from Chuck Hoskin Jr.
Guest opinion. The 7,000-square-mile Cherokee Nation Reserve is a special place full of vibrant culture and fascinating history. Through public art, we honor and improve our culture and history. Public art ensures that all the people on our reservation, whether they live here or are just guests, can find beauty and curiosity about the rich heritage of the Cherokee people.
Cherokee Nation and Cherokee Nation Businesses have sponsored many works of public art in our reservation. Most recently, we dedicated a new mural in downtown Claremore, in partnership with the city of Claremore and the Claremore Maine Street program. The partnership was sparked by the efforts of local Cherokee board member Keith Austin.
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Located on the outside wall of Main Street Tavern, large mural profiles feature Cherokee Nation citizens from Claremore and Rogers County, including Cherokee Nation chief JB Milam, U.S. Navy Admiral Joko Clark, poetess Maggie Culver Fry, and Andy distance runner. Payne, playwright Lynn Riggs and rodeo advocate and political leader Clem McSpadden.
We have the pleasure of celebrating our common history and educating the public about the influential Cherokees who have called Claremore and Rodgers County home. Each of these Cherokees has left an undeniable mark on the world. Storytelling is the foundation of Cherokee art, and this mural is the perfect example of how these skills are intertwined. As Councilor Austin said at a recent dedication ceremony, “our hope is that the mural inspires the community to learn more about them so that their legacy will continue to flourish for generations to come.”
The mural features the work of contemporary Cherokee Nation artist Sherry Pack. Unfortunately, she died last year, but we were able to digitize her fresco concept and reproduce it in Clermore. Like the Cherokees revered in the mural, Sherry Pack’s talents and hard work continue to inspire and add beauty to our lives.
In our capital, Talequa, the Cherokee Nation also celebrates the first outdoor art installation within the city’s cultural trail. The national treasure of the Cherokee Traci Rabbit is the first artist to be featured as part of the cultural journey, and we have several large-scale reproductions of her work on temporary display.
The cultural trail was opened last year as a way to improve passability between cultural sites, while housing both permanent and temporary Cherokee art exhibits. Additional art will be added to the aisle over time and we will officially dedicate the space later this summer.
Vinita is home to another Cherokee Nation public art project at the Anna Mitchell Cultural Center and Welcome Center, named after the Cherokee National Treasure, known for revitalizing Cherokee’s traditional 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 also to make it accessible to all, is our reserve.
The main structure of the Anna Mitchell Cultural Center, with its high walls and design, resembles embossed ceramic vessels created by Cherokee people from time immemorial. Cherokee National Treasures Bill Glass and Demos Glass have built a number of large-scale works of art for the site, including a seven-arrow sculpture depicting the seven clans of the Cherokee nation and the seven sacred directions. Cherokee Nation artist Tama Roberts built several of the art elements located inside the center.
Art represents life in many ways, and these public art offerings prove how committed the Cherokee Nation is to the communities and people within our reservations. Works of public art, sculptures and outdoor installations are a strong component of all Cherokee Nation spaces and properties. Under Cherokee Nation law, we set aside a percentage of the cost of all major new construction projects to purchase and display Cherokee art. No matter where you are in the Cherokee nation, you will be surrounded by reminders of our interconnected life, culture and history as Cherokee people.
Chuck Hoskin Jr. is the chief leader of the Cherokee nation.
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