http://www.cherokeephoenix.orgLeeAnn Dreadfulwater of Park Hill, Oklahoma, reads the biography of her great-great-great grandmother Ahnawake “Annie” (Spirit) Snell during an Oct. 28 memorial ceremony at Snell Cemetery near Grove. The Oklahoma Chapter of the Trail of Tears Association hosted the ceremony to honor Trail of Tears survivors Johnaky Snell, Akie (Sharp) Silversmith and Ahnawake. KENLEA HENSON/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
LeeAnn Dreadfulwater of Park Hill, Oklahoma, reads the biography of her great-great-great grandmother Ahnawake “Annie” (Spirit) Snell during an Oct. 28 memorial ceremony at Snell Cemetery near Grove. The Oklahoma Chapter of the Trail of Tears Association hosted the ceremony to honor Trail of Tears survivors Johnaky Snell, Akie (Sharp) Silversmith and Ahnawake. KENLEA HENSON/CHEROKEE PHOENIX

Ceremony honors 3 Trail of Tears survivors

Bob Fields, of Diamond, Missouri, reads the biography of his great-great grandmother Akie (Sharp) Silversmith during an Oct. 28 memorial ceremony at Snell Cemetery near Grove, Oklahoma. Silversmith was one of three Trail of Tears survivors to be honored that day. KENLEA HENSON/CHEROKEE PHOENIX The descendants of Johnaky Snell surround his tombstone during an Oct. 28 memorial ceremony at Snell Cemetery near Grove, Oklahoma. The Oklahoma Chapter of the Trails of Tears Association attached a plaque honoring his endurance during the forced removal. KENLEA HENSON/CHEROKEE PHOENIX The Oklahoma Chapter of the Trail of Tears Association hosted an Oct. 28 memorial ceremony at Snell Cemetery near Grove, Oklahoma, to honor Trail of Tears survivors Johnaky Snell, Akie (Sharp) Silversmith and Ahnawake “Annie” (Spirit) Snell. A plaque was attached to each of the survivor’s headstones and their biographies were read during the ceremony. KENLEA HENSON/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Bob Fields, of Diamond, Missouri, reads the biography of his great-great grandmother Akie (Sharp) Silversmith during an Oct. 28 memorial ceremony at Snell Cemetery near Grove, Oklahoma. Silversmith was one of three Trail of Tears survivors to be honored that day. KENLEA HENSON/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
BY KENLEA HENSON
Reporter
11/20/2017 08:00 AM
GROVE, Okla. – Nearly 100 descendants and friends gathered for a memorial ceremony on Oct. 28 at Snell Cemetery to honor three Trail of Tears survivors.

The Oklahoma Chapter of the Trail of Tears Association honored Johnaky Snell, Akie (Sharp) Silversmith and Ahnawake “Annie” (Spirit) Snell.

The biography of each survivor was read and metal plaques were attached to their headstones. The plaques read: “In honor of one who endured the forced removal of the Cherokees in 1838-39.” It also includes the Cherokee Nation and TOTA seals.

“We are marking the graves of people who came on the forced removal from the East. I think it is very appropriate that we remember the people that came so we don’t forget the forced removal and what they did by enduring the Trail of Tears and if they had not done that we would not be here. One of the purposes we mark graves is to let people know this is their ancestor that came on the forced removal and to bring them together as a family,” National TOTA President Jack Baker said.

In 1993, TOTA formed to aid the National Parks Service in “protecting and preserving” the Trail of Tears routes, which Congress recognized as a national historical trail in 1987. In 1996, nine state TOTA chapters were organized in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Missouri, North Carolina, Tennessee and Oklahoma.

Oklahoma Chapter member David Hampton said each state chapter works on projects, mostly locating and marking trail segments. However, because the removal trails ended at the Arkansas border, the Oklahoma Chapter didn’t have trails to mark.

“Since the Trail generally ended at the Arkansas border and people disbanded when people got into the Cherokee Nation, the Oklahoma Chapter picked marking the graves as one of its projects from the very beginning, so we have been doing that over the last 18 years,” Hampton said.

