Unit 8: Contemporary Cherokee Art in Oklahoma
(1900- 2006)


The following lesson plans, by Dr. Mary Jo Watson, are designed to provide students with an understanding of contemporary Cherokee art. This includes four artistic art forms, basket weaving, pottery, painting and sculpture.

For centuries objects of great beauty were made to use in spiritual ceremonies and the same careful attention was given to items used in everyday life. A well developed set of conventions and aesthetics are a long-standing tradition among all Indian nations including the Cherokees. Early explorer-artists, later, naturalists and historians noted the fine craftsmanship of the Cherokees. This included weaving mats and baskets, jewelry making, pottery, body ornamentation, careful attention to clothing and dressing hair. Construction of housing and forms of weapons required skilled hand and eye coordination. Exuberant expressions were found in Cherokee feather work, painted house posts and a myriad of artistic creations.

It is also important to note that Cherokee traditions and iconography are found in contemporary arts even though materials and the resulting forms in many cases are very different than that of the ancestors. Even though Cherokee arts and culture are dynamic, the artists maintain ideas that reach back for several millennia. This is explained in the information following.


Lesson 1: Understanding Indigenous Arts of the Americas
Lesson 2: Basketry
Lesson 3: Pottery
Lesson 4: Carving and Sculpture
Lesson 5: Painting

Guiding Questions:

  • How do the contemporary Cherokee artists honor their artistic and spiritual traditions in their arts? What are some of the older forms of Cherokee art?
  • What are the new materials and forms that are now prevalent in Cherokee arts?

Learning Objectives

After completing this lesson, students will:

  • Be able to recognize and describe four forms of Cherokee art
  • Be able to discuss the specific meaning of four traditional art forms.
  • Be able to discuss how the Cherokee artists have incorporated contemporary styles, and materials in four art forms.

Lesson 1: Understanding Indigenous Arts of the Americas

What are some of the Indigenous arts of the Americas? Do you know about the pre-contact art (prior to 1492), of the Southeastern Seaboard of the United States? Within the past several years, scholars including historians, anthropologists, and art historians turned their attention to the Indians of the Southeast. Thirty years ago, historian Charles Hudson stated that, “the native people of the American South—the Southeastern Indians possessed the richest culture of any of the native people north of Mexico.” (Hudson p. 3) This includes the arts of the Cherokees among others. De Soto saw architecture and artistic forms that he described as exceptional, though many are now lost. The early travelers into the Southeast including William Bartram (Hudson, 1976, p. 380), described the visual arts, including paintings, wood carvings, body ornamentation, pottery, basket making and jewelry.

Art historians are currently involved in developing a new understanding of all Indian art forms using a multi-disciplinary view including history and anthropology. An equally important aspect of investigation is speaking to the elders and spiritual leaders of tribal areas and stomp-dance grounds to gain valuable insight into Southeastern Indian beliefs. It is now recognized that the early arts “an outward expression of their belief system” and that the arts were used in relationship to music, dance and story telling (Thornton 1990, p. 10). Understanding the beliefs and values held by the early Cherokees provides a basis for our study and appreciation of the traditional icons (images) found in many contemporary Cherokee art works.

The Cherokees were originally located in the valleys of the southern Appalachians and some archaeologists believe they were growing corn about A.D. 1000 and that the, “ancestral mother Selu have given them corn on which they depended for subsistence.” (Perdue, p. 14.) From that time forward and into the Twentieth Century it was primarily the role of women to maintain the fields, prepare the food and care for the young. All creative work of that time, now regarded as art, was gender specific. Women wove mats and baskets which came in various sizes, some baskets nested one into another. They used split river cane with both natural color and dyes made from walnut hulls, berries and various roots. Women made cooking vessels of clay, including pots, cups, pitchers, and platters. Women sewed deer skins with bone awls into clothing and pouches woven with buffalo hair. Men constructed houses, and spent a good part of each year preparing weapons for the long, hard hunting season. Carving was the prevue of men, and they whitewashed their homes and painted on door posts. In 1775 James Adair (trader and historian) noted the fine quality of wooden stools, storage chests, booger masks, bowls spoons and dugout canoes all carved by Cherokee men (Leftwich p. 87-92).

The Southeastern Indian belief system is complex and shaded by the ensuing centuries. Anthropologists and historians have determined however that the system was one in which order and balance was sought after between three realms.

