“We thank them because they are a great treasure for our nation,” Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chad Smith said about the National Treasure Award recipients during a ceremony in their honor. “They’re an inspiration for our future.”
The nation bestows the title of National Treasure on citizens who have committed their lives to preserving Cherokee culture and reviving traditions.
Smith presented copper medallions—handmade by Cherokee artisans led by Toneh Chuleewah, who instructs a metalsmithing class—to the recipients.
“We wanted to show the elders we appreciate them and give them something that will last a long time,” said Chuleewah in a video message to the crowd. “This is special because a group of Cherokees produced something for Cherokee elders.”
Among those honored were Ed Fields and John Ketcher.
For his contributions to language—he teaches an online Cherokee course—Fields was named a National Treasure last year.
Ketcher, a former Cherokee Nation deputy principal chief and tribal council member, was named a National Treasure in 1992 for helping to revive the tradition of mechanical loom weaving.
To nominate a Cherokee citizen as a National Treasure, call Bill Andoe at 918-453-5153.