He grew up close to the art business, as his father Ron is a well-known Cherokee artist who began his career in the 1970s. While both have experience in metal art, Tommy said he’s now setting his work apart with painting and grinding techniques.
“Dad was doing metal artwork, but he wasn’t doing it to the extent that I am now, not with the color,” Tommy said. “He would actually cut the piece out, grind the edges and heat-treat it, but he wasn’t putting the grinding marks in it like I have. Dad never even thought about using the grinder the way I was doing, so already this was out of his league.”
Tommy said he usually draws inspiration from things he sees on television and YouTube. Once he completes a design on sketchpad, he transfers it onto poster board and then onto 14- to 18-gauge sheet metal with a magic marker.
The design is then cut with a plasma cutter before he uses a grinder to smooth jagged edges and polish out imperfections. Once satisfied, he grinds grooves into the metal to give the illusion of feathers and depth.
Cherokee Nation citizen Tommy Roe Mitchell uses a grinder to create feather effects into his metal artwork on Jan. 30 in his studio in Yukon. BRITTNEY BENNETT/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
The two opened on Nov. 26 to share their love for nature.
“We’re kind of an old-fashioned store. We really try to emphasize quality goods,” Cornsilk said. “If we don’t believe in it, we don’t sell it. If I sell something here, I’ve used it, tried it. I know it inside and out.”
Cornsilk’s love for the outdoors began at a young age when he and his father spent three months camping in Alaska and Canada. “I think it kind of put something in my heart that I never forgot.”
Located at The Village, Cornsilk said it’s a kind of store not “typically” seen in the area.
Cherokee Nation citizen Gaylon Cornsilk stands among items in the Woodsman Trading Co. at The Village in Oklahoma City. Cornsilk is the co-owner of the store alongside his brother-in-law Travis Smith. The duo used their experiences with the outdoors and decided to open the store in November. STACIE BOSTON/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Gladd said because the majority of people who “run” horses in the community are Cherokee, it’s good to see the CN keep BRD open for training purposes.
Purchased from the Choctaw Nation for $2.5 million in December 2009, Cherokee Nation Entertainment opened the nearly 100-acre property as a racehorse-training center in late 2010.
It’s equipped with barns, stalls and a seven-eighths-of-a mile track, which can be rented for training. It has 354 stalls and currently has approximately 180 horses training there.
Gladd has owned his racehorse training business called Gladd Racing for nearly 12 years, but has used BRD for the past three years. He said at BRD he is able to rent stalls and use the track to run his horses for a better price than if he built a training facility.
Cherokee Nation citizen and racehorse trainer Andy Gladd and assistant trainer Kassie Gladd (Cherokee/Shawnee), of Gladd Racing, stand in a barn where they keep their racehorses at the Cherokee Nation’s Blue Ribbon Downs Training Center grounds in Sallisaw. KENLEA HENSON/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
MLK Community Center Director and Muskogee City Councilor Derrick Reed led Secretary of State Chuck Hoskin Jr., Johnson-O’Malley Program Director Mark Vance and Cherokee National Treasure Tommy Wildcat on the tour.
“After Cherokee Nation’s sponsorship on Martin Luther King day, we thought we should get to know each other better,” said Reed. “We feel honored to have them back in the building today. Here at the center, we’re always excited about partnerships. That’s what Dr. Martin Luther King stood for is that we all could come together as brothers and sisters, and I feel like that’s the kind of relationship we’re forming at this time.”
Twelve-year-old Cherokee Nation citizen Mayara Sage King has been coming to the MLK center for three years.
“It helps me in ways like when I struggle with math.” said King, “It (the program) gives me the opportunity to get better at it. The teachers who tutor us here, they have a lot of patience. They’re here to help you with your homework but more than that, they’re here to help you.”
Mark Keeley, a clinical dietitian and 34-year Cherokee Nation employee, said while working with Native Americans he’s stressed that salt doesn’t need to be added to food and could adversely affect a person’s health.
