4 named as 2018 Cherokee National Treasure honorees
TAHLEQUAH – Cherokee Nation citizens Loretta Shade, Troy Jackson, Lisa Rutherford and the late Annie Wildcat were recently named the 2018 Cherokee National Treasures and were set to receive the distinction during the 66th annual Cherokee National Holiday Awards Banquet in late August.
Cherokee National Treasure is an honor given by the tribe to individuals who keep the art, language and culture alive through their crafts and work.
Shade, of Hulbert; Jackson, of Tahlequah; and Rutherford, of Tahlequah, were selected as this year’s recipients, as well as Wildcat, of Park Hill, who was selected to receive the award posthumously.
“The distinction of Cherokee National Treasure is an honor reserved for individuals who dedicate themselves to the preservation of Cherokee language, art and culture,” Principal Chief Bill John Baker said. “This year’s four recipients have truly set themselves apart for their commitment, and we are proud to recognize their lifelong efforts to educate the public about our Cherokee traditions. Their commitment to the conservation of Cherokee heritage will positively impact our future generations.”
Shade, widow of former Deputy Chief Hastings Shade, was selected for her contributions to preserving the Cherokee language. As a first-language speaker, she has dedicated more than 30 years of her career to teaching the Cherokee language and culture. Now, she’s working to translate the Oklahoma Pass Objectives for the Cherokee Immersion Charter School, while also working to develop various Cherokee teaching materials. She is a certified Cherokee language teacher by both the CN and the United Keetoowah Band.
Jackson received the distinction for clay pottery and sculpture. He is an established artist that has received awards for both clay and steel sculptures, including 17 grand prizes, “Best of Classification” and “Best of Division” from the Santa Fe Art Market. As a former instructor of art at the University of Arkansas, Northeastern State University and Bacone College, he has also dedicated much of his time to sharing his culture with others. Jackson is also known for his volunteerism and leadership in the artist community, serving as president of the Tahlequah Art Guild and the Cherokee Artists Association, and most recently serving on the advisory board for the Cherokee Art Center.
Rutherford was nominated for her contributions to Cherokee pottery. She shares her passion for 18th and early 19th century Cherokee art and history and originally created her traditional pottery from clay that she would dig, hand coil and pit fire. Her interest in history and art led to a career as a living history interpreter, which allows her to share her culture and art with hundreds of visitors per year at Hunter’s Home, formerly known as the George M. Murrell Home in Tahlequah. In addition to pottery, Rutherford also enjoys creating 18th century clothing and accessories including warp skirts, beadwork and historic feather capes.
Wildcat was posthumously recognized for her passion for traditional clay bead necklaces. She was a first-language Cherokee speaker who spent 23 years creating and sharing the art of traditional clay bead necklaces, jewelry and baskets. Throughout her life, she traveled to schools and festivals where she promoted her art and culture, resulting in her necklaces selling across the country and world, including Sweden, South America, Germany, Australia, Canada and France. Wildcat also appeared in the documentary “Cherokee National Treasure” and had one of her clay bead necklaces featured on the cover of Oklahoma Magazine.