Late Cherokee author Conley honored with literary landmark plaque
Robert J. Conley
CUSHING – Robert J. Conley, the late Cherokee author and Cherokee Nation citizen, will be honored Nov. 7 for his “contributions to the literary world” at the Cushing Public Library, the town in which he was born.
The Robert J. Conley literary landmark plaque will be unveiled at the library by the late author’s wife, Evelyn, who is a United Keetoowah Band citizen.
“I think it’s a wonderful tribute to Robert and his work,” said Evelyn. “There are people from his birthplace town who are very proud of him or they wouldn’t have worked so diligently to get this landmark to be placed for him to recognize his contributions and to recognize his legacy.”
Evelyn said her late husband “deserves” the award and that if he were there he would be “soaking it up.”
“He relished feedback from readers, other writers and the public in general. I think it’s really a homage to Robert, quite appropriate for a man with a life and career like his,” she said. “As a Cherokee author, I’m sure he’s not the first one to be honored nor will he be the last, but he would relish in the idea that he’s getting this great, wonderful tribute.”
To make this happen, Michael Hanes, Cushing Public Library director, said the library partnered with Friends of the Cushing Public Library and Friends of the Libraries in Oklahoma to recognize Robert.
“We think it’s wonderful that we have the opportunity to recognize him with him being born in Cushing,” he said. “I wasn’t aware that any authors were born in Cushing so when I heard about this I was like, ‘well, this would be a great way to honor him.’”
Hanes said the library is “honored” to be a part of recognizing Robert’s “contributions to the literary world.” He added that it’s important to share stories such as Robert did.
“I think it’s just important to share your story no matter what tribe you’re with or who you are. We all have a story to tell,” he said.
Robert’s first novel was published in 1986 and he has more than 80 books, short stories and poems published. Some of his novels such as “Mountain Windsong” and “The Witch of Goingsnake” are still in production thanks to The University of Oklahoma Press.
“’Mountain Windsong,’ which is a Trail of Tears story…and ‘The Witch of Goingsnake’ stays in print because those two books get used a lot in Native Literature classes,” Evelyn said.
She added that “The Cherokee Nation: A History” and “A Cherokee Encyclopedia” are still in production through The University of New Mexico Press.
Evelyn said she keeps “a certain amount of inventory” for people looking for other books from Robert and that they can email her at email@example.com
As for the dedication ceremony, attendance will be limited and those who attend are asked to wear a mask. For those who can’t attend, Hanes said a recording of the ceremony will be available online at http://cushinglibrary.okpls.org/