Cherokee Nation Honors Two Citizens for Keeping Tribe’s Art & Culture Alive

Junior Miss Cherokee Danya Pigeon, Cherokee Nation Deputy Chief S. Joe Crittenden, 2017 Cherokee National Treasure Mike Dart, Principal Chief Bill John Baker and Miss Cherokee Madison Whitekiller.

Published September 8, 2017

TAHLEQUAH —  Two Cherokee Nation citizens were recently named Cherokee National Treasures, an honor given by the tribe for keeping Cherokee art and culture alive.

Mike Dart, of Stilwell, and Jesse Hummingbird, of Phoenix, received a Cherokee National Treasure medal and plaque from Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker and Deputy Chief S. Joe Crittenden at the 65th Annual Cherokee National Holiday awards banquet hosted at Sequoyah High School last week.

“Cherokee National Treasures preserve and advance critical elements of our tribal culture. We will always honor these men and women because they ensure unique Cherokee knowledge is conserved for future generations,” Chief Baker said. “Mike and Jesse absolutely deserve this special honor, along with our deepest respect for their expertise in their respective art disciplines.”

Dart received the honor of Cherokee National Treasure for his ability to produce Southeast baskets from traditional materials. At age 16, Dart began weaving traditional honeysuckle, buckbrush and wood splint baskets. Largely self-taught, Dart works to preserve and share the basketry tradition with fellow Cherokees. In 2016, he exhibited a replica of a large traditional burden basket, woven of hand-split oak and hickory, at the Chickasaw Nation Artesian Art Market. The piece was awarded best of show and featured in the book “Oklahoma Cherokee Baskets.”

Junior Miss Cherokee Danya Pigeon, Cherokee Nation Deputy Chief S. Joe Crittenden, 2017 Cherokee National Treasure Jesse Hummingbird, Principal Chief Bill John Baker and Miss Cherokee Madison Whitekiller.

A painter, graphic artist and commercial illustrator, Hummingbird received the honor of Cherokee National Treasure for working to keep traditional Cherokee art alive. Born in Tahlequah, Hummingbird later attended high school in Nashville, Tennessee. He refined his skills as an artist within programs in a wide variety of institutions, including the American Academy of Art in Chicago. Hummingbird became a full-time artist in 1983. His paintings depict Cherokee and wider Native American themes. He also produces mixed-media masks, giclée reproductions and children’s book illustrations. Among other accomplishments, Hummingbird’s work won a fellowship award from the SWAIA Indian Market.

The Cherokee Nation also honored tribal citizens and organizations that made significant contributions for statesmanship, patriotism, community leadership and devotion to the Cherokee Nation.

Statesman Award

  • Julie Eddy Rokala
  • Todd Hembree
  • Becky Hobbs
  • Chuck Hoskin
  • Angela Jones
  • Jack Nelson Kingfisher (posthumously)

Patriotism Award

  • Shannon Buhl
  • Tim Carter
  • Leah Duncan
  • Joe Rainwater
  • Crosslin Fields Smith
  • Curtis Snell
  • Joe Thornton

Community Leadership Award – Individual

  • Ryan Dirteater
  • Roberta Springwater Gibson
  • David Hampton
  • Regina Ross Trainor
  • Debra West

Community Leadership Award – Organization

  • Cherokees of New Mexico
  • Cherokee Cornstalk Shooters Society
  • Cherokee National Youth Choir
  • Cherokee Medicine Keepers
  • Remember the Removal Bike Ride

Samuel Worcester Award for devotion to Cherokee Nation

  • Dr. James Lewis
  • Shawn Slaton

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