“Southeastern Indians perceived the world as having three realms: an Upper World and Underworld, which existed initially, followed later by This World. Each realm of the three-layered cosmos was occupied by specific beings and associated with particular concepts of time and symbolic values. The world and everything in it (even anomalies) fit within an orderly, although complex. pattern of existence and meaning, as expounded by Charles Hudson (1970):

In the Upper World, things existed in a grander and more pure form than
they did in This World. For example, animals in the Upper World were much larger than animals existing in This World. In contrast, beings in the
Underworld were ghosts, monsters, or creatures with inverted properties. The seasons in the Underworld were just the opposite of seasons in This World. Beings in the Underworld sometimes were rattlesnakes about their necks and wrists, a grisly inversion of the custom of wearing necklaces and bracelets in This World.

Art representing This World included realistic human portraits, objects that verified the chief’s authority, (maces and celts), and other items underscoring leadership status (gorgets with litter symbols), as well as abstract worldly symbols such as the cross, cross-in-circle, swastika, and circles of various designs” (Susan Powers 163-180).

The Upper World contain symbols rayed circle, rainbow, bilobed arrow, hand and eye, hand and arm bones were depicted on shell engravings and some images are found on pottery. The sun circles and bird imagery are also found with the Upper World.

Artistic images of The Underworld include water dwelling beings, fish, snakes, and Uktena, a Cherokee underwater monster who has a serpent body with wings and deer horns on its head. Another Cherokee mythological figure of The Underworld is Tlanuwa, a monstrous bird of prey. (Powers 173-4)

According to Hudson, “The Upper World epitomized order and expendableness, while the Under World epitomized disorder and change, and This World stood somewhere between perfect order and complete chaos.” (P. 123-125) Complex levels of ideology and corresponding iconography represent each of these worlds, and each held specific meanings. Symbols and signs of the Cherokees are replete with images from the earlier Southeastern mound cultures. Pottery designs include curvilineal swirls, birds and the cross and circle motifs. Images of falcons, turkeys, eagles and anthropomorphic creatures such as a winged-serpent are also present in the older arts. These are but a few of the symbols and concepts we can now discern from the early peoples.(Phillips and Phillips pp.146, 156. 1978). All humans had a role to play in the stability of the world, but at this point in time our interpretations are limited by our lack of deep understanding (Hudson. pp. 120-183). These beliefs and concepts were present in the early years of European incursion and many of the same iconography and motifs are present in current art forms of the Cherokees.

After European contact new materials such as cloth, metal tools and commercial paints brought about changes in Cherokee arts. This was in conjunction with an adaptation to some changes in their life including the acceptance of some of Christianity. After valiant resistance over a long period of time, thirteen different groups of Cherokees were removed from their southeastern homelands. Thousands of tribal members endured the agonies of removal and were settled in eastern Oklahoma during the Nineteenth Century(Conley p. 156). By the beginning of the Twentieth Century there were 35,000 Cherokees in Indian Territory ( Thornton, p. 116.)

The well established canons of artistic traditions were in place early on by Cherokee people using local materials, and exerting ingenuity to make things of beauty and for practical use. Later, after removal, like most Indians in the Twentieth Century, the Cherokees had mastered Euro-American media in all areas of the “arts.” This includes the use of oils, watercolors and later acrylic paints. Wood sculpture continued and cast bronze was employed by Cherokee artists. New materials found in eastern Oklahoma for weaving baskets and other new fiber materials were added to Cherokee creative expressions. Even now, although not part of this discussion, the latest works in art by Cherokees artists are found in film, digital photography and various electronic media.

The ability of the Indian Nations and, importantly, the Cherokees to incorporate and facilitate new materials and forms into their arts is the focus of the artists presented here. The resistance to complete change and the continuation of thousands of years of development and creative designs and motifs are present in the art of Cherokees in the 20th and 21st century. This is remarkable. A sense of continuity, a belief in ‘the people,’ as a united community is observed in the works of contemporary artists. The imagination of the people called the ‘Cherokees’ is a marker made of their tenacity and spirit.

