The Cherokee National Youth Choir’s album “Celebration” was named Best Pop Recording during the 17th annual Native American Music Awards on Oct. 14. COURTESY
Cherokee National Youth Choir wins NAMMY
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Cherokee National Youth Choir’s album “Celebration” was named Best Pop Recording during the 17th annual Native American Music Awards on Oct. 14.
This year’s award marks the fifth honor – referred to as a NAMMY – the Cherokee National Youth Choir has garnered since the choir’s inception in 2000. The youth choir was also nominated for Group of the Year and Record of the Year for its latest album.
“We were so excited to win Best Pop Recording at the Native American Music Awards,” Mary Kay Henderson, Cherokee National Youth Choir director, said. “Our CD, ‘Celebration,’ is a collection of Motown music and has been a fun way to encourage our young people to learn our language. Language teacher and choir coordinator Kathy Sierra and I would like to thank everyone who took the time to vote for the Cherokee National Youth Choir.”
The “Celebration” record is a combination of the 2017 Cherokee National Youth Choir and its soloists and members of the 2006 youth choir. Songs on the “Celebration” album include “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” “Celebration,” “Lean On Me,” “My Girl,” “Respect,” “My Guy,” “Stand By Me” and “We Are Family.” Sierra translated the lyrics from English to Cherokee for the recording.
The Cherokee National Youth Choir has performed dozens of songs in the Cherokee language in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and at venues across the country, including the Oklahoma State Capitol. The choir also previously performed with such legendary artists as Foreigner, Dolly Parton, Vince Gill, Roy Clark, Kenny Rogers and the Oak Ridge Boys.
The choir is made up of 30 to 40 young Cherokees from northeastern Oklahoma communities. Members are middle and high school youth in grades 6-12. The students compete in auditions every year for inclusion in the group.
“The Cherokee Nation Youth Choir has proven time and time again to be excellent cultural ambassadors for our tribal government and our people,” Principal Chief Bill John Baker said. “We are so proud of them for bringing home another NAMMY honor. The accomplishments of these young people should be celebrated, as they are learning and utilizing the Cherokee language. Additionally, they have volunteered their time and talents to be part of the youth choir, which is an opportunity to grow their leadership skills. Congratulations to everyone involved with this wonderful achievement.”
The choir’s newest album, “Just Jesus,” as well as past albums will be available for purchase later this year at Cherokee Nation Gift Shop locations and online at www.CherokeeGiftShop.com
MUSKOGEE – Team Phoenix made up of staff located at the Cherokee Nation’s Three Rivers Health Center is inviting powwow dancers, drummers, food vendors, sponsors and volunteers to assist with and take part in the first “Warriors for A Cure Powwow” to fight cancer.
The powwow will be held from 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. on Aug. 11 at the health center located at 1001 S. 41st St. East.
The Head Man, Head Lady and Head Singer are Tim Washee, Asa Cunningham-Concha and Jamison Concha, respectively. Junior Head Man is Grayson Miller, and Junior Head Lady is Spring Chalakee. Christopher Moore will be the arena director, and Greg Bilby will be the master of ceremonies.
The powwow is a family-friendly event. No alcohol or tobacco is allowed.
For more information, call Derek Birdtail at 918-200-3022 or Lora Cortez at 918-839-1372.
TAHLEQUAH – The Cherokee National Treasures hosted their first Children’s and Student Art Show on July 7 in the Tsa-La-Gi Community Ballroom featuring artwork made by youth and adult students who were mentored and trained by Cherokee National Treasures.
Some student artists who presented are already accomplished artists but wanted to learn another artistic medium. Such was the case with Cherokee Nation citizen Harry Oosahwee.
“I’ve been carving stone and wood for years, and I’ve been painting for years” he said. “And so I decided I wanted to do something different. And when (Cherokee National Treasure) Bill Glass’s class came along, I decided to take it. I’ve really enjoyed working with ceramics, and think it might be a new medium I’ll start really working on.”
Oosahwee wasn’t the only adult Cherokee looking for a new artistic avenue. CN artist Tana Washington and Oosahwee’s daughter, Sedelta, along with several other CN citizens, signed up for the mentorship program. That is fine with CNT Committee Chairwoman Jane Osti, who said the mentorship program is crucial for developing future artists.
“Every treasure…has from two to 10 students.” Osti said. “The mentors who are teaching are experts in their field. In many cases, some of them have taught for 40 and 50 years, and they have knowledge that we’re going to lose if we don’t teach someone. This program is teaching a lot of people and they’re doing very well. In some instances, we have students who could actually go out and teach. And whether they teach the next generation or a daughter or grandchild, it’s going to produce more people practicing our cultural arts.”
Secretary of State Chuck Hoskin Jr. said he was pleased with how the mentoring program is reaching communities. He said it’s another example of how the CNTs are helping save traditional Cherokee arts.