The Oklahoma Chapter has marked 153 graves in the CN and is looking for more Trail survivors, as well as accepting applications from people wanting ancestors’ graves marked.

“We have specific criteria of what a Trail of Tears survivor is. It started after the roundup in May 1838. If you came (to Indian Territory, now Oklahoma) before that we are currently not marking those people’s graves. They (survivors) also came on a Cherokee detachment that disbanded in early 1839,” Hampton said. “We verify if they’re eligible, and if there are other people in that same cemetery that are eligible…we mark them, too.”

Steven Snell, of Grove, attended the ceremony with his family to honor Johnaky Snell.

“I didn’t realize my heritage going back to the Trail of Tears actually had people buried here in this cemetery. It’s just really nice they’re being recognized like this and being shown some respect,” he said.

Bob Fields, of Diamond, Missouri, attended to honor his great-great grandmother Akie (Sharp) Silversmith. He read her biography during the ceremony.

“I appreciate the Trail of Tears Association for doing this. It was a good ceremony, and I am glad they did it to recognize her life and her endearment on the Trail of Tears and the fact that she got through it. She would have never thought of her family would be here over a hundred years after she died, so I think that’s pretty good deal,” Fields said.

LeeAnn Dreadfulwater, of Park Hill, read the biography of her great-great-great grandmother Ahnawake “Annie” (Spirit) Snell.

“I think it’s a wonderful honor. She was just a little girl when she was on the Trail coming with all her brothers and sisters and her family. I can’t imagine what she must of seen, encountered and endured. It makes me really proud to come from someone like that who went on to live a really incredible life, a very full life where she was able to make a good home in a new land and to live into the new century, which must have been really incredible, too,” Dreadfulwater said.

To nominate an ancestor who survived the Trail of Tears, mail a request to Oklahoma TOTA Chapter President Curtis Rohr at 24880 S. 4106 Road, Claremore, OK, 74019 or call 918-341-4689.

Johnaky Snell

Johnaky Snell was born about 1826 in Cherokee Nation East, most likely on Shooting Creek in what is present-day Clay County, North Carolina. His father was Goo-tah-skah, also known as Pickup in English, and his mother was Wah-li-sah. He had four known siblings or half siblings: Ah-to-he, Oo-yi-yah-sah-nah-ske, Lah-chi-le and Kah-se.

As a young man, he endured the forced removal to the west in a currently unknown detachment.
On July 25, 1865, he married a Cherokee, Katy Schrimsher. They were parents of eight children surviving to adulthood: Jane (Snell) Bushyhead, Ida (Snell) Six Mitchell Scraper, Lulu (Snell) Gourd, Joe Coon Snell, Charles Snell, Alexander Snell, Nona (Snell) O’Fields and Nancy Snell, as well as one daughter who died in infancy, Mary Snell.

During the Civil War, Johnaky served in the Union Army in Company H of the Second Indian Home Guard. After the war he returned to his farm near the Honey Creek area in what is present-day Delaware County, Oklahoma. He died on July 4, 1902, and was buried in the Snell Cemetery.

Akie Sharp Silversmith

Akie Sharp was born about 1829 in Cherokee Nation East. She was the oldest of four children to Ah-ne-kah-yah, also know as “Sharp” in English, and Nancy.

As a young girl, Akie and her family were forced on the removal west in the Oldfields/Forman detachment, which left the East on Oct. 10, 1838, and arrived on Feb. 2, 1839. The family then settled in what became the Delaware District of Cherokee Nation, present-day Delaware County, Oklahoma.

By 1851, Akie mothered a daughter by the name Ah-li, who died in childhood. Ah-li’s father was unknown. In 1852, Akie married Albert McGhee, a white man, and the pair had one daughter, Sarah (McGhee) Fields. After separation from Albert, Akie married Wilson Silversmith, a Cherokee. They had two children, John Silversmith and Bettie (Silversmith) Fields. During the Civil War, Wilson died and Akie and her family supported themselves by farming east of Grove in the Delaware District. She died on July 9, 1895, and was buried in Snell Cemetery.

