Tahlequah

September 19, 2017

Anyone who is around me much will hear the names Jess and Sandy Hummingbird.  I worked with them at Peabody College in the 1970s on a government grant, Project More.  Sandy traveled to talk about this grant and Jess ran the printing press. 

 

They were in the waiting room when our daughter was born. Should we have had godparents for our children, they would have been our choice.

 

Sandy is a great cook and we spent many Thanksgivings with them in various places they lived...Chicago, where we rode down the Dan Ryan Expressway in a 1949 Chevrolet named Beauty or a 1951 Ford named Frieda;  Dallas, Tulsa, Tucson, and now I have been to Bisbee AZ to see them at least twice.

 

Jess began a career as an artist and Sandy has been the business manager.  Christmas has been fabulous because I've gotten tee-shirts of Jess's art as well as the new holiday card.  I have had an interest in what children played with before plastic and they have often sent fabulous things from their region of the country.

 

Each year there is a Cherokee Homecoming not unlike the other ethnic celebrations, but completely different.  Jess was named a Cherokee National Treasure this year at their Homecoming.  I drove to Tahlequah OK for the ceremony.  Also met his brother, Eddie, whose name has been mentioned a lot.  Eddie is also a Cherokee National Treasure in the field of sculpture. Nephew  Travis, who has gotten an MFA, and his mother, Eddie and Jess's sister, were there too.  

 

I didn't get to see the crafts and quilts, but it wasn't for lack of wanting to.  I rented a car and _I_ found it to be a 16 hour drive.   I crossed the Arkansas border late at night and was not on interstates and wondered if I had gotten into a Twilight Zone.   A lot of students I know are from Memphis and it took  FOREVER to get to and from Memphis.  

 

A fear I had was that a deer would choose that moment to change the joke from "Why did the chicken cross the road?" to a deer.  While at Eddie's he had a painting of a hunter standing in a tree waiting perhaps for deer.  I asked if they are active at night and, alas, he said yes.  I also saw in several places a short plant I assume to be (stinky) like marigolds to discourage them.

 

 

The ceremony was held on August 21 (Thursday) in a school gym.  I loved the name of the room (e.g. women's bathroom) having both Cherokee and English labels.  While there I learned that Cherokee is language was recorded as a "syllabary" because all their characters have only one sound, unlike English in which the number of exceptions in spelling and pronunciation are legion.  I was told that after it was introduced there was perhaps 90% literacy within a year!  

 

At the ceremony there were two male presenters in the middle and on the ends were two young Cherokee women. Lovely.  I was so pleased to be there.

 

There was a meat I couldn't identify...it looked a bit like ham, but slightly suspicious.  It was smoked bologna.  When I was young this was a sandwich I had a lot in my school lunch box so a bite every season is more than enough.  

 

Sandy and Jess have always set the bar for tourism.  When we visit we go to look at the local pottery shards.  I loved this about them..we went to Mt. Kitt when they lived in Tucson, to the Fields Museum in Chicago, and many more places.

 

Friday we went to  the Cherokee National Supreme Court Museum (built in 1844), The Cherokee Arts Center and met a potter who was a National Treasure.  I especially enjoyed going to the National Prison Museum.  It was built in 1875 and had a focus on rehabilitating prisoners and had a blacksmith shop for this purpose.  Gallows have been recreated.  In the afternoon we visited the Murrell Home.  

 

We also went out to Eddie's house which was fabulous.  As arts lovers they had a whole bedroom devoted to Jess's art, as well as baskets, pottery, framed art....all stunning displayed.  We went in Eddie's workspace which was also fun.  

 

That evening we went to see the art entered into the annual competition.  There were several categories of young people and that was especially wonderful.

 

I always ask travelers about what they ate, so here is this report:

Years ago we lived in Kansas.   Oldsters will remember "fern bars." They had "huevos rancheros" consisting of English muffins, Canadian bacon, two eggs, and a tasty sauce.  I've been on a quest since then to see how others prepare this dish.  When in the Bisbee area as well as other towns almost always it consists of eggs with a tomato type sauce, refried beans and rice.  This held true in Tahlequah.  

 

We also went to Sam n' Ellas.  I didn't get the joke.  Hope you do.

 

 

 

 

 

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