IACA Journal Fall 2013 - page 14

IACA Journal | Fall 2013
Upon entering the doors of Qualla Arts and Crafts Mutual, Inc., it does not take an art
expert to realize how special and talented the artists of Cherokee, North Carolina are.
Known affectionately as “the co-op” by the locals, this organization was founded in 1946
by fifty-nine extraordinary artists and enrolled members of the Eastern Band of Cher-
okee Indians. Additionally, Qualla Arts and Crafts Mutual has been a member of the
Indian Arts and Crafts Association since 1978.
As the leading and the oldest Native American arts and crafts
cooperative in the country, the “co-op” assists its 300+ members
by providing them opportunities to sell their artwork to
supplement their income year-round. In turn, this has allowed
traditional and contemporary Cherokee artists to grow, thrive,
and create in an encouraging environment.
It is no ordinary feat to have such an outstanding organization that offers support and
helps grow the creativity of the artistic minds in a small community, especially during a
time when art programs in other areas are suffering from lack of support and funding.
Qualla Arts and Crafts Mutual does so much more than sell authentic, handmade Native
American arts and crafts. They provide assistance to the artist members by working
with local organizations and individuals to protect and access traditional materials such
Qualla Arts and Crafts Mutual
Retail Profile
as wood for carving and basket making
and stone for carving and weaponry. The
organization also secures grant funding
to offer artists classes on how to make a
living as an artist, give them a chance to
teach classes to ensure our traditional
arts and crafts are passed on to the youth
of our tribe, and collect and document
items for a permanent gallery showcas-
ing the work of our artist members since
its founding. People who visit the “co-op”
have the opportunity to experience the
beauty of Cherokee history and culture
through Cherokee artists who always
leave a piece of themselves in their work.
To create their own fond memories, vis-
itors can purchase authentic handmade
art that can be passed down through
many generations.
Membership in this organization is
often generational, meaning a member’s
by Tonya E. Carroll and Debora Kinsland Foerst • Photos by Bear Allison
Qualla Arts and Crafts Mutual, Inc. is loaded with authentic handmade arts and crafts created by their 300+ juried Eastern Band of
Cherokee artist members. Sharon Owl is one of their top sales associates.
1...,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12,13 15,16,17,18,19,20
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