳᎶᏒᎢ ᎠᏍᎦᏯ ᎾᏍᎩᏃ ᎤᏂᎩᏍᏗᏗᏒᎢ SIW, ᎾᏍᎩᏃ ᎤᎷᏤᎸᎢ Ice ᎠᎴ ᎠᎦᏛᏛᏅᎢ ᎢᏳ ᏳᏚᎵᎠ ᎤᏕᎶᏆᏍᏗᎢ. ᎥᏝᏃ ᏳᏬᎯᏕᏗ ᎠᎴ ᎾᎯᏳ ᎢᎪᎯ ᎠᏥᎾᏢᏅᎢ. ᎢᎬᏱᏃ ᏗᎿᏬᏍᏙᏗ ᎤᏬᏢᏅᎢ.
“ᎠᎩᎸᏉᏔᏅᎢ ᎾᎯᏳᎢ ᎠᏆᎴᏅᎯ. ᎢᏳᏍᏗᏃ ᎨᏒᎢ ᎠᎩᎬᏛᏅᎢ, ᏭᎪᏛᎢ, ᎠᏆᎴᏅᎲᏊ. ᎥᏝ ᎪᎱᏍᏗ ᎠᏆᏛᏗ ᏱᎨᏎᎢ,” ᎠᏗᏍᎬᎢ Ice.
ᎾᏍᎩᏃ ᎢᎧᏃᎮᏍᎬᎢ ᏓᏅᏍᎬᎢ ᎾᏍᎩᏃ ᎬᏙᏗ ᎠᏓ ᎪᏢᏅᏔᏅᎢ ᏗᎫᏣᏛᏗᎢ, ᏛᏏᎳᏛᏍᎬᎢ ᎠᎴᏱᎩ ᎥᎬᏗᏍᎬᎢ ᏥᏳ ᎥᎿ ᏓᏏᎳᏛᎢ ᎾᏍᎩᏃ ᏗᏟᎶᏍᏙᏗᎢ. ᎢᎧᏃᎮᏍᎬᏃ Ice ᎾᏍᎩ ᏅᎩᏊ ᏱᎦᎢ ᏗᎬᏟᎶᏍᏙᏗ ᏕᎬᏍᎬᎢ.
“ᎾᏍᎩᏃ ᏂᏓᏟᎶᏍᏛᎾ ᏂᎬᏁᎰᎢ, ᎠᎴ ᏧᏓᏅᏛᎢ, ᏧᎾᎶᎢᏓ ᎠᎴ ᏅᎩ ᏧᏅᏏᏯ. ᎥᏍᎩᏭ ᏂᎦᎣᎢ ᏂᎦᏛᏁᎰᎢ,” ᎠᏗᏍᎬᎢ.
Ice ᎢᎧᏃᎮᏍᎬᎢ SIW ᏧᏂᎸᏫᏍᏓᏁᎯ ᎨᎦᏈᏴᎡᎲᎢ “ᎪᏢᏅᏗᎢ” ᏳᏂᏍᏆᏓᏃ John Ketcher, ᎥᎿ ᏏᏉᏲᎢ ᏧᎾᏕᎶᏆᏍᏗᎢ ᎠᎴ ᏗᎦᎳᏫᎩ ᎢᏳᎵᏍᏔᏅᎢ, ᎠᎪᎵᏰᏍᎬᎢ. ᎩᎳᏊᏃ ᎢᏴᎢ ᏯᏕᎶᎰᎯ ᎨᏒ ᎪᎱᏍᏗ ᏳᏍᏗ, ᎠᎴ ᏚᏳᎪᏛᏃ ᏂᎨᏒᎾ ᏱᎩ, ᎾᏍᎩᏃ ᏗᎬᏍᎩ ᎢᎤᏬᏝᎯᏐᏗ ᎨᏒᎢ. ᎾᏊᏃ ᎣᏍᏓ ᏱᎬᏁᎸᎢ ᏱᎩ, ᏄᏯᎩᎢ ᏗᏜ ᏱᎾᏅᏂᏗ ᎨᏒᎢ ᎥᎿᏃ ᎢᏴᎢ ᏫᏓᏂᎾᏕᎬᎢ.