Lesson 2: Basketry

Textual Sources for Baskets

Rodney L. Leftwich. Arts and Crafts of the Cherokee. Cherokee, North Carolina: Cherokee Publications, 1970. pp. 9-51. Permission to use pages 21-51 granted by Cherokee Publications. The complete text and a wide wide variety of Cherokee and Native American books can be ordered from online or by requesting a free catalog. Cherokee Publications, PO Box 430, Cherokee, NC, 28719. 800-948-3161

Tsalagi Basketry. Plants, History

James Mooney. Myths of the Cherokees. New York: Dover Publications, 1995.”How the World Was Made.” p. 240

“For more than a thousand years, women wove an astonishing array of baskets and mats for scores of uses. They made them for exchange with friends, neighbors, and strangers, for food gathering, processing, serving, and storage, and to utilize in ceremonials and rituals. They kept ceremonial objects and medicinal goods in baskets. They covered ceremonial grounds, seats, floors, and walls with mats. They concealed and protected household items and community valuables in baskets. Basketry was central to women’s activities and to Cherokee society.

Early European writers consistently identified basketry with women, ‘the chief, if not the only manufacturers.’ The association of women with basketry is one of the more enduring aspects of Cherokee culture. Woven goods----baskets and mats----document what women did, when, and how. They illuminate the work of women who transformed the environments that produced materials for basketry. They point to women’s roles in ceremonial, subsistence, and exchange systems. As objects created and utilized by women, baskets and mats conserved and conveyed their concepts, ideas, experience and expertise. They assert women’s cultural identity and reflected their values.” (Sara H. Hill. Weaving New Worlds. pp. 37-38.1997).

Basket making continued among the Five Tribes after removal into Oklahoma, the Cherokees and Choctaws maintaining the strongest link to this traditional form of women’s art. Materials used by the Oklahoma Cherokees included buck brush, blackjack, post oak and honeysuckle. Black walnut and bloodroot were the most common materials used for dyes. Although women have used commercial dyes for some time, many prefer traditional use of local dyes.

There are three basic weaving techniques used by Americans Indians, coiling, twining, and plaiting, and the last is used consistently by the Cherokees. Techniques used in plaiting are checker work, twill and wicker.

Bruce Bernstein. The Language of Native American Baskets. Washington: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of the American Indian, 2003. P.14.


Perhaps the most recognizable technique used by both eastern and western Cherokees are the double wall baskets. An inner wall is woven from the bottom up; then the spokes are folded over and the outer wall is woven down and the finished basket has two walls of equal quality.

Bessie Russell –Basket Weaver–Cherokee Nation-Rose, Oklahoma. Bessie Russell was declared a Cherokee National Living Treasure and Master Craftsperson in 1998. She studied under the Cherokee weaver Thelma Forest in 1975. Russell uses honeysuckle reed to make her baskets and dyes from walnuts, bloodroot, poke salad berries and plums. Basketry utilizes materials from the artists’ surrounding environment. Forms of her baskets include the turtle and pumpkin shaped baskets and she also makes arrow quiver baskets. Bessie Russell is a Cherokee speaker.

Questions for Analysis

Ask the students to be able to explain why basket weaving is a symbol of strength and courage for the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma. How has the Cherokee Nation recognized this art form at the present time?

Have the students discuss the different ways that baskets are made and discuss some unique qualities found in Cherokee basket making. (Cherokee Publications has made available a selection of Leftwich’s Arts and Crafts of the Cherokee for this lesson plan.)

Refer back to the quotation from Sara Hill above. Ask the students to think and reflect on the ideas that she presents in this statement. Baskets were an expression of much more than a simple woven product. Have students discuss the meanings and Cherokee designs. (A useful website for these purposes is; see below.)

Lesson 3: Pottery

Textural Sources

The Cherokee Nation Tahlequah, Oklahoma

“The Cherokee Phoenix” VOL, xxv, No. 2 - Spring 2001 Story and Photo by Will Chavez Staff writer. A story about Anna Belle Sixkiller Mitchell, potter -- a person declared a “national treasure” by the Cherokee Nation.

(Article on Anna Belle Sixkiller Mitchell.

There is considerable evidence of the flourishing pottery industry throughout the ancient southeastern United States. From Virginia through the Florida Keys, from across the south into Arkansas and Oklahoma, vessels manufactured by prehistoric Indians demonstrate a high developed art form.

