The People:
Cora Arch Wahnetah

Cora Arch Wahnetah (1907–1986) was born into one pottery family and married into another. She learned from her mother, Ella Long Arch (born 1889), and both her maternal and paternal grandmothers were recognized potters. Her childhood memories included happy hours spent collecting clay with her family on Soco Creek. While aware of modern methods and once described as an “ingenious contemporary potter,” Wahnetah was faithful to older pottery traditions. She preferred simplicity, eschewing the wheel in favor of hand-formed, pit-fired work. She spoke openly of finding inspiration not in the work’s economic value but in the process of making the work itself. Wahnetah was a presence in the beginnings both of the Oconaluftee Indian Village, where she demonstrated pottery techniques, and the Qualla Arts and Crafts Mutual cooperative, which provided her with a local outlet to sell her wares and which she credited with raising the quality of Eastern Band craft.

Read more about Cora Wahnetah on the Cherokee Traditions website.