Published On: Mon, Oct 22nd, 2012

Betty Craig Dupree – obituary

Former Qualla Arts & Crafts manager passes away

Betty Craig DuPree, 83, a resident of Cherokee, died on Thursday night, Oct. 18 at the Cherokee Indian Hospital of a brief illness.  An EBCI tribal member,  she was the daughter of the late Don and Bertha Craig. She was also preceded in death by her husband of 45 years, Trinidad J. DuPree, who die in 1992, her son Mark E. DuPree and her sister, Jean Parker of Cherokee.

She is survived by two sons David J. DuPree and wife Joy of Cherokee; Warren D. DuPree and wife Joyce of Sylva; and a daughter, Charmane G. DuPree of Cherokee; nine grandchildren; eight great grandchildren; her brother Bob Craig and sisters Eustie Chandler, Mary Jane Letts and Bertie Cooper, all of Cherokee.

Betty left her beloved WNC mountains in her early 20’s and moved to the Four Corners Indian Country with her husband and children. From 1950 to 1970, she traveled throughout the southwest in her role as a BIA educator’s wife. As an outstanding homemaker and creative individual she began her lifelong interest in American Indian arts and crafts as well as a deep sense of service to her community.

Her second career began when she and her family returned to Cherokee NC in the 1970’s and she became manager of the Qualla Arts and Crafts Mutual. During her 27 years as manager and Cherokee artist advocate, she helped Qualla Arts and Crafts become the most successful American Indian owned-and-operated cooperative arts organization in the nation.

Her membership and associations were numerous but included the Southern Highland Guild, the NC State Arts Council and the National Endowment of the Arts, and her participation with the Indian Arts and Crafts Association in Albuquerque, NM and Washington, D.C. lead to her reputation as a staunch Indian arts advocate. For years she traveled in the USA and Europe to consult with American Indian and non-indian groups about marketing
strategies for crafts while presenting programs to promote the Cherokee artists and crafts people she loved so much.

She donated vast amounts of her time to community service including the Cherokee School Board. During the 16 years she served, the Cherokee school system was transitioned from a federal program to an EBCI grant school under PL 100-297. She was also a valued member of the Cherokee Boy’s Club Advisory Committe for over 30 years in her advocacy for young people.

Betty was active in several groups that were very near and dear to her heart. The American Cancer Society, the Relay for Life Campaign, and the Native American Indian Women’s Association which seemed to embody Betty’s committment to all women and their families, community, health, education and American Indian culture.

A funeral service was conducted by Ray Kinsland at 3p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 21 at Long House Funeral Home in Cherokee. A graveside service will be announced at a later date and will occur at the Bradley Family Cemetery on Bunches Creek in Cherokee with Honorary Pall Bearers, Robbie Craig, Jason DuPree, Joseph Phillips and Cody Phillips.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the national or local chapters of the American Cancer Society.

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