In the eighteenth century James Adair commented on Cherokee pottery making:

They make earthen pots of very different sizes, so as to contain
from two to ten gallons; large pitchers to carry water; bowls, dishes, platters, basins, and a prodigious number of other vessels of such antiquated forms, as would be tedious to describe, and impossible to name. (Adair, History of the American Indians.)

Cherokee and most Southeastern pottery was usually formed by coiling. This process involved gathering and processing clay, making a flat-clay base and laying long coils of clay wound in a circle one upon another until the desired height was reached. Walls or sides were continually smoothed by hand and by paddling with a wooden tool to keep an evenness on the vessel walls. Designs were applied by hand or with carved wooden stamping paddles. The clay was then fired. Pottery continued on a limited basis in Oklahoma through out the early years of the Twentieth Century. The revival of pottery making commences in the second half of the twentieth century and the premier Cherokee leader is Anna Belle Sixkiller Mitchell. (Read the story about Anna Belle in the Cherokee Phoenix-web page listed above).

Like many Oklahoma Indian artists, especially women, Anna Belle did not turn to the study of tribal culture and pottery until after she raised her children. She traveled to museums searching for Cherokee pottery and examples of how they were made. Over a period of time she became familiar with the older Southeastern Indian pottery and began creating pots that have won national and international acclaim. She uses designs found in nature including, birds, human figures, animals, reptiles and plant life, similar to those found on pots throughout the southeast. She went beyond the Southeast and studied the pre-contact work of the ancient Indians in the Hopewell area in the Northeastern United States and the Quapaws of Arkansas. Many of her pre-contact designs include scrolls, interlocking squares, representing the four cardinal points, falcon, eagle, sun circles and many bird effigy pots.

Although pottery was one of the most diminished forms of American Indian art in the late part of the 19th and early part of the 20th Centuries, Oklahoma and the Cherokees in particular are experiencing a revival of pottery in the 21st century. Many of the potters are expressing the ancient designs of their ancestors of the Southeast and are accomplished with their individual creative ideas. Other important Cherokee potters include, Crystal Hanna, Jane Osti, Bill Glass, Demos Glass, Victoria Mitchell to name only a few.


Questions for Analysis:

Ask the students to discuss why making pottery would be important to Cherokee artists. Why would the continue to use ancient designs? Why would Anna Belle Mitchell say, “ I believe without art you don’t have culture and without culture you don’t have art.”?

Using the websites below that are devoted to pottery by various Cherokee artists, divide the class into groups and ask them to produce reports on the similarities and differences within pottery artists and, then, to note the design features that basketry and pottery might share.

Divide the class into groups. Ask the different groups to think of ways that their own culture is represented by objects or items. (This could be something as simplistic as the idea of jeans and tennis shoes) Clothing, music, films, Ipods, and numerous other examples are all symbols of contemporary culture. Explore some works on Cherokee art and some websites on Cherokee art: what might be corresponding objects or items in Cherokee culture that would “match” similar objects in other cultures?

Ask the students to relate their culture of arts and beliefs and how it defines their identity.


Lesson 4: Carving/Sculpture

Textural Sources

Rodney L. Leftwich. Arts and Crafts of the Cherokee. Cherokee, North Carolina: Cherokee Publications, 1970. PP. 87-107

An article from the Cherokee Phoenix, xxv, 2, Spring 2002, Arts and Culture section on Sam Watts-Kidd who art work is displayed at the Cherokee Heritage Center and helps to structure the Trail of Tears exhibit. A .pdf file through this website.

Woodcarving and sculpture were observed in the Southeast in the early reports by Europeans. Members of the de Soto expedition saw a building filled with wooden statuary. (Hudson, p. 380) Many of the wooden items decayed but examples can be found from the Key Marco site in Florida and from the Spiro Mounds in Oklahoma. Following their ancestors, the Cherokees made numerous carved hunting tools including bows and arrows, clubs, lances and cane and reed knives. (Swanton p. 564). Wooden stools, dishes, spoons, platters, trays, scratchers, and dugout canoes were part of the wood carved objects. The Eastern Cherokees and those removed into Oklahoma were surrounded by forests and different types of wood with which to carve. In eastern Oklahoma wood workers have a broad choice of walnut, red cedar, wild cherry, Catalpa, and Sassafra among other types of wood.

