FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

White Cherokee Mythology

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:
September 19, 2018
Bruce E. Levine
When Bernie Sold Out His Hero, Anti-Authoritarians Paid
Lawrence Davidson
Political Fragmentation on the Homefront
George Ochenski
How’s That “Chinese Hoax” Treating You, Mr. President?
Cesar Chelala
The Afghan Morass
Chris Wright
Three Cheers for the Decline of the Middle Class
Howard Lisnoff
The Beat Goes On Against Protest in Saudi Arabia
Nomi Prins 
The Donald in Wonderland: Down the Financial Rabbit Hole With Trump
Jack Rasmus
On the 10th Anniversary of Lehman Brothers 2008: Can ‘IT’ Happen Again?
Richard Schuberth
Make Them Suffer Too
Geoff Beckman
Kavanaugh in Extremis
Jonathan Engel
Rather Than Mining in Irreplaceable Wilderness, Why Can’t We Mine Landfills?
Binoy Kampmark
Needled Strawberries: Food Terrorism Down Under
Michael McCaffrey
A Curious Case of Mysterious Attacks, Microwave Weapons and Media Manipulation
Elliot Sperber
Eating the Constitution
September 18, 2018
Conn Hallinan
Britain: the Anti-Semitism Debate
Tamara Pearson
Why Mexico’s Next President is No Friend of Migrants
Richard Moser
Both the Commune and Revolution
Nick Pemberton
Serena 15, Tennis Love
Binoy Kampmark
Inconvenient Realities: Climate Change and the South Pacific
Martin Billheimer
La Grand’Route: Waiting for the Bus
John Kendall Hawkins
Seymour Hersh: a Life of Adversarial Democracy at Work
Faisal Khan
Is Israel a Democracy?
John Feffer
The GOP Wants Trumpism…Without Trump
Kim Ives
The Roots of Haiti’s Movement for PetroCaribe Transparency
Dave Lindorff
We Already Have a Fake Billionaire President; Why Would We want a Real One Running in 2020?
Gerry Brown
Is China Springing Debt Traps or Throwing a Lifeline to Countries in Distress?
Pete Tucker
The Washington Post Really Wants to Stop Ben Jealous
Dean Baker
Getting It Wrong Again: Consumer Spending and the Great Recession
September 17, 2018
Melvin Goodman
What is to be Done?
Rob Urie
American Fascism
Patrick Cockburn
The Adults in the White House Trying to Save the US From Trump Are Just as Dangerous as He Is
Jeffrey St. Clair - Alexander Cockburn
The Long Fall of Bob Woodward: From Nixon’s Nemesis to Cheney’s Savior
Mairead Maguire
Demonization of Russia in a New Cold War Era
Dean Baker
The Bank Bailout of 2008 was Unnecessary
Wim Laven
Hurricane Trump, Season 2
Yves Engler
Smearing Dimitri Lascaris
Ron Jacobs
From ROTC to Revolution and Beyond
Clark T. Scott
The Cannibals of Horsepower
Binoy Kampmark
A Traditional Right: Jimmie Åkesson and the Sweden Democrats
Laura Flanders
History Markers
Weekend Edition
September 14, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Carl Boggs
Obama’s Imperial Presidency
Joshua Frank
From CO2 to Methane, Trump’s Hurricane of Destruction
Jeffrey St. Clair
Maria’s Missing Dead
Andrew Levine
A Bulwark Against the Idiocy of Conservatives Like Brett Kavanaugh
T.J. Coles
Neil deGrasse Tyson: A Celebrity Salesman for the Military-Industrial-Complex
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail