FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

White Cherokee Mythology

by J. MURRAY

On Saturday, Nov. 1 I attended the ‘Masters Art Show’ at the Five Civilized Tribes Museum in Muskogee. Before the awards presentation each artist stood before her/his artwork and made a few remarks about the artwork they were presenting. Virginia Stroud explained her painting, ‘The Boat People,’ which represents a group of southern Cherokee refugees arriving at Ross Landing in Indian Territory circa 1839. In the painting the Cherokees are exiting a steamboat with their “negro” slaves under the watchful eye of U.S. Army troops.

Stroud went on to tell the story of how she had shown the painting to a Cherokee Nation art-buyer in hope of selling it to “The Nation,” for display at one of their casinos. The art-buyer then told Stroud that the painting could not be displayed at a Cherokee Nation casino since black slaves were being represented. Not willing to let historicity stand in the way of selling a 6200 painting Stroud said she removed the black figures and again submitted it. Again it was rejected and so Stroud re-inserted the black figures and entered the painting in the ‘Masters Art Show.’

Aware as I am of the social and ethnic complexities of the late-capital Cherokee Nation I was still amazed that a master artist would tell such a story to a room full of people.

Such a story tells a lot about american history, the south, and eastern Oklahoma. It shows how the Cherokee Nation has internalized southern racial coding and their own version of white supremacy. It was amazing, but not at all surprising.

Of course, a legalistic corporate entity such as the Cherokee Nation can buy or not buy any art it wants. But to tell an artist that their art can only be purchased if it excludeds the representation of black people is a bit, shall we say – outre’ for 2008. And then the plot thickens, as even an artist of the stature of Stroud, who prides herself on historical accuracy, was by her own admission willing to make her painting ahistorical – if the price was right.

Because contary to white Cherokee mythology black slaves did accompany their Cherokee masters to Indian Territory. That’s common knowledge to 19th century history buffs, but it is common knowledge that cannot be admitted in the corporate offices of the Cherokee Nation.

Overall a pattern emerges- artists and writers with Cherokee Nation CDIB (Certificate of Degree of Indian Blood) cards will be rewarded financially if their work conforms to the white Cherokee mythology. Artists and writers without CDIB cards or those who insist on historical accuracy will recieve nothing. That’s 21st century racial hierarchy – Cherokee Nation style.

Then to compound the irony – Stroud’s ‘The Boat People’ won best in show. Personally I found the painting interesting but unremarkable. I thought the judges had made a “political decision.” We are, after all, still fighting the Civil War out here.

J. MURRAY lives in Oklahoma.

 

 

More articles by:
Weekend Edition
February 16, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Jeffrey St. Clair
American Carnage
Paul Street
Michael Wolff, Class Rule, and the Madness of King Don
Andrew Levine
Had Hillary Won: What Now?
David Rosen
Donald Trump’s Pathetic Sex Life
Susan Roberts
Are Modern Cities Sustainable?
Joyce Nelson
Canada vs. Venezuela: Have the Koch Brothers Captured Canada’s Left?
Geoff Dutton
America Loves Islamic Terrorists (Abroad): ISIS as Proxy US Mercenaries
Mike Whitney
The Obnoxious Pence Shows Why Korea Must End US Occupation
Joseph Natoli
In the Post-Truth Classroom
John Eskow
One More Slaughter, One More Piece of Evidence: Racism is a Terminal Mental Disease
John W. Whitehead
War Spending Will Bankrupt America
Dave Lindorff
Trump’s Latest Insulting Proposal: Converting SNAP into a Canned Goods Distribution Program
Robert Fantina
Guns, Violence and the United States
Robert Hunziker
Global Warming Zaps Oxygen
John Laforge
$1.74 Trillion for H-bomb Profiteers and “Fake” Cleanups
CJ Hopkins
The War on Dissent: the Specter of Divisiveness
Peter A. Coclanis
Chipotle Bell
Anders Sandström – Joona-Hermanni Mäkinen
Ways Forward for the Left
Wilfred Burchett
Vietnam Will Win: Winning Hearts and Minds
Tommy Raskin
Syrian Quicksand
Martha Rosenberg
Big Pharma Still Tries to Push Dangerous Drug Class
Jill Richardson
The Attorney General Thinks Aspirin Helps Severe Pain – He’s Wrong
Mike Miller
Herb March: a Legend Deserved
Ann Garrison
If the Democrats Were Decent
Renee Parsons
The Times, They are a-Changing
Howard Gregory
The Democrats Must Campaign to End Trickle-Down Economics
Sean Keller
Agriculture and Autonomy in the Middle East
Ron Jacobs
Re-Visiting Gonzo
Eileen Appelbaum
Rapid Job Growth, More Education Fail to Translate into Higher Wages for Health Care Workers
Ralph Nader
Shernoff, Bidart, and Echeverria—Wide-Ranging Lawyers for the People
Chris Zinda
The Meaning of Virginia Park
Robert Koehler
War and Poverty: A Compromise with Hell
Mike Bader – Mike Garrity
Senator Tester Must Stop Playing Politics With Public Lands
Kenneth Culton
No Time for Olympic Inspired Nationalism
Graham Peebles
Ethiopia: Final Days of the Regime
Irene Tung – Teófilo Reyes
Tips are for Servers Not CEOs
Randy Shields
Yahoomans in Paradise – This is L.A. to Me
Thomas Knapp
No Huawei! US Spy Chiefs Reverse Course on Phone Spying
Mel Gurtov
Was There Really a Breakthrough in US-North Korea Relations?
David Swanson
Witness Out of Palestine
Binoy Kampmark
George Brandis, the Rule of Law and Populism
Dean Baker
The Washington Post’s Long-Running Attack on Unions
Andrew Stewart
Providence Public School Teachers Fight Back at City Hall
Stephen Cooper
Majestic Meditations with Jesse Royal: the Interview
David Yearsley
Olympic Music
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail