Don’t Miss Cherokee Artist Demonstrations at the Open Air Indian Art Market | Cherokee, NC

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Don’t Miss Cherokee Artist Demonstrations at the Open Air Indian Art Market

Generations of Cherokee artists are represented at the Qualla Arts and Crafts Mutual, the nation’s oldest Native American Cooperative that preserves and promotes the traditional arts and crafts of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. While the shop is open year round, the annual Open Air Indian Art Market provides visitors an opportunity to meet many Cherokee artists who are members of Qualla Arts and Crafts, and watch them create their masterpieces. This year’s outdoor event will take place on Saturday, August 25, in the Cultural District of Cherokee, next to the Museum of the Cherokee Indian. It’s free and open to all.

“This event lets people interact with arts and helps the co-op. It also offers the chance to talk to the artists, and the artists can sell directly to visitors. We provide the tents and set up. It brings people to the co-op,” says Vicki Cruz, manager at Qualla Arts and Crafts, who has been with the event since its inaugural year in 2002.

About 300 artists are represented at Qualla Arts and Crafts Mutual and more than a dozen are confirmed for the event. Mediums include beadwork, quilting, shell carvings, wood carvings, stone carvings, basketry, and more.

The North American Indian Women’s Association (NAIWA) will provide food for this event, available for purchase. “It is an appropriate event for NAIWA because the market focuses on traditional arts of our people. The meal that we serve has become the traditional ‘Indian dinner’ in Cherokee. While the menu and cooking methods have changed over time, so has our menu,” says Carmaleta Monteith, a member of the NAIWA Cherokee Chapter.

Carmaleta adds, “The one item that persists is bean bread. We make it as in the past but instead of wrapping the bean bread to be boiled in corn blades or hickory leaves, we use aluminum foil. Fried chicken has replaced the wild game, cabbage has replaced wild greens, and we serve mixed pinto beans and hominy. Fatback or side meat is rendered to provide seasoning for the bean bread. Fried potatoes, instead of boiled potatoes have become a favorite. Sodas have replaced spicewood tea or other herbal teas. And assorted desserts complete the meal.”

Head over to Qualla Arts and Crafts Mutual for authentic and unique gifts—or buy something special for yourself!

Want to go?

Where: Outdoors, near the Museum of the Cherokee Indian (589 Tsali Blvd) and Qualla Arts & Crafts Mutual (645 Tsali Blvd) in Cherokee, NC.

When: Saturday, August 25, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Cost: Free admission

Contact for more information: Vicki,, 828.497.3103

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