CHIEF CHAT: Cherokee Nation Invests in Public Art Projects | News

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Cherokee Nation’s 7,000-square-mile reservation is a special place with a vibrant culture and fascinating history.

Through public art, we honor and enhance our culture and history. Public Art ensures that everyone we book, whether staying here or just visiting, finds beauty and curiosity about the rich heritage of the Cherokee people.

Cherokee Nation and the Cherokee Nation Enterprise sponsor many works of public art on our reservations. We recently partnered with the City of Claremore and the Claremore Avenue Program to create a new mural in downtown Claremore. The partnership was sparked by the efforts of local Cherokee Council member Keith Austin.

Located on the exterior of the Main Street Tavern, a huge mural profile distinguishes Cherokee Nation citizens from Claremore and Rogers counties, including Cherokee Nation Chief JB Milam, U.S. Admiral Jocko Clark, poet Maggie Culver Fry, long-distance runner Andy Payne, Playwright Lynn Riggs, and rodeo advocate and political leader Clem Maxparden.

We are excited to celebrate our shared history and to inform the public about the influential Cherokees who call Claremore and Rogers counties home. Each of these Cherokees left an undeniable mark on the world. Storytelling is fundamental to Cherokee art, and this mural is a perfect example of how these skills are intertwined. As Assemblyman Austin said at the recent dedication ceremony, “We hope this mural will inspire the community to learn more about them so that their legacy can continue to thrive for generations to come.”

This mural features the work of contemporary Cherokee Nation artist Shirley Parker. She sadly passed away last year, but we were able to digitize her mural concept and reproduce it at Claremore. Like the Cherokees honored in the mural, Sherri Pack’s talent and hard work continue to inspire us and add beauty to our lives.

In our capital, Tahlequah, Cherokee Nation is also celebrating the first outdoor art installation within the city centre’s cultural corridor. Cherokee National Treasure Traci Rabbit was the first artist on the cultural road and we have several large reproductions of her work on temporary display.

Opened last year, the cultural corridor aims to improve walking distance between cultural sites while hosting permanent and temporary Cherokee art exhibitions. Over time, additional art will be added to the path and we will officially dedicate the space later this summer.

Vinita is home to another Cherokee National public art program at the Anna Mitchell Cultural and Welcome Center, named after the Cherokee National Treasure known for revitalizing traditional Cherokee pottery. The project was the vision of our First Lady, January Hoskin, who encouraged us not only to increase our investment in public art, but to make it available to all parts of our reservations.

The main structure of the Anna Mitchell Cultural Center, with its high walls and design, resembles stamped pottery created by the Cherokee people since time immemorial. Cherokee National Treasure Bill Glass and Demos Glass built several large-scale artworks for the site, including a sculpture of seven arrows reflecting the seven tribes and seven sacred directions of the Cherokee Nation. Cherokee Nation artist Tama Roberts built several artistic elements inside the center.

Art represents life in many ways, and these public artworks are a testament to the Cherokee Nation’s commitment to the communities and peoples within our reservations. Public artworks, sculptures and installations in open spaces are an important part of all Cherokee Nation spaces and properties. In accordance with Cherokee State law, we dedicate a percentage of the cost of all major new construction to the purchase and display of Cherokee artwork. No matter where you are in the Cherokee Nation, you will be surrounded by the interconnected life, culture and history of the Cherokee people.

Chuck Hoskin Jr. is the chief chief of the Cherokee Nation.

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