Through Chuck Hoskin Jr
guest opinion The Cherokee Nation’s 7,000 square mile reservation is a special place filled with vibrant culture and fascinating history. Through public art, we honor and promote our culture and history. Public art ensures that all people on our reservation, whether resident or visiting, can find beauty and curiosity about the rich heritage of the Cherokee Indians.
Cherokee Nation and Cherokee Nation Businesses have sponsored many public works of art on our reservation. We recently dedicated a new mural in downtown Claremore in partnership with the City of Claremore and the Claremore Main Street Program. The partnership was sparked by the efforts of local Cherokee Council member Keith Austin.
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The large mural profiles on the outside wall of the Main Street Tavern honored citizens of the Cherokee Nation from Claremore and Rogers County, including Cherokee Nation Chief JB Milam, US Navy Admiral Jocko Clark, poet Maggie Culver Fry, distance runner Andy Payne and playwright Lynn Riggs and rodeo- Proponent and political leader Clem McSpadden.
We’re excited to celebrate our shared history and educate the public about the influential Cherokees who have called Claremore and Rogers County home. Each of these Cherokees undeniably made their mark on the world. Storytelling is the foundation of Cherokee art, and this mural is the perfect example of how those skills are intertwined. As Councilor Austin said at the recent dedication ceremony, “Our hope is that the mural will inspire the community to learn more about her so her legacy can continue to flourish for generations to come.”
The mural features the work of contemporary Cherokee Nation artist Sherri Pack. She sadly passed away last year but we were able to digitize her mural concept and replicate it in Claremore. Much like the Cherokees honored in the mural, Sherri Pack’s talents and hard work continue to inspire us and bring beauty to our lives.
In our capital, Tahlequah, the Cherokee Nation is also celebrating the first outdoor art installation within the downtown cultural trail. Cherokee National Treasure Traci Rabbit is the first artist to be featured on the culture trail, and we have several large-scale reproductions of her work on temporary display.
The cultural trail opened last year to improve walkability between cultural sites while also hosting both permanent and temporary Cherokee art exhibits. More artwork will be added to the trail over time, and we will be officially inaugurating the space later this summer.
Vinita is home to another Cherokee Nation public art project at the Anna Mitchell Cultural and Welcome Center, named for the Cherokee National Treasure known for the revival of traditional Cherokee pottery. The project was the vision of our First Lady, Jan Hoskin, who has encouraged us not only to increase our investment in public art, but to make it accessible to all is our reservation.
The main structure of the Anna Mitchell Cultural Center, with its high walls and design, resembles stamped pottery vessels traditionally made by the Cherokee Indians. Cherokee National Treasures Bill Glass and Demos Glass have built several large-scale works of art for the site, including a sculpture of seven arrows, representing the seven clans of the Cherokee Nation and the seven sacred directions. Cherokee Nation artist Tama Roberts built several of the art elements located at the center.
Art represents life in many ways, and these public art offerings demonstrate how committed the Cherokee Nation is to the communities and people within our reservation boundaries. Works of public art, outdoor sculpture and installations are a strong component of all Cherokee Nation spaces and properties. In accordance with Cherokee Nation law, we dedicate a percentage of the cost of all major new construction projects to the purchase and display of Cherokee art. No matter where you are in the Cherokee Nation, you will be surrounded by reminders of our interconnected lives, culture and history as Cherokee Indians.
Chuck Hoskin, Jr. is the most important chief of the Cherokee Nation.
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