ᎢᎧᏃᎮᏍᎬᎢᏃ ᎾᎯᏳᎢ ᏥᎨᏒᎢ, ᎠᏥᏃᎢ ᏗᏡᎬᎢ ᏗᏅᏍᎩ, ᎯᎸᏍᎩᏃ ᏂᏚᏓᎴ ᏕᎪᏢᏒᎢ ᎥᎿ Bull Hollow, Peavine ᎠᎴ ᏜᏱᎪᎢ.
Ice Z ᎥᎿ ᎠᏥᏃᎢ ᏗᏡᎬᎢ SIW ᏚᎸᏫᏍᏓᏁᎸᎢ 1960 ᎤᏕᏘᏴᏌᏗᏒᎢ ᎠᎴ ᎠᏏᏉ 1964 ᏩᏂᏍᏚᎲᏍᎬᎢ ᏱᎪᎯᏓ ᏂᏗᎦᎵᏍᏙᏗᎭ ᎠᏂᏌᎲᏍᎬᎢ ᎠᎴ ᎪᎱᏍᏗ ᎬᏔᏂᏓᏍᏗ ᎧᏂᎬᎬᎢ.
ᎠᏎᏃ ᏂᎬᎯᎵᏐᎢ ᏕᎬᏍᎬᎢ ᎤᏩᏌᏊ ᎠᎴ ᎬᏂᏳᏃ ᎩᎶᎢ ᏳᏔᏲᏟ ᎪᎱᏍᏗ ᎾᎯᏳᏃ ᎪᏢᏍᎪᎢ. ᎢᎧᏃᎮᏍᎬᏃ ᏓᏅᏍᎬᎢ ᎠᏏᏉ ᎤᏠᏱᏊ ᎥᏝ ᎥᏍᎩ ᏱᎦᎢ ᎤᏓᏁᏟᏴᏓ ᏱᎩ ᎾᎯᏳᎢ ᏗᎬᏩᏓᎴᏅᎢ.
ᏣᎳᎩᎯ ᎠᏰᎵ ᎢᎬᎾᏕᎾ ᎠᏃᏢᏅᏍᎩ ᎤᎾᏓᏡᎬᎢ ᎠᎨᎳᏛᎢ 1991 ᎤᏕᏘᏴᏌᏗᏒᎢ ᏥᎨᏒᎢ ᏕᎬᏍᎬᏃ ᎾᏍᎩ ᎢᏳᏰᏟᏗ ᎠᎴ ᎢᎧᏃᎮᏍᎬᎢ ᎾᏍᎩᏃ ᎢᏳᏰᏟᏗ “ᎠᏎ ᎤᎪᏗ ᎤᏕᎶᏆᏍᏗ ᎠᎴ ᎤᎪᏗ ᏧᏕᏲᏗ.”
Ice, 81, ᎾᏊᏃ ᏓᏕᏲᎲᏍᎪᎢ ᎥᎿ ᏣᎳᎩᎯ ᎤᏃᏢᏅᏗᎢ ᎤᏙᏢᏒᎢ ᎥᎿ ᏓᎵᏆ. ᎾᏍᎩᏃ ᏓᏕᏲᎲᏍᎪᎢ ᏣᎳᎩᎯ ᎠᏰᎵ ᎤᏂᎧᏅᎢ.
“(ᎾᏂᎥᏃ) ᎾᏍᎩᏃ ᎠᏂᏣᎳᎩ, ᎠᏯᏃ ᏂᎨᎵᏍᎬᏃ ᎠᏯᏃ ᎠᏋᏌ ᏕᎬᏍᎪᎢ. ᏯᏆᏚᎳ ᎩᎶ ᏥᏰᏲᏗ, ᎠᎴ ᎠᏆᏚᎵᏍᎪᎢ ᎠᏆᏛᎪᏗᎢ Ꮎ (ᏗᎾᏕᎶᏆᏍᎩ) ᎾᏍᎩᏃ ᏥᏕᎶᏆᎡᎸᎢ, ᎠᎴ ᎾᏍᎩ Ꮎ ᏥᏰᏲᏅᎢ.”