One of Oklahoma’s greatest Cherokee artists is Willard Stone. (1916-1985). “Stone has been a major force in Indian sculpture since 1940. He has perfected a smooth, rounded, wood sculpting style that has come to be recognized as a regional style unique to Oklahoma.” (Archuleta and Strickland, p. 96.) His subjects included children, mothers, animals birds, buffalo and Indian themes. He was always drawing and painting but as a teenager he suffered a serious injury that almost ended his artistic career. He picked up an odd object that was a dynamite cap that blew off most of three fingers on his right hand and damaged his face and chest. A plastic surgeon repaired his face and chest but his fingers were inoperable. Eventually he commenced working in wet clay and he found that he could make figures with only partial fingers. He was encouraged by the famous Oklahoman Grant Foreman and later by the Tulsa oilman Thomas Gilcrease.

Three of his most reknowned pieces refer to the Trail of Tears and the Removal. One, now located at the Cherokee Heritage Center in Tahlequah, is titled “Exodus.” This elegant work refers to the removal of Cherokees form their homes in the Southeast and all of life’s journey. Following is Stone’s comment concerning this special piece of sculpture.

“Over a trail of tears, reaching from the Great Smoky Mountains in North Carolina, Georgia and Tennessee to eastern Oklahoma, the Cherokees West were uprooted, transferred and transplanted in our present state. In this block of native walnut, from a tree, older perhaps than the time of removal, I have tried to capture the tragedy and heavy load of sorrow and heartache being overcome by the Cherokee’s courage and determination. I have tried to boil down and bring into focus the heavy load of life the whole of mankind carries—and put it into an individual mother and child. The design is composed of two large teardrops, one balancing the other, on a base representing the contour of the earth—for each individual’s trail as he carries his load through a lifetime. One teardrop is composed of his courage and determination to survive in his search for happiness; the other is representative of the heavy load of love in his heart and on his back, that he willingly carries in his short time on his long trail.” (Hamilton and Stone p. 71) (see:

This image was created in 1967 and is 18" x 32" x 61/2" and is made of Walnut with some limited bronze.


Questions for Analysis

Ask the students to read Stone’s statement about his work which is quoted above. See if they notice the shift from the tragedy of removal, to the struggles of life that he references with this work. This work represents to Stone more than removal–it is a lesson about the struggle of all human life during our time on earth.

Ask the students to research the work of Willard Stone on the web. See if they can find rabbits, great Cherokee Chiefs, or children that were carved by Stone. Ask them to talk about the image and their reactions to the piece.


Ideas for those interested in learning more:

Leftwich’s work is out of print, but it is available through library lending systems and Cherokee Publications is planning an updated version. He traces the development of Cherokee wood-carving from colonial contact days to the mid-20th Century. The carving ranges over canoes, outdoor games, representations of animals, and of human garb. Wood carving was largely a male activity. Find this book, do some reading, and research wood carving in the Cherokee. Does this tell you anything about how Cherokee men have thought of themselves or can you describe what a Cherokee man “sees” as beautiful (or ugly)? Take into account Stone’s work as well.


Lesson 5: Painting

Textural Sources

“My Version of Reality: An Interview with Dorothy Sullivan”
“Cherokee Artists: Museums, Galleries, and Artists’ Organizations”

These two important web sites are provided by the well-known Cherokee artist America Meredith. I am indebted to her for her continual work to keep the Cherokee artists’ and the Cherokee Nation in the forefront.

To see the art of American Meredith go to: There are several other links that she has provided which details her and other Cherokee artists’ work.

As the twentieth century opened the arts of the Cherokee were continuing along traditional lines, however changes were occurring. Indian students, including those inclined toward the arts were slowing beginning to combine the traditions of the ancestors with new media and materials including painting. Cherokee men and women had long been concerned with shape, form, line and color. As stated above, their aesthetics standards of fine quality, and superior hand and eye coordination were directed into new areas of expressive art. An outstanding example of a Cherokee artist who was a pioneer into the new areas of possibilities of the twentieth century was Cecil Dick. (1915-1992).