Ahnawake “Annie” (Spirit) Snell

Ahnawake or Annie Spirit was born about 1826 on the Etowah River, Cherokee Nation East, near present-day Rome, Georgia. Her father was known as “The Spirit,” and her mother was Chah-wah-yoo-kah. Annie had three full siblings and two half sisters from her mother’s previous marriage to George Vann.

Together the family traveled on the forced removal to the West in the George Hicks detachment, which left the East in September 1838 and arrived in March 1839. Her father was a teamster in the detachment.

After arrival, the family initially settled in the Flint District, present-day southern Adair or northern Sequoyah County, Oklahoma. Spirit appears to have died within a few years after removal.

In 1848, Annie married Samuel Mayes, a white man. They were parents of Sarah (Mayes) Ballard, Elmira (Mayes) Finn Gladney and William (Penn) Mayes. After the Mayes family moved to the Saline District, near Grand River, Samuel died in 1858. In 1862, Annie married Simon Snell, a Cherokee, who was serving in the Union Army. The pair settled in the Delaware District and had one son, Charles Snell. After Simon’s death in 1877, Annie maintained the farm near Honey Creek. She died on Feb. 20, 1910, and was buried near Simon in Snell Cemetery.
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Culture

BY STAFF REPORTS
04/22/2018 04:00 PM
SULPHUR – Explore your Native American heritage at the Five Tribes Ancestry Conference on June 7-9 at the Chickasaw Cultural Center. The Inter-Tribal Council of the Five Civilized Tribes, whose mission is to unite the governments of the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Muscogee Creek and Seminole nations, has endorsed this first-of-its-kind conference. “The Five Tribes have a shared history due to the creation of the Dawes Rolls at the turn of the last century,” Cherokee Heritage Center Executive Director Dr. Charles Gourd said. “The vast majority of our visitors at CHC are interested in researching their family heritage, but they just aren’t sure where to start. Working with the Five Tribes, we have created a one-of-a-kind conference that will provide a better understanding of genealogical methodology and introduce available records to aid individuals in their family research.” The three-day event is expected to provide tools to research Native American ancestry and discussion topics with guest speakers, including keynote speaker Dr. Daniel F. Littlefield Jr., director of the Sequoyah Research Center at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. “Archives, historical societies and other genealogical institutions, especially in the south-southeast, have all seen an increase in the number of people seeking information about their family ancestry,” Littlefield said. “The majority of researchers are focused on validating their family’s claim to Indian ancestry and, thus, tribal citizenship. It is our responsibility to assist these individuals to the best of our ability while educating the public about the realities of the search.” The cost to attend is $150 and includes a conference bag and flash drive with digital copies of presentation materials. Registration forms are available at <a href="http://www.CherokeeHeritage.org" target="_blank">www.CherokeeHeritage.org</a>. The deadline to register is May 31. The CHC is presenting the Five Tribes Ancestry Conference, but it will take place at the Chickasaw Cultural Center at 867 Charles Cooper Memorial Road. For more information, including accommodations and registration, call 918-456-6007, ext. 6162 or email <a href="mailto: ashley-vann@cherokee.org">ashley-vann@cherokee.org</a> or <a href="mailto: gene-norris@cherokee.org">gene-norris@cherokee.org</a>.
BY STAFF REPORTS
04/20/2018 04:00 PM
PARK HILL – The Cherokee Heritage Center is hosting cultural classes designed to preserve, promote and teach traditional Cherokee art. The Saturday workshops are held once a month and provide hands-on learning opportunities with various traditional art forms. Registration is open for the May 5 class on flat reed basketry and plant dyes and the June 2 class on flint knapping. Both classes are from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and cost $40 each. Early registration is recommended as class size is limited. For more information or to RSVP, call Tonia Weavel at 918-456-6007, ext. 6161, or email <a href="mailto: tonia-weavel@cherokee.org">tonia-weavel@cherokee.org</a>. The CHC is located at 21192 S. Keeler Drive.
