Cherokee Nation Celebrates Release of Cherokee National Treasures Book

Cherokee National Treasure Richard Fields, a bow maker, signs his name in the book “Cherokee National Treasures in Their Own Words” for an attendee during a book release celebration April 13.

Published April 19, 2017


TAHLEQUAH More than 60 Cherokee National Treasures gathered recently for a dinner to celebrate the book release of “Cherokee National Treasures in Their Own Words.”

“Cherokee National Treasures in Their Own Words” gives readers an exclusive opportunity to get to know each Cherokee National Treasure through their own stories, and also what motivates them to teach and carry on Cherokee language and traditions.

The Cherokee National Treasure award was established in 1988 by the tribe and Cherokee National Historical Society. To date, the tribe has awarded 94 Cherokee Nation citizens the honor of Cherokee National Treasure to those who have shown exceptional knowledge of Cherokee art and culture. Those selected actively work to preserve and revive traditional cultural practices that are in danger of being lost from generation to generation.

As part of the book release celebration, each living Cherokee National Treasure and the family of Cherokee National Treasures who have since passed were presented a first edition copy of the book from Principal Chief Bill John Baker and Deputy Chief S. Joe Crittenden during a dinner April 13 at Sequoyah High School gym.

“This book is truly unique and offers readers a firsthand look at Cherokee heritage. All of these Treasures are invaluable sources of knowledge. Their creative expertise helps define our people today and ensures our tribal culture remains strong for the future,” said Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker.

Cherokee Nation published the book with Pamela Jumper Thurman and Cherokee National Treasure Shawna Morton Cain serving as editors. Cherokee National Treasures Kathryn Kelley, Betty Jo Smith, Lorene Drywater, Dorothy Ice, Al Herrin, Bessie Russell, Edith Catcher Knight, Thelma Vann Forrest, Durbin Feeling, Donald Vann and Betty Christie Frogg served on the Cherokee National Treasures Book Review Board.

“I feel very much honored, not only to be a Cherokee National Treasure for pottery, but to also be included in this wonderful, historical book of our Cherokee National Treasures’ stories,” said Cherokee Nation Tribal Council Deputy Speaker and Cherokee National Treasure Victoria Vazquez. “The second blessing for me is to be in the same book as my mother, Anna Mitchell. I only wish, probably like many other families, that mom was still alive to see this book, hold it and autograph it for her many fans.”

To purchase a copy of “Cherokee National Treasures in Their Own Words,” visit any Cherokee Nation Gift Shop Copies can also be purchased at most major book stores and online at


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