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Cherokee NC

Cherokee Potters Guild

Cherokee potters Cherokee, NC (Qualla Boundary)
(828) 497-3481 bduncan@cherokeemuseum.org

Cherokee Potters Guild
Point of contact: Barbara Duncan

The Cherokee Potters Guild is dedicated to preserving, teaching, and researching traditional Cherokee stamped pottery. The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians has the longest continuing pottery tradition on their own land of any tribe in the United States, going back three thousand years. Members of the guild do demonstrations, exhibit their work, and teach hands-on workshops.

The guild began in January 2003 following a series of workshops at the Museum of the Cherokee Indian. Its members include: Amanda Swimmer, Davy Arch, Josh Dugan, Bernadine George, Denise George, Betty Maney, Melissa Maney, Shirley Oswalt, Joel Queen, Dean Reed, Alyne Stamper, Don Swimmer, Mary Ann Thompson.

Cherokee pottery is hand built, thin-walled, waterproof, and stamped with wooden paddles that create rectilinear and curvilinear designs. It is not glazed, but sometimes burnished or covered with slip. Pots are fired in an open fire that imparts mottled smoke patterns. Shapes include large and small cooking pots, serving bowls, water bottles, and effigy pots.

The Cherokee Potters Guild has been supported by the Museum of the Cherokee Indian, the Cherokee Preservation Foundation, and the North Carolina Arts Council, with research assistance from the Research Labs of Archaeology at UNC-Chapel Hill. Master ceramicist Tamara Beane, an expert on Southeastern pottery, has also worked with the group.

Cherokee Potters Guild members have demonstrated at the Smithsonian Festival of American Folklife, Schemetzun Powwow at Foxwoods Casino, Ocmulgee National Monument Festival, Stone Mountain Park, Cherokee Voices Festival, Cherokee Fall Fair, Dollywood, UNC-Chapel Hill, Highlands Handicraft Guild Fair, the Southeastern Archaeology Conference, and elsewhere. They have taught classes and workshops throughout the Cherokee communities of Western North Carolina, at Western Carolina University, Warren Wilson College, and for the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma.


Potters are available to demonstrate, participate in exhibits, and teach hands-on classes. Their fees must include expenses for traveling and lodging. A materials fee will also be required. They can work with large or small groups of any age.

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