Cherokee Traditions: From the Hands of our Elders
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People: Wahdih “Watty” Chiltoskie (1897-1973)

Not as much is known about Watty Chiltoskie, Goingback’s older brother. Born in 1897, he was ten years older than his well known brother and older than any of the carvers profiled here except for Will West Long. Raised in the Piney Grove section of the Qualla Boundary, Wahdih Chiltoskie was more often called Watty. Like his parents, he spoke only Cherokee, learning English later in life. While still a young man, he started carving. I started with a kitchen knife,” he recalled, then graduated to a pocketknife. Now I use woodcarving tools,” he said in an undated newspaper interview. The brothers shared a love of carving.

Goingback acknowledged his older brother’s influence. He shared his skill with me when I was a young boy still at home,” he said in an interview. While it was Watty who taught Goingback how to use a pocketknife, as adults, Goingback gave Watty a set of professional carving tools. Using these, Watty Chiltoskie carved a number of forms. Horsehead bookends were his most popular. He made many sets of these, saying he could turn out a set in a day. While Chiltoskie was not a charter member of Qualla Arts and Crafts Mutual, he did appear on an inventory of Cherokee woodworkers that was made prior to the formation of the cooperative.


Anna Fariello
Excerpted from Cherokee Carvers: From the Hands of our Elders, 2013

Works cited
Paysour, Conrad. “Patience Seen Vital in Woodcarvers Craft,” undated newspaper clipping in the member files of Southern Highland Craft Guild.

Cherokee Traditions:
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Museum of the Cherokee Indian

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