Art For Indigenous Survival

Cherokee of North Carolina, March 2013


On our fourth trip to Cherokee, North Carolina, Irma and I were glad to be back at Tsali Manor, the Cherokee Senior Center. We had 32 ladies sign up for our teaching sessions. Some were friends from the past, others were new to us. We began with Wrens and then moved on to owls - Screech Owls, Barred Owls and Great Horned Owls. Irma cut out the patterns and pieces as I taught the techniques and we learned once again of the many changes in Cherokee.

Stuffed Animal Display

The ladies told us all about the new school complex which had been finished with itʼs geo-thermal heating/cooling system and the three huge cisterns to catch rain water to flush toilets and provide for irrigation. The Cherokee Preservation Foundation had helped the tribe to transform an abandoned motel into a special immersion school for kindergarten through 5th grade where the Cherokee language is spoken at all times. This was done both to preserve the language and to ensure the existence of future language teachers for the school system.

Bessie and Varred Owl

The movie theater had been completed. The Childrenʼs and Womenʼs Health Center is operational. The Emergency Operations Center and the Transportation Building had been finished. Several residential housing units have been completed for tribal members. The Tourist Information Center is equipped with a windmill and two solar trees. There are also several solar panels and solar trees now among the tourist shops. The trees were designed by a firm out of Asheville, North Carolina.


The ladies said that the economic growth and development was all the result of Casino earnings. The Casino now has several major additions including a major hotel with gourmet restaurants. The tribe has managed all of this even though earnings have been affected by the economic recession. In 2012, each man, woman and child enrolled in the tribe received $6000 from Casino earnings.

As the month progressed, we came to truly appreciate the hard working ladies of the Cherokee and to see what one tribe has done to boost the economic level of itʼs community while they have the money. Good luck to the Cherokee.

Group Picture