WCU Craft Revival Project receives funding to document Cherokee pottery

The Cherokee Preservation Foundation recently awarded $87,700 to Western Carolina University’s Craft Revival Project to continue the university’s Cherokee crafts documentation project.

Following its initial year, which explored Cherokee baskets and basket makers, the second year of the project will focus on Cherokee potters and pottery during the first part of the 20th century. The project includes research on handcrafts made by tribal elders at the Museum of the Cherokee Indian and Qualla Arts and Crafts Mutual.

The project’s primary goals are to provide documentation of early 20th-century Cherokee pottery, disseminate new educational information, build an online database of images and develop lesson plans to promote a better understanding of the role and impact of Cherokee crafts in Western North Carolina.

With the funding, the project staff will create a museum-level inventory system of the permanent collection at Qualla Arts and Crafts, photograph pottery in the collections, scan historic photographs of potters and pottery, and create individual records for each item photographed and scanned. In addition, the project staff will document the lives of the potter elders. The project plan also includes printing copies of a guidebook on Cherokee pottery. The guidebook follows one on Cherokee baskets and is second in the “From the Hands of Our Elders” series.

“The project will build upon the success of a current collaboration with Qualla Arts and Crafts Mutual and the Museum of the Cherokee Indian,” said Anna Fariello, Craft Revival project director and associate professor at WCU’s Hunter Library, where the project is housed. “Hunter Library is sharing its knowledge of digitization, professional cataloging and national archival standards. The Cherokee are sharing their rich cultural collections as a means to inform the region of the value of its craft heritage.”

The work of this project takes place on-site at both partner institutions, where Hunter Library has set up workstations. The documentation not only involves the two key Cherokee organizations, but also will include interviews with craftsmen who learned their skills from the elders, said Fariello.

For more information about the project, contact Fariello by telephone at (828) 227-2499 or via e-mail at fariello@wcu.edu.