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(Many Paths)
An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America
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Shell Carver To Share Knowledge Through Mentoring Program
by Cherokee Phoenix staff
credits: photos by Will Chavez - Cherokee Phoenix

TAHLEQUAH, OK – Shell carver and Cherokee National Treasure Knokovtee Scott will share his knowledge of shell carving using river mussel shells beginning Feb. 7 at the Cherokee Arts Center.

The Feb. 7 class will be an introductory class and will begin at 10 a.m. and end at 4 p.m. Beginning Feb. 16, and throughout March and April, classes will meet from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Mondays and Wednesdays.

The classes are a part of an effort through the Cherokee National Treasures Program to preserve traditional Cherokee arts. Cherokee National Treasures are able to teach classes through a new $50,000 grant provided by the Tribal Council. The grant will directly benefit Cherokee National Treasures and provide opportunities for them to sell their works or have them displayed.

Cherokee artists who are awarded the title of national treasure excel in their respective craft or art and are recognized by the tribe as a master. Such craft or arts include pottery, basket making, knife making, bow and arrows, textiles, weaving, painting and jewelry. There is also a category for those who help perpetuate the Cherokee language.

“It is an honor and a privilege to have Knokovtee teaching the ancient art of Cherokee traditional shell carving,” Cherokee National Treasure Jane Osti, who is helping coordinate the classes, said. “In this class he will be teaching the art of carving gorgets, earrings and pendants. Students that take his class produce great work, a testimonial to his great teaching talent.

Scott prefers to use purple mussel shells found in rivers and lakes in northeastern Oklahoma. Purple mussels are rare and cherished for their purple hue, which can turn into the colors of a rainbow in sunlight.

The Rose native began working with shells to make art in 1975 after returning home from studying art at the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico. He said he knew the multiple colors in the shell would make great jewelry, and the shell was thick enough to work with.

“You find 10 pounds of white shells to one of these (purple shell). They’re kind of a rarity among mussels,” he said.

The classes and mentorships will continue through September. For more information or to enroll, call Jennifer Pigeon at 918-453-5367 or Osti via Facebook.

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