Cherokee Heritage Center

The Center consists of a living history Cherokee village, a museum, and small township of historical buildings. Dedicated to the perservation of Cherokee culture and history, it is one of the most widely visited Native American sites in Oklahoma.

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Tuesday, February 15, 2005

A Man of Many Hats


Robert Lewis, interpretive guide for the Ancient Villge


Robert Lewis, a man of many hats. A Cherokee Heritage Center employee since 2001, Lewis knows the value of hard work, dedication and community involvement. His face appears everywhere from brochures, to dramas, and life size pictures of him in all the welcome centers. Everyone wants to know the man behind the face.

This Oklahoma native was born in Salina but grew up in Ft. Gibson. His mother is Cherokee and his father is Apache and half Navaho. While growing up Lewis knew little about his Native American culture. His father was removed from the reservation and put into boarding school. His mother graduated from Sequoyah. His grandparents converted to Christianity, so they did not talk much about their heritage.

He graduated from Northeastern State University with a Bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts and a minor in Humanities and Literature. He is an art instructor at the university and his art work was showcased last year at the Cherokee Heritage Center.

He first started participating in the Trail of Tears drama in 1994, before he was ever employed at the Cherokee Heritage Center. He started working for the Cherokee National Historical Society in 2001 in the society’s pottery plant. In the summer of 2002 he started working in the ancient village at the Cherokee Heritage Center to help maintain the historical site.

Lewis's responsibilities at the center include giving tours of the ancient village and story telling for groups. When area schools visit, Lewis gives demonstrations of basket making, bow and arrows, and flint napping.

He always gets the school children involved, especially the Cherokee students, to give them exposure to their heritage.
He also strives to tell his children as much as he can about the Cherokee culture.

Lewis’s family is very active in conserving Cherokee heritage.
His wife, Veronica, who is also Cherokee, is very interested in Native American pottery and art. She also gives demonstrations for the center on weaving and pottery.

He said his future goal is to learn the Cherokee language completely.

When asked what his favorite part was about working at the center, Lewis said, “All the people that work here. It’s more like a family than an ordinary work environment.”

“I feel the Cherokee Heritage Center is a way to maintain Cherokee history by getting the community involved,” said Lewis.

This husband and father of two tries hard to restore the Cherokee history at the center as well as at home.

Posted by Andrea Butler, communications intern from NSU

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