“Primarily their jobs have been to nominate or recommend new National Treasures, but they’ve been doing a lot of other things in the last few years. This student art competition is just a great example of how they’re getting artwork into the communities and inspiring new artists to get involved,” Hoskin said.
For more information on the CNT mentorship program, call 918-453-5728.
TAHLEQUAH – Each year before the Cherokee National Holiday, a chosen few Cherokee Nation citizens who have shown exceptional knowledge of Cherokee art and culture receive a Cherokee National Treasure designation. In 2017, Mike Dart and Jesse Hummingbird earned that honor, joining 94 others who have earned the title since 1988.
Dart was named CNT for his traditional and contemporary basketry. A resident of Fairfield in Adair County, he began weaving baskets at age 16, but developed an interest in it earlier in life watching his grandmother construct baskets with native materials she found. In his baskets, Dart uses commercial and traditional reed, including honeysuckle, buck brush and wood splints. He also uses natural dyes such as black walnut, bloodroot and bois d’arc wood. He said even in his contemporary baskets he still implements traditional Cherokee elements.
Being mostly self-taught, Dart spent years perfecting his technique, and in 2005 he entered his first art show. Since then he’s won numerous awards, including Best of Show at the 2016 Artesian Arts Festival in Sulphur with a replica of a Southeastern Burden Basket woven from wood splints and colored with natural dye. The basket also appeared in the book “Oklahoma Cherokee Baskets.” Other awards include Best of Show at the 2017 Native American Heritage Festival in Cushing, third place and judges’ choice at the 2017 Cherokee Art Market in Catoosa and first place at the 2018 the Trail of Tears Art Show in Tahlequah. Along with winning awards, his baskets can are in private collections and museums, including the Briscoe Museum of Western Art in San Antonia, Texas, and the Cherokee National Museum in Tahlequah.
Dart said he’s dedicated to the preservation of Cherokee basketry and teaches the art. He said the most important thing is to make sure it continues to the next generation and generations to come.
“My main goal I have right now is focusing on my students. I want them to be able to, you know, if something happened to me, I want them to be able to continue doing this and pass it on. I want them to be successful more than me, and I think if they’re successful then I am successful.”
As a painter, graphic designer and commercial illustrator, Hummingbird earned a CNT designation for his ability to create Cherokee-themed artwork. Born in Tahlequah, he lives in Bisbee, Arizona. After graduating high school in Nashville, Tennessee, he studied art at Watkins Institute, the University of Tennessee and the American Academy of Art in Chicago.
He’s won awards for his paintings, including Best of Division at the Heard Museum Indian Art Market in Phoenix and at the Albuquerque (New Mexico) 2000 Indian Market, as well as second place at the Southwest Arts Festival in Indio, California. He also won awards for the graphic art he creates, including wins at the Santa Fe Market in New Mexico and the Tesoro Foundation Indian Market in Colorado.
In addition to awards, Hummingbird has had three paintings hang in the American Embassy in Cambodia, as well as 10 pieces of artwork in the collection of the Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C. He was also selected to paint a guitar that’s displayed in the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tulsa.
Also, being an illustrator, he’s illustrated two DVDs and two Children’s books titled “Native American Night Before Christmas” and “Twelve Days of Native Christmas.” He said he hopes to teach other Cherokees more about illustrating and publishing children’s books so more traditional stories can be published.
“I want to get a package together to send to the National Treasures group to hopefully teach a course on illustrating children stories. Everybody always has a children’s story. So I want to talk people about self-publishing and continuation, things I have gained knowledge of,” he said.
UCROSS, Wyo. – Ucross recently announced its second Ucross Fellowship for Native American Visual Artists has been awarded to mixed-media artist and Cherokee Nation citizen Brenda Mallory.
Located in northeast Wyoming in the foothills of the Bighorn Mountains, Ucross fosters the creative spirit of deeply committed artists and groups by providing uninterrupted time, studio space and living accommodations, while serving as a good steward of its 20,000-acre ranch.
Mallory was chosen through a juried national selection process. The award includes a one-month residency at Ucross, a stipend of $1,000 and inclusion in a forthcoming exhibition at the Ucross Art Gallery in 2019. The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts is providing major support for the fellowship.
Mallory’s work ranges from individual wall hangings and sculptures to large-scale installations. She works with mixed media, creating multiple forms that are joined with crude hardware or mechanical devices in ways that “imply tenuous connections and aberrations.”
She said she’s interested in ideas of interference and disruption of long-established systems in nature and human cultures. Mallory grew up in Oklahoma and lives in Portland, Oregon. She received bachelor’s degrees in linguistics and English from UCLA and in fine arts from Pacific Northwest College of Art.
Mallory has received grants from the Oregon Arts Commission, the Ford Family Foundation and the Regional Arts & Culture Council. In 2015, she was an Eiteljorg Museum Contemporary Native Art Fellow, and in 2016 she received a fellowship in visual arts from the Native Arts and Culture Foundation. More information can be found on her website at <a href="http://www.brendamallory.com" target="_blank">brendamallory.com</a>.