“Salt will retain fluid on your body…that fluid is going to take up lung space. So now you’re trying to breathe around lungs that are trying to fill up,” he said. “If your heart’s not able to pump as well as it used to then the slower your blood stream moves the more some of that salty water will leak off into your ankles and legs, and so now you’re carrying weight around and it kind of waterlogs your system.”
Keeley said he’s had people tell him that they salt their food even before tasting it.
“People have told me, ‘Here’s what I used to do. I use to salt food before I even tasted it and salt it heavy and then taste it.’ Then they say, ‘I don’t do salt anymore.’ I come across a lot more people that tell me that. Those folks are becoming more common, but there’s room for work,” he said.
Mark Keeley, a clinical dietitian and 34-year Cherokee Nation employee, prepares vegetables for a vegetarian minestrone soup at the tribe’s Food Distribution demo kitchen in Tahlequah. Keeley stresses that there are healthier ways to make foods, with the first step being to either limit or cut salt completely. STACIE BOSTON/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Namesake Nancy Bryan said the realization of her establishment took decades and several jobs in between, but when she finally opened in 2017 the effort was worth the wait.
“I had the desire to start a business at a young age, when I started baking with my nanny,” Bryan said. “She taught me how to make pie crusts when I was probably 11-years-old and from that time on, every time I went to visit her we would make pies. I would think, ‘someday I want to do this. I want to have my own business.’ And after working at Keys Public Schools for 32 years, I decided to retire and open up a little shop with pies.”
Everything Bryan makes, including pies and cakes, comes from family recipes.
“I made everything from a recipe, nothing in a box,” she said. “My mother also taught me more skills on making homemade cakes. So from that time on, growing up it was always a treat to me to make something for someone coming into my home.”
Cherokee Nation citizen Nancy Bryan opened Nancy’s Homemade Pies and Café in 2017 after years of baking and selling sweets out of her home. Her establishment is known for its pies, cakes and pumpkin rolls. STACIE GUTHRIE/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
“Our goal is to take the Cherokee, our tradition to the world…so that you can walk into any fine jewelry (store) and you will be able see Cherokee fine jewelry,” he said.
Stice said he takes traditional Cherokee jewelry pieces and brings them into the 21st century by using modern tools such as engravers.
“In using that technology, as the engraving machine, is the way that we can take technology and produce something very unique and customized and everything is handmade. I mean, printed on the engraver, but once I pull that off every keychain, every cuff will be a little bit different because it’s (crafted with) my hands,” he said.
Stice credits his grandmother, Pebble Ross, for his creativity. “My grandparents were always making things for a large family.” And family still plays a large part as Stice’s children and wife help design, create, test and market the jewelry.
Cherokee Nation citizen Greg Stice hammers a heart to harden it for it to become a necklace in the Cherokee Copper’s Valentine line. Stice and his family manage and create pieces for Cherokee Copper out of their Mounds home. STACIE GUTHRIE/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Nagel, an Eastern Band of Cherokee Indian citizen, has been playing the flute for five years. She was introduced to it while walking Fayetteville Square and coming across a man playing one. Listening to him play, she said she became mesmerized. Her mother bought her a flute and she began taking lessons from the same man, Jerry Doubting.
She said the flute just came “natural” to her.
“A lot of the tricks it took him years to learn, all came natural to me. He would be sitting there and telling me about a technique, and he would say ‘it’s OK, don’t get frustrated if you don’t get it on the first try.’ Well, I would get it on the first try,” she said.
Nagel has competed in eight flute competitions of all sizes. However, she said the biggest competition she’s won was the Musical Echo’s in Florida. “I was the first female and youngest competitor to ever win. I got a blue ribbon from them and a check. It was really cool.”
Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians citizen Gaby Nagel is a 15-year-old Native American flutist who has only been playing for five years, yet her talent has led her to play at events and competitions. KENLEA HENSON/CHEROKEE PHOENIX