Kyle Creed

Old-time musician and instrument builder

Surry County, NC

"I don't believe in building nothing I'd be ashamed to own," Kyle Creed said in a 1970s interview. "I like them to stay with me." Creed was a carpenter by trade, and an excellent old-time banjo player and fiddler. He combined his passions for woodworking and music and built some of the most highly prized banjos in the northwest North Carolina-southwest Virginia region. As he had planned, the banjos lasted.

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Goingback Chiltosky


Qualla Boundary

Cherokee tribal elder Goingback Chiltosky was a master woodcarver who influenced several generations of carvers. His work includes carvings of animal and human subjects, often in native woods such as cherry, walnut, holly apple, and buckeye, but he also carved request orders from exotic woods. In addition to freestanding pieces, he carved large bas-reliefs. He said he always thought of his own "trademark as being a smooth finished piece of wood with a minimum of fine detail."

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Aaron Buff

Chair maker

Burke County

Aaron Buff found his calling as a chair maker when he was about ten years old. One of ten children of Hud and Cordie Buff, who farmed and operated a corn mill in the southern part of Burke County, he attended the nearby Absher school in the early 1920s. "They had a workshop down there, and they made stools and the man made splits," he recalled. "Had two turning lathes down there. I never will forget, I turned one round and put it in a chair I took from the house. Oh law, I thought I had done something!"

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Nancy Bradley

Basket weaver

Qualla Boundary

Nancy Bradley, remembered as a master basket weaver, represents an earlier era of craftsmanship and daily life in the Cherokee community than many of the other great basket makers of the twentieth century. Like many basket makers, Bradley, who only spoke Cherokee, would bundle up her baskets in a blanket, which she would carry on her back to town to barter for groceries and other staples.

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Michael Wheeler

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Danny Sturgill

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Rick Stone

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