Cherokee Heritage Center

So last year I did a post about my job at the Cherokee Heritage Center. I was a master artist on a grant through the Oklahoma Arts Council. I worked there a few months on the grant making pottery and giving tours.
When I graduated I went back home to Claremore and worked at my long time job at Walmart. Lucky for me, a seasonal job came available in the village as a guide. I started back in the village in March and I have been there ever since.

When you visit the museum there are many different things to see. We have a rural village and also a new village called Diligwa. We also have an exhibit room that rotates shows and a museum centered around the Trail of Tears. If you want to check out our website you can follow the link.

I wanna share with you about our village and what the villagers do to ensure that our culture, heritage, and language never die out.

This year we have been blessed to be able to have as many villagers as we do. We are run by a non-profit organization and we all know that for non-profits money is always tight. But this year our rag tag crew is down right awesome.

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The guys this year are: White, Nate, Francis, Tim (the star of our show), Pete, Danny, and Steve.

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The ladies are: Sam, Feather, Emma, Danielle (me), Cat, and Cassie.

Both of these pictures were taken on the day the we had the grand opening of our new village Diligwa. The villagers each carried items from the old village to the new village during the ceremony to symbolize the move to our new home. I carried a buffalo hide and a fingerwoven belt. My other partner in crime was White, we were the buffalo people.

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The last picture was the villagers waiting for our cue to head over to Diligwa. I was lucky enough to make it in an advertisement. I may be blury and in the back ground but I’m there!

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I also am in another picture that the center used in one of its brochures. But again I am the one trying to get the ball our of Zach’s sticks so you can’t see my face.

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Come to think of it I’m ALWAYS in the background. We did a shoot for Oklahoma Tourism’s new commercial and guess what!? I’m in the back too….

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Looks as though that is my destiny. You can check out the video here… look in the back. I am the one holding a stick pounding hickory nuts (its really blury)… one day I will have the lead singing role… fingers crossed!

But enough about that, Let’s talk about the village. I don’t have very many pictures of the old village but I do want to tell you about it. It was built in the late 60’s and our oldest building is 47 years old. The council house was the first building to go up and it is still standing.

Our new village opened in the beginning of June of this year. It is really nice and a very acturate portrayal of Cherokee life in the early 1700’s. Our village, Diligwa, specifically focuses on the year 1710. We are still living in the traditional homes and wear the traditional clothing, but some European goods are making their way into our every day lives.

We live in two homes, depending on the time of year. We have a summer home and a winter home and they are built side by side.

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Our men wear a breech cloth and leggings both made out of deerskin. They also wear a trade shirt in the cooler months. The women wear a wrap skirt and a one shoulder top both made from deer skins. A big difference in the way the men and women dress is that the men have more ornamentation and accessories (go figure). The men wear a belt and garters for their leggings that are finger-woven by our women. Which is what I mostly demonstrate. I also make most of the moccasins for the villagers (10 of the 14).

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We wear pucker toe moccasins made from deer hides.They are a center seem moccasin that are make from one piece of leather wrapping around your foot and being sown down the middle.

And these are some photos of the belts that I make. It takes me about 8 hours to finish a belt. The time does vary depending on width, length and the difficulty of the design. I do the regular diagonal, the chevron, and the lightning bolt. I also do the arrowhead but I don’t really feel like I mastered it yet….

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This a garter set that I made Steve to match his belt.

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This belt was made for Cierra, I make LOTS of belts for her and her many dresses! =)

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This belt is a double lightning bolt that will be appearing in our upcoming Homecoming Art Show for Holiday. It will be my first art show!

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This one is my weaving station in the village, I may need to expand.

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This is one of my favorites, I love the color combination.

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This belt was for wee emma, or turle runs as she is known in the village.

I have also taught a few of the girls how to make their own belts. I am really proud of sam. This is her first belt, it is the simple diagonal design.

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Her second belt, which she finished today, also uses the simple diagonal the stands are just arranged a little different. The belt looks amazing, especially for it only being her second one.

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She is all grown up and clothing her own village husband now. Time just flies…. hahaha.

I also started making purses out of cane which is what we traditionally split and use for our baskets. I have made three now and I’m really happy with how they are turning out. The diamond design is my first one and the one Sam is wearing is my third, I think it is the best so far.

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I love working in the Village. It is definitely one of my passions to share my culture. Our new village still has some work to be done but overall it is an amazing place for us to share the Cherokee way of life with people. And people do come from all over the world to visit us. We are currently open 7 days a week from 9-5.If you are ever in or visiting Northeastern Oklahoma we would love for you to come out and visit!

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2 thoughts on “Cherokee Heritage Center

  1. Thank you for this post. I just learned a lot about what you do in the Village. I’m starting to think we might see some regular blog post?????

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