Published September 6, 2016
TAHLEQUAH, OKLAHOMA — Three Cherokee Nation citizens were named Thursday as 2016 National Treasures, an honor given by the tribe for keeping Cherokee art and culture alive.
Master bowyer Richard Fields, of Tahlequah; metalsmith artist Demos Glass, of Locust Grove; and traditional flint knap artist Vyrl Keeter, of Muskogee, received a Cherokee National Treasure medal and plaque from Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker and Deputy Chief S. Joe Crittenden at the 64th Annual Cherokee National Holiday awards banquet hosted at Sequoyah High School.
“Cherokee National Treasures perpetuate and preserve our culture and the values we hold so deeply as tribal citizens. They should be recognized and honored for passing on their art, ability and knowledge to younger generations,” Chief Baker said. “Demos, Richard and Vyrl deserve this special accolade, along with our deepest respect and gratitude for sharing the Cherokee spirit in their respective disciplines.”
Fields has more than 20 years of experience crafting traditional Cherokee long bows. He uses his bowmaking skills as a way to share Cherokee history and culture with others. Fields offers demonstrations to schools and teaches bowmaking classes at the Spider Art Gallery in Tahlequah. A fluent Cherokee speaker, Fields is a charter member of the Cherokee Cornstalk Society and oversees the cornstalk shoot competition during the Cherokee National Holiday.
Glass graduated from Locust Grove High School and attended Southern Illinois University where he studied fine arts. His knowledge and interest in contemporary art have been greatly influenced by his grandfather, Bill Glass, a jeweler, and his father, Cherokee National Treasure Bill Glass Jr., a ceramist. With more than 20 years of experience in contemporary, mixed media and metalsmithing arts, Glass has won numerous first place and best of show awards for his work. He has previously served as a judge for the Miss Cherokee Leadership Competition and designed and created the crown for the 2015-16 competition.
Keeter was raised in the Stoney Point community in Adair County and is a fluent Cherokee speaker. A retired educator, Keeter graduated from Stilwell High School and received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Northeastern State University. As a child, he became fascinated with the traditional art of flint knapping. Keeter has received many honors for his flint knapping skills, and for the past 40 years he has taught others the traditional art of flint knapping. Keeter has held demonstrations at the Cherokee National Holiday and weekly flint knapping classes at his home in Muskogee.
The Cherokee Nation also honored tribal citizens and organizations that made significant contributions for statesmanship, patriotism, community leadership and devotion to the Cherokee Nation.
• Sara Hill
• Dianne Barker Harrold
• Chuck Hoskin Jr.
• Cory Williams
• Dewey Alberty
• Joshua Wheeler
• S. Joe Crittenden
• Kimberlee Christian
Community Leadership Award – Individual
• Amos Teehee
• Fan Robinson
• Mark Downing
• Charles Grim
• Connie Davis
• Joseph Erb
• Susie Ann Thompson
• Jerry Taylor
Community Leadership Award – Organization
• Cherokee Marble Society
• Capital City Cherokee Community
• Adair County Historical and Genealogical Association
• No-We-Ta Cherokee Community Foundation
Samuel Worcester Award for devotion to Cherokee Nation
• Neil Morton
• Londa Cox
• Brett Riggs