TAHLEQUAH, Okla. — Three Cherokee Nation citizens have been named this year's Cherokee National Treasures for their work in preserving and promoting Cherokee art and culture. The Cherokee Nation Treasure status is an honor presented by the tribe to individuals who are keeping the art, language and culture alive through their crafts and work.
Danny McCarter, of Tahlequah; Cathy Abercrombie, of Jay; and Harry Oosahwee, of Tahlequah, were selected as the 2021 recipients and were honored during a virtual awards ceremony Thursday evening as part of the 69th annual Cherokee National Holiday celebration.
“The core of our identity as Cherokee people is Cherokee language, culture and heritage,” Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. said. “That’s why we are proud to honor the lifelong efforts of these three Cherokees. Each of them has excelled at promoting, as well as educating, the public about our Cherokee traditions, language and culture. Their work has furthered our culture to so many not just in our area, but across the globe as well. We are fortunate to have such outstanding ambassadors committed to keeping our Cherokee identity alive.”
Danny McCarter is a blowgun and blowgun-dart maker. McCarter has an extensive knowledge of blowgun making. The history of its use was handed down to him by his brother in the 1980s at the Ancient Village at the Cherokee Heritage Center in Park Hill. McCarter has worked at the Cherokee Heritage Center in Diligwa as a villager, tour guide, and historic interpreter. He still shares his wisdom of Cherokee history and culture at the Cherokee National History Museum in Tahlequah.
Cathy Abercrombie is a third-generation Cherokee loom weaver. She wove her first set of place mats at age 8. She developed her craft with help from her grandmother, Pearl Abercrombie. Abercrombie’s talent is documenting, replicating, and preserving original Cherokee designs using historically accurate yarns for each decade. She also creates modern textiles with unique designs. Her children are also award-winning, fourth-generation weavers. Abercrombie’s grandchildren are continuing the tradition on antique looms as well.
Harry Oosahwee is a self-taught artist and stone carver. He devotes much of his time to researching his proud Cherokee heritage. Oosahwee strives to accurately portray his tribal traditions and customs through the symbolism featured throughout his paintings and stone carvings. He has an extensive number of awards for his craftmanship. Most of Oosahwee’s work can be found in private collections throughout the United States and abroad.
More than 100 Cherokees have been recognized as National Treasures by the Cherokee Nation since the late 1980s.