BY STAFF REPORTS
04/19/2018 10:00 AM
PARK HILL – The Cherokee Heritage Center recently received nearly $12,000 in grants from the Oklahoma Arts Council to support three new cultural artists in its interactive exhibits for the 2018 tourism season. “The addition of these artists to our staff will aid in our efforts to provide an engaging and interactive environment for visiting guests,” CHC Executive Director Dr. Charles Gourd said. “We are thankful for the support of the OAC, which continues to support our mission to preserve, promote and teach Cherokee history, art and culture.” Cherokee Nation citizens Lily Drywater and Geoff Little are providing cultural demonstrations in the ancient Cherokee village, Diligwa, which authentically portrays Cherokee life in the early 1700s. Drywater performs traditional finger weaving, and Little demonstrates the art of bow making. CN citizen Charlotte Wolfe has joined the team in Adams Corner Rural Village, which represents Cherokee life in the 1890s before Oklahoma statehood. Wolfe demonstrates Cherokee basketry and cornhusk dolls. “As a young girl, I had a hunger for my heritage and a desire to immerse myself in the Cherokee culture,” said Wolfe. “That spark has fueled my career, and I have had the privilege to study a variety of Cherokee art forms, many from Cherokee National Treasures. I feel that each one is a gift passed down to me, and I take great pride in sharing that knowledge with guests visiting the heritage center. I hope that each guest leaves with a better understanding of Cherokee culture, and that they feel inspired to learn more.” The CHC is the premier cultural center for Cherokee history, culture and the arts. It’s located at 21192 S. Keeler Drive. Summer hours are from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Funding provided by the Oklahoma Arts Council is supported financially by the state and the National Endowment for the Arts. The OAC is the state agency for the support and development of the arts. Its mission is to lead in the advancement of Oklahoma’s thriving arts industry. It provides more than 400 grants to nearly 225 organizations in communities statewide each year, organizes professional development opportunities for the state’s arts and cultural industry, and manages works of art in the Oklahoma Public Art Collection and the public spaces of the state Capitol. Additional information is available at <a href="http://www.arts.ok.gov" target="_blank">arts.ok.gov</a>.
BY STAFF REPORTS
04/18/2018 12:15 PM
TAHLEQUAH – Following the Native film series and keynote speakers throughout the week, the Northeastern State University 46th annual Symposium on the American Indian will conclude with the NSU Powwow. The powwow begins at 2 p.m. on April 21 in the University Center Ballroom. Kelly Anquoe will begin the day by teaching a dance workshop that will provide an opportunity for individuals to learn about the styles of dance and types of regalia that will be seen during the powwow. There will also be time for questions related to powwow protocol. The Learning Traditional Dance Workshop will be at 2 p.m. A Gourd Dance will begin the powwow at 3 p.m., followed by a dinner break from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. and the Grand Entry/Intertribal will begin at 7 p.m. and conclude at midnight. Event leaders include the master of ceremonies Stanley John (Navajo), head lady dancer Robyn Chanate (Cherokee/Kiowa), head man dancer Daniel Roberts (Muscogee Creek/Aleut/Choctaw), head gourd dancer Chris Chanate (Kiowa/Cherokee), head singer Joel Deerinwater (Muscogee Creek/Cherokee), Color Guard from the Mvskoke Creek Nation Honor Guard and the arena director Tony Ballou (Cherokee/Creek/Navajo). Traditional arts vendors will be set up at the event along with institutional and organizational display booths. Symposium activities are free and the public is encouraged to attend. For more information, visit <a href="http://www.nsuok.edu/symposium" target="_blank">www.nsuok.edu/symposium</a>.
BY KENLEA HENSON
Reporter
04/18/2018 08:15 AM
