Mural to honor women of the Snowbird community

Press release from Appalachian Mural Trail: 

The Z Smith Reynolds Foundation has recently announced 10 grant awards for “Inclusive Public Art” in the state of North Carolina and is partnering with UNC-TV Public Media North Carolina to capture and document the experiences and conversations of all ten grantee communities as they undergo the process of telling these important stories through public art.

One of these awards of $50,000 has been issued to a group of collaborators in Robbinsville, Graham County North Carolina, REVVED UP: Robbinsville Envisioning Vital Vibrant Economic Development and Urban Prosperity.

When Michelle Shiplet of REVVED UP met with Doreyl Ammons Cain, artist & director of the Appalachian Mural Trail, she had no idea this grant would be in their future. She had a plan for developing historical murals for her town of Robbinsville and had no clue where to start. During the meeting with Cain she realized the town’s first step was to join the Appalachian Mural Trail. Through this interaction the opportunity arose to apply for the Z Smith Reynolds Inclusive Public Art grant. Shiplet’s first thought for the grant proposal was the Beloved Women of the Snowbird Cherokee Community.

In December of 2018 Shiplet was informed that the Beloved Women of the Snowbird Community mural proposal was a semi-finalist in the grant process and they would be given funds to develop a budget, plan and a first rough draft of the artwork for the mural. She asked Doreyl Ammons Cain of the Appalachian Mural Trail and Tj Holland, Cultural Resources Supervisor for the Eastern Band of the Cherokee to be lead artists for the project. During the next three months this creative team met with the Snowbird Community, listened to their stories and Cain came up with the first rough draft of the mural and assisted with the planning of the mural project. The art and plan was submitted in early April. On June 4, 2019 the announcement was made, the Beloved Women of the Snowbird Community mural is becoming a reality.

The Appalachian Mural Trail will provide the structure for a community engaged process that creates opportunity for accomplished and emerging Snowbird Cherokee artists to receive training in muralism and who will ultimately be central to painting the artwork. Cain will lead three workshops in mural painting. This will also provide opportunities for direct descendants to paint the portraits of their ancestors, which will result in the creation of true storytelling public mural art. A kiosk will be a part of the mural where people can listen to the stories about the Beloved Women spoken in both English and Cherokee languages. The kiosk will be connected to the Appalachian Mural Trail website.

This mural project celebrates the achievements and recognition of the women of the Snowbird Cherokee community in this collaborative mural to be located in the town center of Robbinsville. This mural intends to build relationships and trust across lines of difference while celebrating an under told and important story. The Snowbird Cherokee are a community that is part of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, whose land base is in Graham County. While most mainstream shared knowledge about the Cherokee centers around their removal via the “Trail of Tears,” the Snowbird Cherokee carry the reputation of resilience and tradition, having hidden in their mountains to escape the forced removal of their people. That same spirit of pride and survival remains with them to this day and there is no better evidence than in the lives of their many strong and gifted women. The Cherokee people have long celebrated a traditional way of honoring those within their community who have displayed a true love and concern for their people and the preservation of their culture, history, and nation. The revered title of “Beloved Man” or “Beloved Woman” is given only to those who epitomize the qualities expected of a Cherokee. Snowbird Cherokee women have proven to be strong, wise, fearless, and filled with creativity as they have persevered through the trials of history. This remarkable community mural will bring these qualities alive for all to see.

“The honoring of our stories through the arts is the core essence of the Appalachian Mural Trail’s vision and now is becoming a reality through the hosting of community murals in small communities to large cities throughout and around the surrounding Appalachian Mountains,” says Cain. “These murals are spotlighting the creativity of our talented local artists, while telling much needed stories. We believe this is enhancing our visitor’s experience and uplifting community spirit!”

The Appalachian Mural Trail will be documenting the progress of the Beloved Women of the Snowbird Community mural through photos of the process of mural development. To see this process and to preview over 80 other cultural historical murals located from Clay County North Carolina all the way up into Virginia, go to where you can read about the artists and find directions to travel and view the murals in person.

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