Cherokee Nation citizen and “Remember the Removal” cyclist Autumn Lawless leads the “RTR” group through Missouri. All participants take turns leading the ride to help develop leadership skills. WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
‘Remember the Removal’ cyclists find strength, develop leadership skills
Cherokee Nation citizen Daulton Cochran carries his bicycle as he walks part of the Trail of Tears near the Gasconade River in Missouri. Behind him is Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians citizen Ahli-sha Stephens and CN citizen Amari McCoy. WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
WAYNESVILLE, Mo. – Autumn Lawless trained for the challenges she faced on June 15 as she fought the heat and hills of the Ozarks in south-central Missouri.
The 21-year-old from Porum, Oklahoma, said the training the 10 Cherokee Nation “Remember the Removal” cyclists endured from January to May prepared them for the rigors of riding for three weeks through seven states.
“Training was hard, but it was hard for a reason. We were all ready, and we’ve made it this far because of our training,” she said.
She said through the “RTR” program, which started in 1984 for youth leadership, she’s gained more courage and knows “she can do anything.”
“I saw a lot of our riders and how this ride changed them and how strong they were. They were more confident, they were better leaders, and I wanted to be a better leader. I know I can push myself...now. This ride has given me perseverance,” Lawless said. “The ride isn’t just what you see in videos. It’s not just people cheering you on and clapping for you. It’s the time you spend with your teammates on the road motivating each other to get up another hill or just checking on each other. It really is a family, and there’s a lot of behind-the-scenes work that goes into this ride.”
Ahli-sha Stephens, 34, of Cherokee, North Carolina, said the main reason she wanted to ride was to experience some of the hardships her ancestors endured and “to be able to go where they had been and walk where they walked.”
“It’s something you can tell someone about and they won’t understand it unless they’ve been there and felt it for themselves,” she said.
Walking the now-preserved trails that Cherokee people walked 180 years ago was especially moving for her, she said. “It’s humbling knowing you walked where they walked, and you’re walking in their footsteps and are seeing things that they saw. It wasn’t easy, and I can’t imagine doing it the way they did it day after day.”
Stephens added that riding the trail with other Cherokees created a bond that gets stronger daily. “We rely on each other. We help each other, and we’re there for each other. I think if we didn’t have each other’s backs, it would make this journey a whole lot harder.”
Stephens said she’s also learned to be more patient and wants to use her abilities to help others and to “lead, listen and be a team player.”
“Overall, I think I will be more knowledgeable about who our people were, what they did and what they went through, what they faced. I think I will just be a better person all around,” she said.
Daulton Cochran, 21, of Bell, Oklahoma, said he wanted to ride to “connect” with his tribe better.
“I had a lot of friends who did the ride, and it seemed like it changed a lot of people afterwards, and I craved that, I guess,” he said.
Because of the constant strain of riding for two weeks, he said he couldn’t recall the exact spot that moved him the most, but it was a place in Tennessee where his Cherokee ancestors camped.
“I guess it was the idea of campsites really being gravesites. It really gets to you to see stuff like that,” he said.
He added that he’s appreciated taking on the riding challenge with his teammates. “The fellowship has been great. We all connect. We all hang out. It’s just a good thing. We’re a family now.”
Seth Ledford, 18, of Cherokee North Carolina, said he saw how the ride was a “life-changing” experience for others and wanted to experience it.
“It is a once-in-lifetime experience, and it will change you for the better. That’s what I heard about the ride,” he said. “So far the ride has been good. It has been tough at times, and emotional and physical. We’ve had a lot of tough times, but we make up and still like each other.”
He said he would take away leadership skills and bonds he’s developed with fellow riders. He also has learned to work within a team. “When I wrestle (in high school) I’m by myself in everything. This is really helping me with my teamwork.”
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>.
TAHLEQUAH – The Cherokee Language Master Apprentice Program is accepting applications until Oct. 1. The two-year program is centered on a group language immersion experience and accepts a limited number of applications each year.
In a previous Cherokee Phoenix story, Howard Paden, CLMAP manager, said the program stemmed from a “need” for the language.
“This program gets people speaking our language again. You know, we’ve seen a need for it because a lot of the (Cherokee) Immersion (Charter) School parents seen a need to not only push their kids to learn the language but to learn themselves and start having Cherokee speaking households,” Paden said.
After completing the program, students will have 4,000 contact hours with the Cherokee language and spend more than 40 hours each week studying and speaking the language.
“Our program is about more than teaching someone the Cherokee language, it is about naturally absorbing our language and our way of life to the point that it changes the way we see the world and think. The real goal is to activate people that will spread the language wherever they go,” Paden said. “Our learners say it is a challenging program, but every day they push to give them more language. When they graduate, their passion for speaking the Cherokee language is only rivaled by their commitment to share our language.”
To ensure individuals are able to dedicate the needed time to the program, they each receive a $10-an-hour tax-free cash benefit, program officials said. They also said an 80 percent time requirement is mandatory.
“They learn a lot of Cherokee. From when they first walk into the classroom to probably two months they already learn about 5,000 words,” Paden said. “The first year is primarily learning as much as they can, and by the second year we expect them to start teaching. Of course they have a master speaker there that can assist them, but they begin to teach phrases to the next group that comes in. So every January we get a new group, so the people that are in their last year will begin teaching in January to the new group that we have coming in.”
On Dec. 2, the Cherokee Language Master Apprentice Program graduated four students: Larry Carney, of Tulsa; Ronnie Duncan, of Bell; Lisa O’Field, of Hulbert; and Toney Owens, of Rocky Mountain.
In 2014, the tribe began the program as a part of its Community and Cultural Outreach department as a way to promote the Cherokee language. Since its inception, the Cherokee Language Master Apprentice Program has grown into its own department and graduated six Cherokee speakers.
To apply for the program, one must be 18 years or older, be available Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., live near Tahlequah or be willing to relocate and possess a strong desire to learn and cultivate the Cherokee language and culture through teaching.
For more information or to apply, call 918-207-4964.