PARK HILL – Cherokee Nation citizen Troy Jackson won the grand prize for his sculpture “Adadolisdi – The Prayer” at the Cherokee Heritage Center’s 47th annual Trail of Tears Art Show. Winners were announced during an April 6 ceremony and opening-night reception for the art show, which runs through May 5. The TOTAS is the longest-running Native American art show in Oklahoma and features authentic Native American artwork from artists of different federally recognized tribes. This year the show received 172 submissions from 89 artists representing 12 tribal nations. All featured artwork is available for purchase throughout the show’s duration. CHC Curator Callie Chunestudy said the show received a record number of entries and has about 16 new artists who have previously entered the show. “It’s a great opportunity for artists both new and seasoned to display their work and have it in a tribal museum. I think you will see a lot more variety. People are really starting to come into their own with things like graphic arts and coming out of the box a little more with sculptures and some of what people consider kind of the more traditional arts. So you get to see some new and interesting things you may have not seen before,” she said. Artists competed for more than $15,000 in prize money in seven categories: painting, sculpture, pottery, basketry, graphics, jewelry and miniatures. As the grand prize recipient, Jackson received $2,00 and a copper gorget. He said his inspiration for the piece came from what he starts each day with – prayer. “I use prayer to keep focused and to keep on task. Being an artist isn’t an easy job, especially being a self-employed artist, so I have to have something that keeps me focused and that is what prayer does for me.” CN citizen Ron Mitchell took honorable mention in the graphics category for his piece “Out of the Darkness.” He said he’s been entering the show off and on since 1987. “I like this particular show because it is the Trail of Tears show…It gives us a showcase that we can actually show artwork that depicts what happened to our tribe and a lot of the other tribes, too when the Removal Act took place,” Mitchell said. Awards for the Cherokee Art Market Youth Competition were also announced during the ceremony, which includes art by Native American youth from grades 6-12 and precedes the annual Cherokee Art Market in the fall. Youth artwork will be on display and for sale through the length of the show, too. For a complete list of winners, visit <a href="http://www.Anadisgoi.com" target="_blank">www.Anadisgoi.com</a>. <strong>2018 Trail of Tears Art Show winners</strong> Painting: Kenny Henson, Cherokee Nation, “Awi Usdi and the Invasive Species” Sculpture: Paul Hacker, Choctaw Nation, “Eagle Song” Basketry: Mike Dart, Cherokee Nation, “Wild Onion Gathering Basket” Pottery: Jane Osti, Cherokee Nation, “Earth, Spirit and Fire” Jewelry: Toneh Chuleewah, Cherokee Nation, “Hero Twins” Graphics: John Gritts, Cherokee Nation, “Keep, Out, Indian Reservation, Government Property” Miniature: Norma Howard, Choctaw Nation, “Walking Home from the Store” Emerging Artists: Mike Phillips, Cherokee Nation, “Balance of Life” Trail of Tears Award: Norma Howard, Choctaw Nation, “Choctaw Removal” Bill Rabbit Legacy Award: Kindra Swafford, Cherokee Nation, “Bond” Betty Garner Elder Award: Norma Howard, Choctaw Nation, “Choctaw Removal” <strong>2018 Cherokee Art Market Youth Competition winners</strong> Best of Show: Lindsay Petitt, Cherokee Nation, “Fireside Tales” 2-D, grades 6-10: Tyrus Teehee, Cherokee Nation, “Suli and the Waterbeetle” 2-D, grades 11-12: Xeneca LeClair, Otoe-Missouria Tribe, “Blue Shawl” 3-D, grades 6-8: Julia Lewis, Cherokee Nation, ??????? 3-D, grades 9-10: Alexis Rietman, Cherokee Nation, “Exploring New Traditions” 3-D, grades 11-12: Graycianne Bennett, Cherokee Nation, “Just Hanging Out” Judge’s Choice: Tucker Williams, Cherokee Nation, “Native Beauty” Judge’s Choice: Graycianne Bennett, Cherokee Nation, “Just Hanging Out" Judge’s Choice: Chloe Davis, Cherokee Nation, “Personification of Sunshine" Bill Rabbit Award: Graycianne Bennett, Cherokee Nation, “Just Hanging Out”
BY BRITTNEY BENNETT
Reporter – @cp_bbennett
04/16/2018 08:15 AM
