Hunter Library at Western Carolina University, along with the Museum of the Cherokee Indian and Qualla Arts and Crafts Mutual Inc., received the Outstanding Project Award from the Association of Tribal Archives, Libraries and Museums on June 11 at the organization’s annual conference in Santa Fe, N.M.
Anna Fariello, associate research professor and director of the library’s digital initiatives program, accepted the award on behalf of the library and described the winning project, “From the Hands of Our Elders,” to conference attendees.
“It’s a collaborative project, focused on documenting and preserving the rich material culture and archival holdings of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians,” Fariello said. “The multiyear effort began in 2007 with a collaboration between Hunter Library at Western Carolina University and two of Cherokee’s key collecting institutions: the Museum of the Cherokee Indian and Qualla Arts and Crafts Mutual. With support from WCU, the State Library of North Carolina and the Cherokee Preservation Foundation, Hunter Library embarked on a project to document, interpret, preserve and present Cherokee material culture.”
As part of this project, three books and a website were produced by the library and its partners to share important archival collections with Eastern Band members and the general public. In 2009, “Cherokee Basketry: From the Hands of Our Elders” was published by The History Press, followed by “Cherokee Pottery” in 2011 and “Cherokee Carving” in 2013. Each book provides an overview of the craft, its history and processes. Together, the “From the Hands of Our Elders” books detail the biographies of 31 individual 20th-century artisans whose stories are told through historic documents, records and recollections found in archives of collected indigenous materials.
Many of the pictorial biographies can be seen online at the “From the Hands of Our Elders” website (www.wcu.edu/library/DigitalCollections/CherokeeTraditions). Fariello is currently working with WCU’s Cherokee Language Program to add recordings of native speakers to the site.
A former research fellow at the Smithsonian Museum of American Art, Fariello has 20 years of experience in the fields of higher education and museums. She was the curator for “Huichol Tablas,” an exhibition on the work of indigenous peoples of Mexico, and is working on an exhibition for the Eastern Band of the Cherokee. She serves as a museology specialist for the U.S. Fulbright Commission and on the board of the World Craft Council. In 2010, she was the recipient of the Brown Hudson Award from the North Carolina Folklore Society.
The Outstanding Project Award was part of a series of recognitions in the ATALM’s 2013 Guardians of Culture and Lifeways International Awards Program, established in 2007 to recognize organizations and individuals who serve as outstanding examples of how indigenous archives, libraries and museums contribute to the vitality and cultural sovereignty of Native nations.
For more information about the 2013 awards from the ATALM, see the organization’s website at www.atalm.org. To learn more about Hunter Library online, view library.wcu.edu. The Qualla Arts and Crafts Mutual Inc. website is found at http://quallaartsandcrafts.com, and the online presence for the Museum of the Cherokee Indian is www.cherokeemuseum.org.