Cherokee artists Bill and Demos Glass stand in front of the recently installed prayer feather sculpture at Redbird Health Center in Sallisaw, Oklahoma.
Artists install prayer feather sculpture at A-Mo and Redbird Smith health centers
SALLISAW, OKLAHOMA – Cherokee Nation officials are using cultural art to provide a sense of comfort for health care patients and their families. The tribe is adding prayer feather sculptures to the landscape of two of its health facilities.
Cherokee artists Bill Glass and Demos Glass placed the first of the culturally significant sculptures at the A-Mo Health Center in Salina. Recently, a second sculpture was installed at the Redbird Smith Health Center in Sallisaw.
“As Cherokee citizens are undergoing health care, displaying this important part of our culture may bring a sense of peace to what they are experiencing. Feathers symbolize strength and are key instruments in traditional Cherokee medicine and healing,” said Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker. “I am proud that along with world-class health care, our centers are showcasing Cherokee culture and world-class Cherokee artisans like the Glass family.”
Cherokee culture considers the feather a source of pride. Tribal officials are hopeful the sculptures will give patients and their families a sense of calmness as they enter health centers.
“Our first priority is to better the lives of our citizens by continuing to provide them with excellent health care,” said Connie Davis, executive director of Cherokee Nation Health Services. “We are excited to include these beautiful pieces as part of providing an overall positive experience for our patients.”
The tribe is also planning to emplace a third prayer feather at Sequoyah Schools.
The hand-constructed, stainless steel sculptures stand more than 8 feet tall. Each sculpture features a unique base. The ceramic base at the A-Mo Health Center represents the creator’s world above and the four logs of the stomp dance fire on earth.
Funding to procure the prayer feather sculptures was set aside through various renovation and new construction projects. In accordance with Cherokee Nation law, when the price of a renovation or new construction project exceeds $500,000, 1 percent of the cost is set aside for procurement of Cherokee art.
Cherokee Nation operates the largest tribal health system in the United States, which consists of eight health centers throughout the Cherokee Nation and W.W. Hastings Hospital in Tahlequah.