Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker speaks at the 2017 Cherokee National Holiday awards banquet. The tribe annually recognizes its citizens who make significant contributions for culture, statesmanship, patriotism, community leadership and devotion to the Cherokee Nation.
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Four Cherokee Nation citizens will receive the distinction of Cherokee National Treasure during the 66th Annual Cherokee National Holiday Awards Banquet later this month.
Cherokee National Treasure is an honor given by the tribe to individuals who are keeping the art, language and culture alive through their crafts and work.
Loretta Shade, of Hulbert; Troy Jackson, of Tahlequah; and Lisa Rutherford, of Tahlequah, were selected as this year’s recipients as well as Annie Wildcat, of Park Hill, who was selected to receive the award posthumously.
“The distinction of Cherokee National Treasure is an honor reserved for individuals who dedicate themselves to the preservation of Cherokee language, art and culture,” Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker said. “This year’s four recipients have truly set themselves apart for their commitment, and we are proud to recognize their lifelong efforts to educate the public about our Cherokee traditions. Their commitment to the conservation of Cherokee heritage will positively impact our future generations.”
Shade, widow of former Deputy Principal Chief Hastings Shade, was selected for her contributions to preserving the Cherokee language. As a first-language speaker, Shade dedicated more than 30 years of her career to teaching the Cherokee language and culture. Now, she is working to translate the Oklahoma Pass Objectives for the Cherokee Nation Immersion School, while also working to develop a variety of Cherokee teaching materials. Shade is a certified Cherokee language teacher by both the Cherokee Nation and the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokees.
Jackson received the distinction for clay pottery and sculpture. Jackson is a well-established artist that has received several awards for both clay and steel sculptures, including 17 grand prizes, “Best of Classification” and “Best of Division” from the Santa Fe Art Market. As a former instructor of art at the University of Arkansas, Northeastern State University and Bacone College, he has also dedicated much of his time to sharing his culture with others. Jackson is also well-known for his volunteerism and leadership in the artist community, serving as president of the Tahlequah Art Guild and the Cherokee Artists Association, and most recently serving on the advisory board for the Cherokee Art Center.
Rutherford was nominated for her contributions to Cherokee pottery. Rutherford shares her passion for 18th and early 19th century Cherokee art and history and originally created her traditional pottery from clay that she would dig, hand coil and pit fire. Her interest in history and art led to a career as a living history interpreter, which allows her to share her culture and art with hundreds of visitors per year at Hunter’s Home, formerly known as the George M. Murrell Home in Tahlequah. In addition to pottery, Rutherford also enjoys creating 18th century clothing and accessories including warp skirts, beadwork and historic feather capes.
Wildcat was posthumously recognized for her passion for traditional clay bead necklaces. Wildcat is a first-language Cherokee speaker who spent 23 years creating and sharing the art of traditional clay bead necklaces, jewelry and baskets. Throughout her life, Wildcat traveled to local schools and festivals where she promoted her art and culture, resulting in her necklaces selling across the country and world, including Sweden, South America, Germany, Australia, Canada and France. Wildcat also appeared in the award-winning documentary “Cherokee National Treasure” and had one of her clay bead necklaces featured on the cover of Oklahoma Magazine.
The Cherokee Nation will also honor tribal citizens and organizations that made significant contributions for statesmanship, patriotism, community leadership and devotion to the Cherokee Nation at the 66th Annual Cherokee National Holiday Awards Banquet.
Award recipients will be recognized during the special ceremony held on Aug. 30 and include:
Dr. Ricky Robinson
Community Leadership Award –Individual
Community Leadership Award – Organization
Cherokee Indian Baptist Choir
Brushy Cherokee Community Center
Oakhill-Piney Community Organization
Mid-County Community Organization
Cherokee Citizens League of Southeast Texas
Jack and Betty Kingfisher Family
Samuel Worchester Award for devotion to Cherokee Nation
Dr. Bob Blackburn
Governor David Walters
For photos and video of the 66th Annual Cherokee National Holiday Awards Banquet on Aug. 30, follow Cherokee Nation on Facebook and Twitter.
Cherokee Nation News Release
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