TAHLEQUAH, OK — Emcee Robert Lewis (Cherokee Nation/Navajo/Apache) announced the winners of the 2023 Cherokee National Holiday Art Show on Friday, Sept. 1, at the Chota Conference Center of the Cherokee Casino. Artists received their awards from newly crowned Junior Miss Cherokee Addison Rouse (Cherokee Nation) amid the sound of Cherokee hymns being sung in an adjoining room. It was a fitting start to the nation’s popular Cherokee National Holiday weekend, which features a wide variety of cultural and artistic activities.
Best of Show:
Let’s Picnic at the Holiday, Vivian Cottrell
Vivian Cottrell (Cherokee Nation) received Best of Show for Let’s Picnic at the Holiday. a basket woven with layers of personal meaning.
“I wanted to weave a piece that reminded me of the holidays of the past when we used to go with my mother and all our family,” she says. “We would prepare a picnic at the Murrell Home [now Hunter’s Home]creek and lay it out, and it was a nice time to get together. When I was weaving, that’s what I thought of.”
Cottrell is a fourth-generation basketmaker who sources her materials from her local community. She was named a Cherokee National Treasure at the Holiday in 1995. Known for rivercane baskets, she also works with pounded black ash. Let’s Picnic at the Holiday is made of pounded black ash with commercial dye and a white oak handle that came to her from the Cherokee homelands.
“Normally, I prepare all my weaving materials, but last year I didn’t have time to get my tree down and get the handles made,” she said. “Lambert Wilson, a dear friend from Cherokee, North Carolina, came by. He handed me this handle that was already made, and he said, ‘Here, now make the basket.’ So using that handle was very special to me.”
Wilson died tragically in 2022. He owned Queen House Gallery and served on the board of the Museum of the Cherokee Indian in North Carolina.
Weaving white oak from the Cherokee homelands with black ash from the current home of the Cherokee Nation was meaningful for Cottrell. She was also proud to have her granddaughter, a young basket maker, watching as she worked on the basket. Like many artists in the holiday show, Cottrell mentors the next generation of Cherokee artists.
Chief’s Choice, Youth Division:
5th Generation (Ageyutsa Gvdi), Kinsley Plumb
Kinsley Plumb (Cherokee Nation) received the Chief’s Choice award in the Youth Division for her piece, 5th Generation Ageyutsa Gvdi. She also received second place in her age group (9-14 years) for Cozy. Her brother, Beckett, won first in his age group (1-8 years) and the Speaker’s Choice Award (Youth Division) for his weaving 5th Generation Atsutsa Gvdi. They also each sold a piece. Pretty good for two young weavers sharing work in their first show!
Kinsley and Beckett are fifth-generation Oak Hill loom weavers. They learn from their grandmother, Cathy Abercrombie (Cherokee Nation), whose Peacock Strut won first place in textiles. Abercrombie learned from her grandmother, Pearl Abercrombie, who was president of the Oak Hill Indian Weavers Hall near Jay, Oklahoma. The hall was one of several weaving workshops that the Cherokee Nation established in the 1930s.
“Teaching the next generation of weavers is all I’ve ever wanted to do,” says Abercrombie. “My granny taught me, and my aunt and my dad, so I’m the third generation. My boys were the only documented fourth-generation Cherokee loom weavers, and now I’ve got grandkids who are the fifth. This is their first show, and I think I’m more excited than they are. I may have cried a little bit when they won.”
The Cherokee National Holiday Art Show is open through Sunday, Sept. 3 at the Chota Conference Center in the Cherokee Casino.
For a full list of art show winners and a schedule of Holiday events, visit thecherokeeholiday.com.
Editor’s Note: Unfortunately errors occurred in the recording and reporting of the prizes in the 2023 Cherokee National Holiday Art Show; however, the prizes mentioned in this article are correct.