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News Release

Cherokee Heritage Center

Join the celebration of Cherokee women by visiting a new exhibit at the Cherokee Heritage Center.

“Earth Shakers: The Influence of Cherokee Women” showcases the impact of Cherokee women throughout time in aspects such as education, history, language, arts, and politics. 

The exhibit opens to the public on May 11 and runs through August 3.

“People of all ages will find inspiration in this exhibit and take with them a better understanding of the value and power of Cherokee women,” said Dr. Charles Gourd, executive director of Cherokee Heritage Center. “From marching for women’s suffrage in the United States’ capital to helping design spacecraft, these Cherokee women are nothing short of influential.”

“Earth Shakers: The Influence of Cherokee Women” explores an extensive list of notable Cherokee women and their accomplishments through written narratives, art and artifacts to demonstrate how Cherokee women have helped shape not only Cherokee life and society, but also American history.

An opening reception will be held on Friday, May 10, from 6-8 p.m. It is open to the public and free to attend.

Throughout the exhibit, visitors will learn about the successes of Cherokee women, including their impactful leadership efforts showcased through features on Wilma Mankiller, the first female Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation, and Joyce Dugan, the first female Principal Chief of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians.

Outside of tribal politics, Cherokee women have taken the role of American activist, bringing the Cherokee values of equity among genders and environmental protection into the public space by women such as Pamela Kingfisher, who advocates for indigenous women’s rights and clean food and water, and Jessie Deer in Water, founder of Native Americans for a Clean Environment.

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Visitors will also learn about the first known Native American woman to become a photographer, an aerospace engineer and so much more. Practices like pottery, basketry, weavings and sewing that were once utilitarian have been passed down through generations of Cherokee women and have evolved into art forms. These arts are a staple to preserving, promoting and teaching Cherokee history and culture. 

“Earth Shakers: The Influence of Cherokee Women” was co-curated by Callie Chunestudy and America Meredith. 

The exhibit was created as a complementary response to the national Native women’s art exhibition “Hearts of Our People: Native Women Artists,” which will debut at the Minneapolis Institute of Art in June 2019 and travel to the Philbrook Museum in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in the summer of 2020. 

Meredith also serves on the advisory council for the “Hearts of Our People” exhibit and said many of the members felt compelled to create similar exhibitions that were tribally specific.

“For us, that meant including perspectives from all three federally recognized Cherokee tribes and extending the scope to all areas of life,” Meredith said. “Our exhibition is not just an art show; it is a celebration of Cherokee women’s accomplishments in mathematics, sciences, health care, politics, and humanities. It is an appreciation of those who have come before us and an inspiration for the generations that are to come.”

The exhibit is funded in part by Cherokee Nation Businesses and the Oklahoma Humanities Council. 

The Cherokee Heritage Center is the premier cultural center for Cherokee history, culture, and the arts. It is located at 21192 S. Keeler Drive, Park Hill.

About Cherokee Heritage Center

The Cherokee Heritage Center, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, is the premier cultural center for Cherokee history, culture, and the arts. Located in the heart of the Cherokee Nation in Park Hill, Oklahoma, it was established in 1963 by the Cherokee National Historical Society to preserve, promote and teach Cherokee history and culture. 

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