Stickball exhibit opens at the Spider Gallery
Cherokee Nation citizens Keli Gonzales, left, and JP Johnson opened a rotating exhibit in the Spider Gallery called “i-yu-s-di-gwu,” which in Cherokee translates to “any time, any place.” The exhibit covers facets of stickball such as different types of sticks and terms used by tribes and the game’s history. The gallery is in downtown Tahlequah. LINDSEY BARK/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Several types of stickball sticks adorn the walls as part of a stickball exhibit that runs through March 31 at the Spider Gallery in Tahlequah. LINDSEY BARK/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
A poster designed by Cherokee Nation citizen Keli Gonzales is one of many posters containing information about stickball at the Spider Gallery’s rotating exhibit in Tahlequah. LINDSEY BARK/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
TAHLEQUAH – The ᎢᏳᏍᏗᏇ (i-yu-s-di-quu), translated in English as “any time, any place,” stickball exhibit opened Feb. 7 at the Spider Gallery’s rotating exhibit room.
Curated by Cherokee Nation citizens JP Johnson and Keli Gonzales, the exhibit contains equipment and information surrounding one of the oldest Native American contact sports that is still played.
In the rotating gallery, several styles of stickball sticks line the walls, and each is linked with a tribe and maker/owner to which it relates. However, most of the pieces are from Johnson’s collection.
“I just wanted to see all the different style of sticks,” Johnson said. “The majority of the sticks in there are mine, but they are sticks from all different kinds of makers and different tribes. But I wanted to see all of that together because that in and of itself unifies all of the southeast (tribes) and even the northeast.”
Sticks include those from makers of the CN as well as the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, Chickasaw, Choctaw, (Muscogee) Creek, Seminole, Ojibwe and Mohawk tribes.
Johnson said he created the exhibit to perpetuate Cherokee and other tribal cultures and histories so that others might be interested in those aspects.
“I’m really Cherokee-centric,” he said. “I just look at it like, with any aspect of our culture… in the hopes that young people will see that, take pride in it and maybe get addicted to it. I want them to be addicted to their identities.”
In addition to stickball sticks, there are posters with art created by Gonzales to explain terms related to stickball such as “ball play” and “to wrestle,” both translated from terms used in the Cherokee language; two small display cases containing stickballs and an article printed about stickball; and ceremonial scratchers used as a tool for “purification” before a stickball game.
“I believe that stickball is something that can help young men learn how to control themselves, how to control their anger, have an outlet for that aggression, have an outlet for those things (such as) drugs, violence and things that happen in our communities,” Johnson said.
The exhibit runs until March 31. The Spider Gallery is at 215 S. Muskogee Ave.