The People:
Bigmeat Family

The Bigmeat name is synonymous with high-quality Cherokee pottery. Matriarch Charlotte Welch Bigmeat (1887–1959) was steeped in the pottery tradition. Her sister-in-law Maude Welch, also an acclaimed potter. Charlotte and her husband, Robert Bigmeat, raised five daughters and a son on Wrights Creek in the Painttown section of the Qualla Boundary. Each of her five daughters—Tiney, Ethel, Elizabeth, Mabel and Louise—also became potters. Between them, they were taught pottery, demonstrated at the Oconaluftee Indian Village, and were active in Qualla Arts and Crafts Mutual. Over the years, the Bigmeat family created pottery with a signature style and standard, including an Indian head pot made by Charlotte Bigmeat that was later reproduced by her daughters. “In its final form, perfection, quality, and tradition are our standards,” said Louise Bigmeat Maney, youngest daughter and most experimental in her pottery of all the sisters. Cherokee potter Joel Queen continues the Bigmeat legacy; Ethel Bigmeat was his paternal grandmother.

Read more about the Bigmeat family on the Cherokee Traditions website.