“It is an immense honor to continue this exciting fellowship initiative by recognizing artist Brenda Mallory. We look forward to seeing her at Ucross this fall and to an exhibition featuring her work in 2019,” said Ucross President Sharon Dynak.
The Ucross Fellowship for Native American Visual Artists was initiated in 2017 to support the work of contemporary Native American visual artists at all stages of their professional careers. It is open to disciplines that include but are not limited to painting, sculpture, printmaking, photography, video, performance art, installation, ceramics and collaborative projects involving multiple disciplines. Two fellowships are awarded annually, one in the spring and fall. Beginning in 2019, fellowship stipends will be $2,000. The next application deadline for the fellowship is Oct. 1. The application can be found at <a href="http://www.ucross.org" target="_blank">ucross.org</a>.
INDIANAPOLIS – At the 26th annual Eiteljorg Indian Market and Festival held June 23-24, Native American artists, including Cherokees, were awarded nearly $16,000 in cash prizes, as well as ribbons for art works they entered into competition.
Cherokee artist Bryan Waytula, of Sand Springs, Oklahoma, received first place in the Painting Category and the “Best of Class” award for his painting titled “We Stand As One.” He also received first place for his drawing titled “A Cherokee Treasure,” which is a colored pencil piece with a piece of mat weaving placed at the bottom of the artwork.
Waytula said he used remnants from one of his mom’s traditional river cane baskets.
His mother, Vivian Garner Cottrell, and his grandmother, Betty Scraper Garner, are both Cherokee National Treasures, which means they have been honored by the Cherokee Nation for their basketwork and for sharing their knowledge of basket making with others.
“I’m trying to follow big footprints left my grandmother and mother, both treasures. Those two are rock stars to me,” Waytula said.
He said it was his first time visiting the Eiteljorg Indian Market and Festival and was “impressed” with the facility, the artwork and the staff.
“I was very impressed with how amazing the staff was towards all the extremely-talented artists I had the pleasure of meeting and seeing their amazing work,” he said. “My dad, who is now retired, came along and helped me drive so it was a fun bonding trip too.”
Cherokee basket artist and Cherokee National Treasure Mike Dart, of Stilwell, Oklahoma, also won first place and "Best of Class" for his basket titled “Four Winds.” And he won a first place ribbon in the Non-Native Materials Category, a third-place ribbon in the Traditional Basketry Category and second place in the Contemporary Basketry Category.
“Eiteljorg Indian Market is a top of the line show with some of the ‘Best of the Best’ artists from across the nation and Canada. Seeing my name among the list of division winners was an honor. I’m proud and honored to be able to represent the Cherokee Nation in these art markets,” Dart said.
Also, Cherokee artist Lisa Rutherford won third place in the Contemporary Pottery Category and third place in the Cultural Items Category.
The Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art in Indianapolis hosted more than 100 artists from 60 Native American tribes who showed their jewelry, pottery, baskets, beadwork, carvings, paintings and cultural items. The two-day market and festival drew thousands of visitors who met the artists, purchased their art and enjoyed music, food and performances on the museum’s grounds.
“The Eiteljorg Indian Market and Festival creates opportunities for collectors and artists to connect and it builds support for today’s Native American artists,” Eiteljorg President and CEO John Vanausdall said. “The beautiful art works the artists have created make a powerful impact on our market goers and have contributed to the success of the Indian Market and Festival during its 26 years.”
Images of the winning artworks in 11 categories are on the Eiteljorg Museum’s Facebook page, and a complete list of award recipients in all categories and prize sponsors is at <a href="http://www.eiteljorg.org/explore/festivals-and-events/indian-market-festival" target="_blank">www.eiteljorg.org/explore/festivals-and-events/indian-market-festival</a>.
TAHLEQUAH – The Cherokee National Prison was built to hold the most hardened criminals in Indian Territory from before statehood and into the 20th century.
A new exhibit at the Cherokee National Prison Museum explores the period of time when the building served as the Cherokee County Jail by sharing stories of both lawmen and lawbreakers.
The “Cherokee Prison: Post Statehood” exhibit runs July 13 to Jan. 31.
The Cherokee National Prison was the only penitentiary building in Indian Territory from 1875 to 1901. It housed sentenced and accused prisoners from throughout the territory. The interpretive site and museum give visitors an idea about how law and order operated in Indian Territory. The site features a working blacksmith area and reconstructed gallows; exhibits about famous prisoners and daring escapes, local outlaws and Cherokee patriots; and jail cells.
The Cherokee Nation’s museums are open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. For information, call 1-877-779-6977 or visit <a href="http://www.VisitCherokeeNation.com" target="_blank">www.VisitCherokeeNation.com</a>.