Southeast Indian Writers Gathering

Nvkuse, the Bear

Here, in all his glory, is "Nugsy" aka Nvkvse (in Creek language). He stands stoically outside a souvenir shop in Cherokee, North Carolina.

I know there will be lots of friends waiting for me in North Carolina! Including this tore-up old bear, known as “Nugsy” to my friend Laura Harjo.

Laura used to have this as her profile photo and it always made me laugh. She said the bear was standing outside a souvenir shop along the road to Cherokee, North Carolina.

Laura also noted, “This bear also had a sign that said ‘Do Not Touch, Covered With Poisonous Chemicals!” For those of you wondering about the Creek language,  ‘Nugsy’ is diminutive of the Creek word for bear — ‘nokose.'”

I can only hope the bear is there to greet me on Thursday!

It’s time for the annual Southeast Indian Writers Gathering, organized by the Museum of the Cherokee and Western Carolina University’s Sequoyah scholar, Robert J. Conley.

I’ve known Robert for many, many years and he and his wife Evelyn are dear friends. Robert, as you probably know, is an award-winning Cherokee Author and Historian and a multiple winner of the Western Spur writer’s award. He’s the author of many books that I have on my shelves, including “Ned Christie’s War,” “Crazy Snake,” War Woman, “Mountain Windsong,” and the list goes on.

Arigon with Robert Conley

Arigon with Robert Conley at a joint booksigning event, Tahlequah, Oklahoma 2003

The Writers’ Gathering takes place at The Museum of the Cherokee Indian, 589 Tsali Blvd., Cherokee, North Carolina on September 14 & 15th. I’ll be presenting a panel on songwriting on Thursday morning (September 15th) at 10:00am. The cost of the workshop and event is FREE — so if you’re in the area, come on down and enjoy some lively presentations and discussions.

There’s a group of fine speakers planning on attending, including: Lee Francis (Laguna), Executive Director of Wordcraft Circle of Native Writers; Dr. Kimberly Roppolo (Cherokee/Creek)  from the faculty at the University of Oklahoma; Vernon Schmid (Cherokee); and Bob Perry, (Chickasaw).

More information here:

The Museum of the Cherokee Indian

In response to yesterday’s post about the Indian guy asking for five dollars a photo — Agent 49 aka Dion Francis noted that the practice is known as “Chiefing” — and that it probably put his kids through college. Robert Conley wrote in his book “Cherokee Thoughts: Honest & Uncensored:”

“Here was a Cherokee, on the Cherokee Reservation, in a Cherokee town, doing exactly what the Hollywood filmmakers were doing. Here was a Cherokee feeding the myth that all Indians are alike, enforcing the ignorance that the general public was carrying around in its head, or its many heads. I was sickened. I was disgusted. I was ashamed. I was….”

Robert talks about a Creek artist who created stunning paintings of Plains Indians…even though he was from a Southeastern Tribe. The artist’s explanation — it’s because “white people want to buy those.”

Robert continues:

“When a Cherokee from North Carolina was asked about another practitioner of that racket, Carl Standingdeer, he gave the following answer. ‘He’s put several kids through college doing that.’ It’s hard to argue with success.”

See you in North Carolina!


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