TAHLEQUAH – The Encore! Performing Society on April 8 previewed its reimagined production of “Four Moons,” which highlights the careers of five Native American ballerinas. “The history of the five ballerinas was always interesting to me because they are so unique. There’s only a handful of Native American ballerinas in the world,” “Four Moons” Director Lena Gladkova-Huffman said. The production features 12 female dancers, nearly all of who are Cherokee, and uses digital backdrops with archived footage, pictures and interviews to showcase the life and careers of Yvonne Chouteau, Rosella Hightower, Moscelyne Larkin and sisters Maria and Marjorie Tallchief. The group became known as the Five Moons and rose to prominence in the mid-1900s during a time when ballet was largely considered a Russian art form. The women represented the Cherokee, Osage, Choctaw and Shawnee tribes. Four of them danced together for the original 1967 production, which occurred during the Oklahoma Indian Ballerina Festival. It was titled “Four Moons” because the Tallchief sisters were highlighted together. “When we picked up this production, the girls had to do a lot of research and find out who each ballerina was. So they come out of this production with bigger knowledge of the world in general, and hopefully our audience will too,” Gladkova-Huffman said. “There were these five amazing women who, from children, decided to dedicate their life to art.” She said her fascination with the Five Moons and the original performance sparked the need for a reimagining featuring her choreography. “They met and danced, and it was a unique occasion because everybody danced, with the exception of Maria Tallchief, who was retired, and then nobody video recorded them. So from then on everybody that has recreated this play has used original choreography,” she said. Gladkova-Huffman studied ballet in Volgograd, Russia, and though she pursued a career as a doctor after immigrating to America, she’s “closely connected” to directing and choreographing. Many girls featured in her reimagining come from her dance studio, though each “handpicked” ballerina had to meet select criteria. They also vary in age from elementary- to college-aged students to highlight the Five Moons as younger and older versions. Cherokee Nation citizen Natalie Walker, 19, studies at Northeastern State University and is dancing as the older Chouteau. She said she and her younger partner unfurl a ribbon during their dance as a nod to the Cherokee people and Chouteau’s heritage. “There is a part in my dance where we pull a white ribbon and it separates the stage, which is supposed to represent the Trail of Tears,” she said. “It separates us from our Cherokee heritage, as well as the younger and older versions of (Chouteau).” Walker said the dancers have rehearsed on weekends for months to prepare. “We all are very good about taking criticism from Mrs. Lena very well, which I think helps us improve in dancing and for the production,” she said. “It has taken many, many practices since then to get ready for this, and I love dancing in front of people.” CN citizen Lacy Ullrich, 13, portrays the younger Marjorie Tallchief. “I didn’t really know much about it the first time I did this, but it sounded fun,” she said. “They’re all very interesting, and they’ve accomplished a ton of really cool things throughout their lifetime. All these girls come from different tribes, and one of them is Cherokee, and they were all born in Oklahoma, so it’s fun to get to dance the Cherokee variation.” Portraying Hightower is CN citizen Hadley Hume, 17, who will attend the University of Arkansas at Little Rock this fall to major in performance dance. She said audiences should expect to see a mix of traditional ballet and Native American aspects. “You’ll see us dancing on point, on flat, but we’ll also have one girl come out in a traditional Cherokee dress. It’s just really amazing to be able to bring all of their tribes together, and it’s just a really cool way to say, ‘hey look, we’re all here.’” Her mother, Dayna, is the vice president of Encore! who secured the rights to composer Louis Ballard’s music from the 1967 production. She also designed the traditional costumes. “All of the coral dresses that you’ll see and the ribbon work, I’ve done,” she said. “I tell (the girls), ‘I create it, you bring it to life. You make it come to life when you dance.’ We’ve also had some various local Cherokee National Treasures that’s worked on other pieces.” The preview was held ahead of scheduled performances in Washington, D.C., for the annual Cherokee Days on April 13-15 at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian.