Published On: Tue, Jul 19th, 2011

Qualla Arts and Crafts Mutual turns 65

     Qualla Arts and Crafts Mutual will be celebrating its 65th anniversary in August.    The cooperative formed after a series of meetings brought together Eastern Band craftsmen with Cherokee Agency Superintendent Joe Jennings, Principal Chief Jarrett Blythe, and teachers Gertrude Flanagan, Goingback Chiltoskie, and Lottie Stamper.  Later, others attended, including Lizzy Youngbird, Lucy George, Caroline Wolfe, and Watty Chiltoskie.

     From the start, the group focused on the economic value of forming a cooperative organization that would give artisans a “place for ready sale.”  The group discussed holding “buying days” for craftwork, a practice that was adopted and is still in use today. Also like today, there were many discussions about the availability of artisan resources and the growing scarcity of some materials.

      Finally, at a meeting held on Aug. 23, 1946, “everyone signed the new Constitution and By-Laws.”  The group elected its first officers.  McKinley Ross was voted in as President, William Crowe as Vice President, and Bertha Craig as Secretary/Treasurer.  A typed list recorded the names of 59 charter members.

     Qualla Arts and Crafts will celebrate its 65th anniversary with an open house on Saturday, Aug. 13 from 10am – 4pm that will include demonstrations and a new, permanent exhibit on its history.  The anniversary celebration is just the first in a series of celebrations.  The fall season will include a “gathering” of elders who remember events and people who made up the co-op in its early days.  Through recorded oral interviews, the co-op plans to “harvest” stories that will be later shared with the public on their website.

     Info: www.quallaartsandcrafts.com

– Qualla Arts & Crafts

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