ROGERSVILLE — Cherokee people were active traders at the Thomas Amis historical settlement site dating back more than 235 years ago, a tradition that some tribe members rekindled this weekend.
On Saturday, Jake and Wendy Jacobs hosted the first ever monthly Big Creek Cherokee Artisan Market at the Big Creek Welcome Center across from the Amis Mill Eatery just south of Rogersville.
Capt. Thomas Amis was one of the few white settlers who befriended and traded with the Native Americans.
Hamblen County artist Stonewolfe, who is a fifth generation descendant of famed Cherokee warrior Dragging Canoe, was stationed inside the welcome center with his brother Walking Bear and wife, Yellow Feather.
“This is just a little get-together that Jake (Jacobs) put together,” Stonewolfe told the Times-News during Saturday’s event. “He asked us to help with it. They’ve got artists out back. Stained glass, wood carvings, and of course you’ve got all the pottery made here by my brother Walking Bear. The Cherokee Room is full of dreamcatchers, handmade knives, jewelry made of leather. I make stone knives, tomahawks, spears, blowguns, and my wife makes the dreamcatchers. Everything is authentic. Everything I make is a 10,000-year-old tradition.”
Walking Bear noted that every piece of art on display is hand crafted.
“I’m a potter, and I’ve been doing it for quite a few years. Everything that I make is from the earth. These pieces (he brought to display Saturday) are ground stone from the painted desert. It’s mixed limestone and potters clay. It’s all been liquefied, poured, dried and glazed. We make over 500 different items, from the big wolf, to little wolves, to any Native American plaque, statue — just whatever my imagination can come up with.”
Dragging Canoe was a welcomed trader at the settlement from Amis’ arrival in the late 1770s until Dragging Canoe’s death in 1792.
Other artists from the area were stationed in and around the welcome center, which is located just downstream and within view of the 237-year-old Amis Dam and waterfall, which is the oldest stone dam in Tennessee.
Bobby Merrithew of Eidson isn’t a native American. He is a New England native who migrated to the Clinch Mountain area 38 years ago.
But he represented the American Indian in artwork on display Saturday with his wood carvings and stained glass.
“I like doing American Indian artwork, and I only use wood off my own property,” Merrithew said. “I like using walnut. I also use yellow poplar. I like doing things in cedar because once I get into it, I can bring out the red from the cedar on the insides. And I do anything in stained glass. American Indian, Victorian, anything anyone wants in stained glass, I’m here for them.”
Many of the artists who participated in Saturday’s event are from the Rogersville Local Artists Gallery, including Carol Thompson, who had several paintings on display with Native American themes.
Among those were a Native American portrait which won Best in Show at last year’s Rogersville Heritage Days art festival.
The date of next month's Big Creek Cherokee Artisan Market will be announced well in advance. The Amis Mill Eatery and Big Creek welcoem Center are located about two miles south of Rogersville on w. Bear Hollow road near the Burem Road intersection.
For additional information about Amis Mill and the Big Creek Cherokee Artisan Market visit online at www.amismill.com email [email protected]