Arts & Crafts is taking advantage of a recent grant to teach
traditional crafts to a new generation of Cherokee.
1946, the non-profit Qualla Arts & Crafts Mutual has provided
a place for Cherokee artists and craftspeople to market their creations.
It was the first co-op ever managed on a Native American reservation.
today in a gallery in the heart of Cherokee, Qualla Arts & Crafts
features beadwork, basketry, woodcarving, finger weaving, pottery,
jewelry, masks, dolls and other works created by the co-op's 300
2002 the co-op's board and staff determined that a series of workshops
taught by members would be a worthwhile endeavor. As part of the
co-ops's efforts to keep its standards at the highest levels, they
wanted the workshops to serve as an opportunity to help members
share their knowledge and their pride in their workmanship with
each other. In addition, they wanted the sessions to help members
of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI) who were interested
in learning the traditions of their tribe to master new skills.
Arts & Crafts applied for and received a $20,000 grant from
the Cherokee Preservation Foundation in fall 2002 to cover instructors'
stipends and expenses to document the workshops. As a result, more
than 200 members of the EBCI participated in workshops about weaving
and rimming baskets, woodcarving (which included making masks and
basket handles), and Lifeways, a class in which several enrolled
members of the EBCI spoke about the past and how things relate to
the past. Other funding was provided by in-kind assistance from
staff and volunteers, the co-op's operating budget and a fundraising
involvement was the most important result of the workshops," said
Vicki Ledford, the general manager of Qualla Arts & Crafts.
"People loved the opportunity to spend time with each other and
to better understand what their parents went through at an earlier
time. For instance, people shared stories about what their mothers
used to do when they wove baskets, and even seasoned artists learned
some new things by sharing.
learned that freezing bloodroot in freezer containers is a good
way to preserve bloodroot for later use," Ledford said. "Before,
basket weavers dug bloodroot as they needed it or dug extra and
dried it for use in the winter. But at the workshop, we learned
how freezing bloodroot keeps it fresh and more colorful."
Maney, who taught several of the basket workshops, loved seeing
teenagers at the evening sessions.
did my heart good to see young people and adults coming together
and laughing like family," Maney said. "The youngsters turned out
some nice pieces, too."
Esquivel, Betty's son, made a basket for the first time at one of
the workshops. He has always admired her work, but when he split
white oak for his mother's classes, he was inspired to try his hand
at basket weaving himself.
that I know how to find white oak, work it up into splits and gather
dyes, I decided I was ready to learn how to make a basket," he said.
instructors were Davy Arch (woodcarving, basket handles, mask making
and Lifeways) and Ramona Lossie and her sister Lucille Lossie (single
and double weave baskets).
said the workshops strengthened Qualla Arts & Crafts as an organization.
members got to spend time with members of the community and served
as mentors," she said, "And our staff got to learn more about the
craft workers and what their work involves that helps us
sell their work more effectively."
Arts & Crafts has applied for a new grant from the Cherokee
Preservation Foundation to offer additional workshops to enrolled
members in late 2003 or early 2004.
Qualla Arts & Crafts Mutual is located on U.S. 441 at the intersection
with Drama Road, where the entrance of the drama, "Unto These Hills,"
is located. The co-op's telephone number is 828.497.3103.