ᎥᏍᎩᏊ ᏱᎦᎢ ᏯᏆᏚᎳ ᎠᏆᏛᎪᏗᎢ ᎥᏍᎩ ᎾᏂᏪᏍᎬᎢ. ᎠᏆᏚᎵᎠ ᏗᎦᏥᏰᏲᏗᎢ. ᎥᏝ ᏯᏆᏚᎵᎠ ᎤᏂᏲᎱᏎᏗᎢ,” ᎠᏗᏍᎬᎢ Ice. “ᎢᏳᏃ ᏳᎾᏚᎵᎠ ᎤᎾᏕᎶᏆᏍᏗᎢ ᎠᎴ Ꮓ ᏯᏆᏂᏔ, ᎠᎴ ᎾᏍᎩᏊ ᏱᏕᎦᏥᏰᏲᎲᎦ, ᏯᏆᏚᎳ ᏗᎦᏥᏰᏲᏗᎢ. ᏂᎨᎵᏍᎬᏃ ᎤᎵᏍᎨᏗᏳ ᎤᎾᏕᎶᏆᏍᏗᎢ ᏂᎦᏓ ᎾᏍᎩ ᏱᎦᏛᏁᎵᏓᏍᏗᎢ ᎾᏍᎩᏃ ᎬᏩᏂᎦᏛᎴᎢᏍᏗᎢ ᎨᏎᏍᏗ ᎢᎸᎯᏳᎢ.”
ᏕᎬᏍᎬᏃ ᏔᎷᎬᏘ, Ice Ꮓ ᏓᏕᏲᎲᏍᎪᎢ ᏧᏂᎪᎵᏰᏗᎢ ᎠᎴ ᏧᏃᏪᎶᏗᎢ ᏣᎳᎩ ᎦᏬᏂᎯᏍᏗᎢ, ᎾᏍᎩ ᎢᎬᏱᎢ ᎤᏬᏂᎯᏍᏗᎢ, ᎠᎴ ᏕᎨᏲᎲᏍᎪᎢ ᎠᏂᏐᎢ ᏓᎦᏏ ᏗᏅᏌᏛᏗ ᏧᏃᏢᏅᏗᎢ ᎾᏍᎩ ᎦᏘᏲᎢ ᏧᎾᏅᏌᏛᏗ. ᎾᏍᎩᏃ UKB ᎨᎳ ᏥᎩ, ᎾᏍᎩᏃ ᎠᏂᏍᏓᏢᎢ ᎢᏳᎾᏛᏁᎵᏓᏍᏗᎢ ᎠᎾᎵᏏᏅᏗᏍᎩ ᎠᎾᎵᎮᎵᏍᏗᏍᎬᎢ ᎤᏂᏁᎸᎢ ᎠᏓᏁᏗ ᎾᏍᎩ ᏕᎬᏍᎬᎢ ᎢᏳᏰᏟᏗ ᎾᎯᏳᎢ ᏥᎨᏒᎢ 2014.
ᎠᎴ ᎾᏍᎩ ᎠᏥᎾ ᏗᏡᎬᎢ ᏧᎾᏕᎶᏆᏍᏗᎢ ᏚᎸᏫᏍᏓᏁᎸᎢ ᎯᎸᏍᎩ ᎢᏧᏕᏘᏴᏓ ᏗᏕᏲᎲᏍᎩ ᎠᏍᏕᎵᏍᎩ ᎠᎴ ᏗᏂᏲᏟ ᏓᏯᏅᎯᏙᎯ ᎠᎯᎵᏙᎯ. ᎪᎱᏍᏗ ᏄᏓᎴᎢ ᎤᏛᏅᏗ ᏂᎨᏒᎾ ᏱᎩ, ᎤᎸᏉᏗᏃ ᏗᎴᏅᎢ ᎤᎵᏍᎩᏍᏗᎢ ᎥᎿ ᎤᎾᏓᏂᎵᎨᎢ ᎠᏰᎵ ᎤᏁᏓᏍᏗᎢ ᏗᎪᏢᏒᎢ ᎥᎿ ᏓᎵᏆ.
– Translated by David Crawler