Qualla Arts and Crafts Mutual | NC Weekend | UNC-TV

Qualla Arts and Crafts Mutual | NC Weekend | UNC-TV


>>Deborah: WHEN THE GREAT SMOKY
MOUNTAINS NATIONAL PARK OPENED AND HIGHWAYS WERE BUILT THROUGH
THE MOUNTAINS OF NORTH CAROLINA, THE CHEROKEE PEOPLE FINALLY HAD
A MARKET FOR THEIR TRADITIONAL ARTS AND CRAFTS. A FEW YEARS LATER, THEY CREATED
THE QUALLA ARTS AND CRAFTS MUTUAL, AND FOR 70 YEARS, THIS
CO-OP HAS HELPED KEEP THE TRADITIONS AND THE SPIRIT
OF THE CHEROKEE ALIVE. [DRUMS BEATING]>>CHEROKEE HAS BECOME A
DESTINATION FOR A LOT OF PEOPLE BECAUSE WE’RE UP HERE IN THE
MOUNTAINS RIGHT NEXT DOOR TO THE GREAT SMOKY MOUNTAINS NATIONAL
PARK, WHICH IS THE MOST VISITED PARK IN THE COUNTRY.>>WHEN I WOKE UP THIS MORNING,
I WAS NEAR A BROOK IN THE COLORFUL WOODS WITH THE TREES
OF ALL DIFFERENT COLORS. AND THE SUN WAS SHINING. AND IT JUST FELT LIKE A
SLICE OF HEAVEN HERE.>>Reporter: PEOPLE HAVE COME TO
ENJOY THESE THINGS ABOUT CHEROKEE SINCE THE AREA FIRST
BEGAN ATTRACTING TOURISTS IN THE 1940s. FOR GENERATIONS BEFORE THAT AND
ALL THOSE SINCE, HOWEVER, IT HAS BEEN HOME TO THE PROUD NATION
OF CHEROKEE PEOPLE AND THEIR MANY TRADITIONS.>>MOST EVERY HOUSE SEEMS TO
HAVE AN ARTIST OR SOMEONE THAT DOES SOME TYPE OF TRADITIONAL
ART OR SINGING OR DANCING OR SOMETHING THAT GOES
ALONG WITH THAT LINE.>>Reporter: IT’S NO SURPRISE
THEN THAT THE TOWN OF CHEROKEE IS HOME TO A ONE-OF-A-KIND
COLLECTION OF NATIVE AMERICAN ARTS AND CRAFTS.>>IT ALMOST FEELS LIKE A
MUSEUM WITH EVERYTHING FOR SALE, YOU KNOW. THE QUALITY OF THE
WORK IS TOP-NOTCH. THE FEEL YOU GET WHEN YOU WALK
IN THERE IS THAT YOU’RE IN THE MIDDLE OF CHEROKEE. YOU KNOW, THE PEOPLE THAT MADE
THESE, YOU CAN ALMOST FEEL THEM STANDING THERE AND ALMOST SEE
THEM SITTING THERE WORKING ON THEIR PROJECTS.>>THIS IS AS AUTHENTIC AS
IT’S GOING TO GET AS FAR AS CHEROKEE ART.>>YEAH, BECAUSE THESE WERE USED
A LONG TIME AGO FOR STORAGE, BUILDING THEIR HOMES WITH.>>Reporter: IT’S CALLED THE
QUALLA ARTS AND CRAFTS MUTUAL.>>QUALLA IS HOW YOU
WOULD SAY THE NAME POLLY IN THE CHEROKEE LANGUAGE. AND IT WAS A WOMAN THAT WAS
WELL-LIKED WITHIN THE COMMUNITY. I THINK SHE HAD A STORE
OR POST OFFICE.>>Reporter: THE COOPERATIVE
NAMED AFTER HER REPRESENTS THE WORK OF MORE THAN 250 ARTISANS.>>QUALLA ARTS AND CRAFTS IS THE
OLDEST NATIVE AMERICAN COOPERATIVE IN THE UNITED
STATES, AND HAS BEEN A SOURCE OF INCOME FOR THE LOCAL ARTISTS
SINCE IT WAS ESTABLISHED AND REALLY HAS HELPED US AS PEOPLE
TO SUPPLEMENT OUR INCOME. AND AT THE SAME TIME, IT HAS
HELPED US PRESERVE OUR TRADITIONS IN THE ARTS
BY AFFORDING US A PLACE TO MARKET OUR WORK.>>Reporter: THE WORK REPRESENTS
TECHNIQUES HANDED DOWN FOR GENERATIONS.>>EVERYTHING HERE AT
QUALLA ARTS AND CRAFTS IS AUTHENTICALLY HANDMADE.>>EVERYTHING FROM BASKETRY TO
POTTERY, BEAD WORK, FINGER WEAVING, PAINTING, DRAWINGS.>>Reporter: HIGHLIGHTED ARE
THE BASKETS.>>EVERY BASKET IS DIFFERENT. I COULD MAKE THIS RIGHT HERE AND
COME BACK MAYBE TWO, THREE DAYS LATER AND TRY TO GET IT TO BE
THE SAME SIZE, SAME SHAPE. IT DON’T DO THAT. EVERY BASKET YOU MAKE AND SHAPE
OUT IS A LITTLE BIT DIFFERENT THAN EVERY OTHER
BASKET THAT YOU MAKE.>>Reporter: THEIR EXPERTISE
IS EVIDENT BEFORE THE WEAVING EVEN BEGINS.>>THE BASKET WEAVERS WOULD GO
OUT AND CUT A WHITE OAK TREE PROBABLY FOUR OR
FIVE IN DIAMETER. THEY USE AN AX TO QUARTER IT. AND THEN FROM THERE IT’S JUST A
POCKET KNIFE THAT THEY USE. FROM THERE THEY JUST SCRAPE THE
SPLINTS AND TRIM IT DOWN, AND EVERYTHING’S HANDMADE. AND THEN THEY GO OUT AND GATHER
THE BUD ROOT FOR THE DYES. THEY GATHER THE WALNUT. BUT ALL THE SPLINTS FROM THE
WHITE OAK IS BOILED, AND THAT’S HOW THEY ACHIEVE THE DYES.>>Reporter: ASIDE FROM THE MANY
ORIGINAL ITEMS FOR SALE, QUALLA ARTS AND CRAFTS ALSO HOUSES A
PERMANENT COLLECTION OF ARTWORK. IT’S A HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE
FROM GENERATIONS OF ARTISANS THAT CAME BEFORE AND HANDED DOWN
THEIR TALENTS. IT’S A GIFT THAT IS VITALLY
IMPORTANT TO ALL THE FUTURE GENERATIONS WHO CALL
THIS PLACE HOME.>>IF WE LOST ALL THE ARTS AND
CRAFTS IN THE CHEROKEE PEOPLE, WE’D LOSE OUR IDENTITY.>>I JUST REMEMBER MY FATHER
ALWAYS TELLING ME STORIES OF MY GRANDMA AND MY GRANDPA AND HOW
THEY WOULD MAKE BASKETS FOR, LIKE, TWO WEEKS. AND THEY WOULD PUT ALL THEY
COULD FIT INTO A SHEET AND PUT IT ON THEIR SHOULDERS AND BRING
THEM TO TOWN TO SELL.>>IT JUST GIVES ME GOOD
FEELING, BECAUSE IT’S SOMETHING THAT MY MOTHER
HANDED DOWN TO ME. SO HISTORY IS IN THE BASKETS.

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