Bernice Calhoun Bottchenbaugh has spent many years preserving and sharing Cherokee cultural traditions, just as generations of her family members have done. Bottchenbaugh is a daughter of Walker Calhoun, a revered Cherokee elder who was a singer, dancer, craftsman, and bearer of many other tribal traditions, and who received the National Heritage Award in 1992. Her paternal grandmother was a widely respected medicine woman, and her great-uncle Will West Long was a central figure in the documentation and continuation of early Cherokee traditions in the 20th century.
Following in her family tradition, Bottchenbaugh is both a craftsperson and a dancer, someone for whom Cherokee artistic and spiritual heritage is both a part of everyday life and a gift that she shares with the wider public. She is a well-known beadworker, whose work is represented by the Qualla Arts and Crafts Mutual, and who demonstrates at fairs and other events. In addition to beadwork, her crafts include making moccasins and traditional Cherokee clothing. She has taught craft workshops for the Right Path, “Du-yu Dv-I,” a program that incorporates ancestral wisdom into contemporary leadership training.
Along with several family members, Bottchenbaugh is a member of the Raven Rock Dancers, a group founded by Walker Calhoun in the 1980s. The Raven Rock Dancers perform, demonstrate, and teach the social dances and associated songs of the Cherokee people, which were passed down through Will West Long and Walker Calhoun to Bernice Bottchenbaugh and her extended family.
Bernice Bottchenbaugh will consider requests for demonstrations, performances, and workshops.