“As a small child Dick spoke only Cherokee. ‘Orphaned at 12 and reared in Indian boarding schools, the artist became an authority on Cherokee mythology and the Cherokee written language.” (Snodgrass 1968 quoted in Lester 1995, p. 151.) Dick spanned the century and included in one of his paintings a traditional Southeastern Warrior in the forefront on the picture plane with a rocket ship blasting off into space in the back ground. He received great honors during his lifetime for his art work which was singularly focused on “the Woodlands,” or Southeastern Indian style. This style is recognized by the use of the mound culture symbols, traditional dress of the Cherokees, and themes that reflected the life of Southeastern Indians. (For examples, see websites cited below.)

After World War II the surge of returning Indian veterans and the numbers of Indian students in art schools accelerated. The Philbrook Museum in Tulsa, Oklahoma opened an ‘Indian Annual,’ where Oklahoma and national Indian painters, potters, weavers and sculptors could be recognized with prestigious awards for their fine works. Many Cherokees were included in the group of top artists. During the last half of the twentieth century some of the important painters of the Cherokee Nation include Joan Hill, who has won over 250 national and international awards and is perhaps the best known Cherokee painter. Others include the late Talmage Davis, Troy Anderson, Brooks Henson and America Meredith to name a few. Their styles are different yet all reflect a Southeastern bent including that of the Dorothy Sullivan.

The work of Dorothy Sullivan, however, has a curious and unusual look and style and is described by some as ‘post-modern.’ Her dedication to reality, to the truth about Cherokee life and her own family history is rife throughout her paintings. More to the point, in her painting Sullivan represents the quintessential artist historian, who goes into her heritage -- family, clan and tribe -- and provides her individual creative take on events, people and mythology.

In the interview with America Meredith she was asked the question about proving herself and following is her reply. “....My Dad was born in a double-log cabin over on my grandma’s Cherokee allotment over near Stillwell in Goingsnake District When we were growing up he always taught us about being proud of being Cherokee. It was always something we just took for granted. It was just part of us.” She paints individuals of the Seven Clans of the Cherokees along with their respective symbols. She paints contemporary family members and traces their ancestry in portraits of the ancestors. During her career she has received great honors from Oklahoma and across the United States.

Mary Jo Watson, Ph.D.
Director, School of Art

Associate Dean, College of Fine Arts

Oklahoma University

Questions for Analysis

Have the students research the history of the Cherokees on the internet. Determine the location of the Eastern and the Western Cherokees. Have a discussion of the similarity of the early art styles between the two groups and the differences.

After using the internet or interlibrary loan to find examples of Dick’s and Hill’s work, along with any complementary artists, define the similarities and differences between the two (and related) artists in what they depict, what forms/shapes or lines they use, what colors they work in. Your research need only rely on a few examples from each artist.

Have students draw a chart and list the Seven Clans and their symbols. Search the internet and any available books on artists who portray the Cherokee clans. (For some help, see internet sources, below.)

Have a class discussion on how the Cherokee artists have maintained tradition art forms/concepts within the medium of painting.


Linking the Units and Lessons Together

Robert Conley, Unit 7, mentions Cecil Dick as an artist who was part of the reviving interest in and authenticity of Cherokee art. Examine the poems of Unit 7, the passages from Conley’s Mountain Windsong, the discussion of Dick and the examples of his art that you find through this Unit. Then, pick an artist of your choice from this Unit and either write a paper or have a class discussion on any of the following four sets of questions:

What role do all arts play in cultural recovery of the Cherokee – of any people?
What are the different roles of different arts in imitating, expressing, or representing a people’s life?

More general reflections which may draw on any of the materials of the lessons are possible:

Is it reasonable for art to be “inaccurate” in its imitations, expressions, or representations of that life? Does imitation, representation, or expression have to be about the past or can it be about what a people should be like? Or about what a people might be like in the future?

Should history, politics, religion, and art (writing or pictures) “say the same thing” about a people? Or, should they speak differently? What have you found when you reflect back on two or more Units’ materials? Are the writers, artists, historians, lecturers, teachers and others saying different or the same things? Can you find reasons for any differences without necessarily finally concluding someone must be “wrong”? Are there other cases where you think somebody definitely is wrong or right?

The Cherokee Heritage Center was placed on the site of the first Women’s Seminary and three columns from that building still stand on the site. The Center holds classes for both Cherokee and people who are not Cherokee. It is a museum, also, which shows exhibits of Cherokee life before, during, and well after the Trail of Tears. It is also a museum which introduces people to contemporary Cherokee art. Do you think education is important to the Cherokee? If so, why – site from the various Units to prove your point. Do you think there is a link between art, education, and culture? Site from the various units to prove your points.

