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Davy Arch

Davy Arch

Cherokee storyteller, lecturer, craft demonstrator Cherokee, NC (Qualla Boundary)

Davy Arch tells Cherokee stories, presents lectures on Cherokee history and culture, and demonstrates carving, flint knapping, and mask making. He adapts his programs for audiences of all ages. Using artwork from different mediums, he describes both Cherokee history and contemporary Cherokee life. He is a founding member of the Cherokee Potters Guild.

For the first ten years of his life, Davy Arch and his family lived with his grandfather, who taught him to tell Cherokee stories, practice herbal medicine, and use wild plants for food. They lived on Stilwell Branch in the Painttown community or the Qualla Boundary. His education in Cherokee culture continued after he graduated from Sylva High School in 1975, when he went to work at the Oconaluftee Living History Village. There he learned to carve masks from the elder mask maker Sim Jessan. From other elders he learned the meaning of masks and went on to study older masks made in the past. Today he carves masks of buckeye wood, cherry, pine, and walnut.

Davy Arch’s carved masks have been on display at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., and his stories have been published in the award-winning book Living Stories of the Cherokee. As a participant for six years in the North Carolina Arts Council’s Visiting Artist Program, he has presented programs on Cherokee culture in schools throughout North Carolina. Additionally, he has spoken at the North Carolina Museum of History, the North Carolina Museum of Art, and on National Public Radio. Davy Arch frequently works with public school teachers through the North Carolina Center for the Advancement of Teaching (NCCAT) in Cullowhee. A member of the Board of Directors of Qualla Arts and Crafts Mutual, he has also demonstrated at numerous festivals, including the 1982 World’s Fair in Knoxville. His earliest recognition was a Grand Prize for carving at the Cherokee Indian Fair in 1979. He is a certified Tour Guide for the Cherokee Heritage Trails. At present he works as Education Director at Qualla Arts and Crafts, and as a guide at the Oconaluftee Indian Village.

The video here, is from an interview by Tonya Carroll “Hornet’s Nest Mask” and “Geese Ascending” Photographed by Maggie Steber from “Building One Fire” by Smith and Strickland Cherokee Nation 2012, Other Photography by Ashley Evans and Katherine Bartel, Video and Editing by Katherine Bartel, A Production of Mountain Heritage Center, Dr. Scott Philyaw, Director of Western Carolina University, Cullowhee, North Carolina and the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area.


Davy Arch can present programs anywhere, on masks, storytelling, and pottery. His fee is negotiable, but must include compensation for travel and expenses. His work is sold mainly at the Qualla Arts and Crafts Mutual in Cherokee.