Texas Award-winning Cherokee beadwork artist Martha Berry
is one of eight women being honored by the "Women in Tyler" organization.
The eight women who fit this year's theme of "women who do amazing
things" were recently invited to a reception at the McClendon House
in Tyler to meet and greet with other influential women in the organization.
This is the 14th year for the event.
"I am deeply honored to be selected to be a Women of Tyler 2013
honoree. It is important that the revival of Cherokee beadwork be
recognized all over the USA, and the world. This recognition in
Texas is a good beginning, we still have much work to do," Berry
Berry, 64, of Tyler, taught herself the craft of beading and
is credited with bringing back the art form for the Cherokee people.
Her work is displayed in museums across the nation and she divides
her time teaching others the craft and doing research.
She researches and creates beadwork that is inspired by the
styles of Southeastern/Woodland Native Americans. Those Native nations
include the Cherokee, Creek, Choctaw, Chickasaw, Seminole, Yuchi
and Alabama. Her beadwork often illustrates the stories and lore
of her Cherokee ancestors.
said Cherokee beadwork evolved from the trade network Cherokees
established with white traders in the mid-1600s. They bought or
traded for European glass seed beads, steel needles, silk thread
and ribbon, and cloth made of wool, cotton and linen. By 1776, Cherokee
bead workers had become skilled at their craft using the materials
they got from white traders.
The Golden Age for Cherokee beadwork was from about 1800 to
1840. After 1840 Cherokee beadwork and the number of Cherokee bead
workers dwindled due mostly to the forced removal of the Cherokees
in 1838 and 1839.
"Following the removal, the Cherokees abandoned their beautiful
beaded art. The relocation had left them sick, cold, hungry, exhausted
and facing the rebuilding of their homes, farms and families," Berry
said in a 2007 interview. "There was no place in their lives for
luxury items such as beautifully beaded moccasins, bandolier bags,
sashes, belts and leggings."
To honor women, "Women in Tyler" picks a theme and solicits
candidates' names from its members and the community. The ladies
are invited as honored guests to a luncheon on March 21.