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, December 21, 2004

Basketry: Kathy Van Buskirk

The Cherokee Heritage Center's Kathy Van Buskirk is an accomplished and respected basketry artist. We took a few minutes out of her busy day to talk with her about her art:

"I began basketry in 1988 after working in the ancient village here at the Center. Ann Huckaby got me started. Ann is a master craftsman and after showing me the basics, I took it from there. I really like sitting down to make the basket and doing it with someone in mind or for someone. I don’t ever try to do two alike. Each one is individual, and it’s never about doing a basket to sell—it’s about doing it because I want to make something at that time with someone in mind to do it for, and to do it the best that I can. Through all the years it’s been a wonderful feeling knowing that these baskets have gone all over the world, to missionaries in Africa, and then through the years teaching people and seeing them start out the same but end up differently--everyone is different; they all make something different with the same amount of reed.

"I really got excited this past September when one of my students came in and said that she is now teaching the teachers in Tulsa how to make baskets. It was great knowing that I helped her get started and now it’s being carried on. People’s interest in basketry is the same as mine. You can take a piece of honeysuckle vine and make it into a work of art. Taking things that are so basic and can be woven into something like a basket is wonderful. It helps educate people about Cherokee culture. They come here and are fascinated that everything here is being done and made; they didn't realize until they came here that everything off the land can be used; stones, pots, baskets, just the things that nature provided. Once you know the reed you know what you can do with it, and that’s what led me to create turtle baskets, which many people now make. I’ve never taught it as a class, but if a person wants to know how I’ll show them how. I want people to learn what I know. I’ve made purses and done lots of different things, just trying things and doing it."

Posted by Seth


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