Internet Sources

Many of the sites online are commercial to varying degrees. They do, however, provide valuable examples of materials, weaving processes, types of baskets, types of design in basketry, pottery, and painting. In addition to the sites listed within Mary Jo Watson’s lecture, ACTC offers the following for further examples of art and artists. If you use these in your research, consult with your teacher.

General: This site has been formed to display and protect the work of contemporary Cherokee artists. Viewers will find basketry, sculpture, pottery, and painting examples of contemporary art. Many of the artists discussed by Mary Jo Watson have their work displayed at this website.


Most sites will illustrate the double-walled baskets discussed above, by Watson.

Rodney L. Leftwich. Arts and Crafts of the Cherokee. Cherokee, North Carolina: Cherokee Publications, 1970. pp. 9-51. Permission to use pages 21-51 granted by Cherokee Publications. The complete text and a wide wide variety of Cherokee and Native American books can be ordered from online or by requesting a free catalog. Cherokee Publications, PO Box 430, Cherokee, NC, 28719. 800-948-3161 A useful site that gives examples of Cherokee basket types, weaves, and cane materials also discussed in Leftwich. Copyright must be honored to use articles. A quick overview of weaving, particularly the large burden baskets, in the area around Asheville, NC. Cited by Watson, above. Website of a contemporary artist who teaches basket weaving using traditional materials (honeysuckle) and designs. Some examples of weavers at work. A blog with some schematic drawings of traditional basket designs which helps the viewer understand the basic element in repetitive designs. The entire site represents the Cherokee Basket Weavers’ Association. In particular the work of Bessie Russell, cited above by Mary Jo Watson, is discussed and illustrated.

Pottery The University of North Carolina has engaged in a Cherokee Pottery Revitalization project, looking to recover and reproduce pottery of the 1500-1900 era. Anna Belle Sixkiller Mitchell website. A site for Crystal Hanna, potter. See also the Cherokee Artists Association website above. A site for Jane Osti, potter. A brief article through the Cherokee Heritage Center on Victoria Mitchell (Vazquez’s) selection as a visiting artist to the Native American Museum of the Smithsonian. An example of Victoria Mitchell’s work.

Carving/Sculpture Perhaps the most famous of all the Cherokee woodcarvers, perhaps artists. Visit the other sites, as well, to see some of his world-reknowned works. Be sure to see this piece, displayed in the White House.

Painting Among many images from Native Americans, one painting of Cecil Dick’s is displayed. Wayne County Arts Alliance: one painting, two prints by Joan Hill displayed. Twin Territories is a gallery which frequently has for sale the work of Cecil Dick and Joan Hill. Thus, viewers may gather some idea of the styles of both artists by viewing this website. Three-Hawks Trading Company gallery displaying four images of Dorothy Sullivan’s work, including a Best in Show in 1994 at the Cherokee Heritage Center’s Trail of Tears art exhibit, which shows the Seven Symbols of the Clans.


Adair, James. History of the American Indians. New York: Promontory Press, 1986.

Bernstein, Bruce. The Language of Native American Baskets. Washington: Smithsonian Institute, 2003.

Conley, Robert J. The Cherokee Nation A History Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2005.

Gibson, Arrell M. The Oklahoma Story. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1978.

Hamilton, Margaret W. And Sophie I. Stone. Willard Stone Sculptor-Philosopher. Edmond, Oklahoma: Presimmon Publications, 1993.

Hill, Sarah H. Weaving New Worlds Chapel Hill and London. The University of North Carolina Press, 1997.

Hudson, Charles. The Southeastern Indians. Nashville: The University of Tennessee Press, 1970

Leftwich, Rodney L. Arts and Crafts of the Cherokee. Cherokee, North Carolina: Cherokee Publications, 1970.

Mooney, James. Myths of the Cherokee New York: Dover Publications, 1995.

Theda Perdue. Cherokee Women. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1998.

Power Susan C. Early Art of the Southeastern Indians. Athens: The University of Georgia Press, 2004.

Thornton, Russell. The Cherokees: A Population History. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press,

Swanton, John R. The Indians of the Southeastern United States. Washington D.C. Smithsonian Institution Press, 1979.