Cherokee Culture

Beard-Moose, Christina Taylor. Public Indians, private Cherokees: tourism and tradition on tribal ground. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2009.

A major economic industry among American Indian tribes is the public promotion and display of aspects of their cultural heritage ina wide range of tourist venues. Few do it better than the Eastern Band of the Cherokee, whose homeland is the Qualla Boundary of North Carolina. Through extensive research into the work of other scholars dating back to the late 1800s and interviews with a wide range of contemporary Cherokees Beard-Moose presents the two faces of the Cherokee people. One is the public face that populates the powwows, dramatic presentations, museums, and myriad roadside craft locations. The other is the private face, whose homecoming, Indian fair, tradition, belief system, community strength, and cultural heritage are threatened by the very activities that put food on tables. Constructing an ethnohistory of tourism and comparing the experiences of the Cherokees with the Florida Seminoles and Southwestern tribes, this work brings into sharp focus the fine line between promoting and selling Indian culture.

Bender, Margaret. Signs of Cherokee Culture: Sequoyah's Syllabary in Eastern Cherokee Life. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2002.

In Signs of Cherokee Culture, Margaret Bender examines the ways in which contemporary Eastern Cherokees employ the Cherokee syllabary, the writing system developed by Sequoyah in the early nineteenth century. While few Cherokees are highly proficient users of the syllabary, the writing has become a potent marker of Cherokee identity and a source of considerable pride. This symbolic power has only grown in recent years, as the Eastern Band has made a major commitment to revitalizing the Cherokee language. Bender examines contemporary use of the syllabary in classroom education, religious practice, and in various forms of community self-representation, such as the syllabary signage that has become increasingly popular on the Qualla Boundary.

Chiltoskey, Mary Ulmer. Cherokee Fair & Festival: A History thru [sic] 1978. Cherokee, NC: The Association, 1996.

This brief pamphlet produced by Mary Chiltoskey includes the competition categories and prize schedules for the 1950 and 1978 Cherokee Fairs. Competition categories included; basketry, pottery, agriculture and herbs among others. Pages 15-38 substantially reprint the 1950 Cherokee Indian Fair catalog. The back cover includes Cherokee alphabet and pronunciation guide. General audience.

Contemporary Artists and Craftsmen of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians: Promotional Exhibitions, 1965-1985. Cherokee: Qualla Arts and Crafts Mutual, Inc., 1987

Organized by the Indian Arts and Crafts Board in cooperation with Qualla Arts and Crafts Mutual, Inc., Contemporary Artists and Craftsmen contains short biographies of notable Cherokee artists from 1965 to1985 and includes an introduction and history on the topic. Included in the collection are entries on Cherokee basket weavers, sculptors, bead workers, carvers, and other crafters, although basket weavers predominate. The excerpts on various Cherokee artisans contain a photograph of the artist, a short biography, a description of their art form, any formal recognition received for their work, photographs.

Duggan, Betty J. and Brett H. Riggs. Studies in Cherokee Basketry. Knoxville, TN: University of Tennessee, Occasional Paper No. 9, 1991.

Duggan and Riggs provide an extensive analysis of Cherokee basketry as a continuing craft tradition, and provide brief histories of some of the basket makers. This work also includes areprint ofDecorative Art and Basketry of the Cherokee”, by Frank G. Speck. The Duggan and Riggs section as well as the Speck reprint provide highly detailed black and white photographs and drawings of patterns used in Cherokee basketry and pottery. Collegiate audience. References cited are included, but not a separate bibliography.

Duncan, Barbara R., ed. Where it all Began: Cherokee Creation Stories in Art. Cherokee, NC: Museum of the Cherokee Indian, 2001.

Duncan explores examples of the Cherokee creation story found in Cherokee art forms. The book includes biographies and artistic philosophies of contemporary and Craft Revival Cherokee artists. Also included are detailed color photographs of Cherokee baskets, carvings, and pottery. General audience.

Fariello, M. Anna. Cherokee Basketry: From the Hands of Our Elders. Charleston: History Press, 2009.

A tradition that dates back almost ten thousand years, basketry is an integral aspect of Cherokee culture. In the mountains of Western North Carolina, stunning baskets are still made from rivercane, white oak, and honeysuckle and dyed with roots and bark. Fariello reveals that baskets hold much more than food and clothing. This complex art-passed down from mothers to daughters-is a thread that bonds modern Native Americans to ancestors and traditional ways of life. Woven with the stories of those who produce and use them, this artform remains a powerful testament to creativity and imagination. The book has chapters on the history of the Cherokee, their baskets, forms and functions, materials and process, and artisan resources. A color insert details traditional weaving patterns. A final chapter includes biographies of 13 Cherokee basket weavers from the early 20th century.

Hill, Sarah. Weaving New Worlds: Southeastern Cherokee Women and Their Basketry. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1997.

As the subtitle suggests, Sarah Hill's book is a detailed examination of Cherokee basketry. It is considerably more than that, however, as Hill uses her subject to illuminate a much broader cultural history. Analyzing the production and use of baskets, along with changes in materials and styles, she explores Cherokee gender roles, relationships between Cherokees and their landscape, and the transformations brought by European arrival and expansion. She is particularly successful at describing how Cherokee women adapted to changes in their environment, finding new materials to continue a very old art form. She also provides a highly valuable account of the modern revitalization of basket-making in Cherokee schools and in the context of a growing tourism economy.

Leftwich, Rodney L. Arts and Crafts of the Cherokee. Cullowhee, NC: Land-of-the-Sky Press, 1970.

This book touches on Cherokee pottery, woodwork, weaving, stone crafts, crafts utilizing beads and shells, metalwork, weapon making, crafts using feathers, and leather. The book focuses predominantly on basketmaking covering materials, history, process, styles of basketry, basketry patterns, and decorations. There are pictures of the process of making the crafts and photographs of many finished pieces. Some individual Cherokee artisans are pictured and discussed. The original purpose and use of the various crafts are often provided. A bibliography is included; however, endnotes and citations are not included.

Salisbury, Richard F. and Elizabeth Tooker, eds. Affluence and Cultural Survival. Washington, DC: American Ethnological Society, 1984.

Affluence and Cultural Survival is primarily an anthropological study made up of chapters by different authors detailing the topic of creating wealth while maintaining an intact culture in various cultural settings. The book explores the topic of affluence amongst native peoples in places such as the Venezuelan Amazon, Fiji, Yemen, Catalonia, and Cherokee, North Carolina. As a whole the book has little to do with Appalachian crafts and folk art. The fifth chapter “Will the ‘Real’ Indian Survive? Tourism and Affluence at Cherokee, North Carolina” by Larry R. Stucki is more relevant to the topic of Appalachian folk art. The article voices the concern that the successful tourist industry of Cherokee may ultimately result in the “destruction of the ethnic uniqueness” of the Cherokee people. The references to Cherokee art are limited. There is brief mention of the sale of handicrafts to supplement agricultural income and an arts and crafts revival. The chapter has little to offer the Appalachian folk arts researcher other than economic and social motives for the resurgence of Cherokee craft production. The article includes numerous in-text citations and a full list of the references cited at the end of the chapter.

Bibliography prepared by George Frizzell.
Annotations written by Jason Woolf and Patrick Velde.
Edited by Bob Strauss and Ann Hallyburton.