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Cherokee Arts Center Sets Up Historic Loom

02/17/2012
February 17, 2012
(l to r) Candessa Teehee, Ryan Lee Smith, Dorothy Ice and Katie Penland. Loom students and workers from the Cherokee Arts Center help Cherokee National Treasure Dorothy Ice assemble an antique loom on loan from the Cherokee Heritage Center.
(l to r) Candessa Teehee, Ryan Lee Smith, Dorothy Ice and Katie Penland. Loom students and workers from the Cherokee Arts Center help Cherokee National Treasure Dorothy Ice assemble an antique loom on loan from the Cherokee Heritage Center.

TAHLEQUAH, Okla. — The Cherokee Nation recently set up an historic loom at the tribe’s art center in Tahlequah, 212 S. Water St. Cherokee National Treasure Dorothy Ice will be offering lessons on the loom, which was originally used in the Sequoyah Indian Weavers Association.

The Sequoyah Indian Weavers Association was formed in 1938 at the Sequoyah Indian School. Funded by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, William Ames traveled to Tahlequah to teach Cherokees the art of loom weaving. The BIA used the program to promote the production and sale of American Indian arts and crafts. In 1954 federal funding was cut and interest waned. The association no longer exists but the last remaining weavers are making an effort to preserve the craft in Cherokee culture.

Ice said she originally began weaving more than 60 years ago with the Sequoyah Indian Weavers Association when she was 15. She was designated a Cherokee National Treasure in 1991 by the Cherokee Nation for her extensive knowledge of weaving and for sharing her expertise with others to keep the art alive.

“I am the last [weaver] that is still moving and I figured that if we were going to keep it alive I better do something,” said Ice. “I want to pass it on because it’s dying. When I’m gone, it’s gone.”

The 45 inch loom, on loan from the Cherokee Heritage Center, is capable of making small blankets, shawls, wall hangings, placemats, belts and scarves. The loom is estimated to be between 60 and 70 years old and was one of a few brought to the heritage center for storage in the late 1960s.

The Cherokee Arts Center offers classes in traditional Cherokee arts and crafts, including loom weaving. For a list of upcoming classes or for more information, contact Valerie Diffee at 918-453-5728.

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