Cherokee Culture Warriors Series - Jules Thornton Textile Artist
Preserving one's culture is not just a task but a sacred responsibility, and few people understand this better than Jules Thornton, a renowned Cherokee textile artist. As a Southeast Woodlands textile artist, Thornton carries on the legacy of her ancestors with a dedication that is both inspiring and moving.
At only 27, Jules has already achieved more than many could in a lifetime. She learned to sew at the tender age of three sitting on her grandmother’s lap. She has spent almost her entire life perfecting her craft. It's no surprise then, that her diligence has earned her numerous awards. A recipient of the 2020 7 Feathers Award for Culture, Thornton has also been honored with the prestigious 2021 NCAIED 40 Under 40 Award. However, it is not just the awards that define her. It is her deep connection to her Cherokee roots that sets her apart.
HOW IT BEGAN
Raised in a family where Cherokee blood runs through both sides, Thornton has always felt a strong affinity to her people and their traditions. She channels this connection into her art, painstakingly sewing and weaving textiles by hand that are reminiscent of the 18th century and earlier. Every stitch she sews, every pattern she weaves, is a homage to her ancestors and a gift to the future.
Her philosophy aligns with that of Wilma Mankiller, the first female chief of the Cherokee Nation, who believed in connecting seven generations into the past and future. Like Mankiller, Thornton emphasizes the necessity of keeping traditions alive not just for the present, but for the future generations as well. As she states, "If we do not preserve our Cherokee culture for the next seven generations, we will cease to exist as we know it."
THE NEXT GENERATION
And it is not just through her art that she attempts to accomplish this. Together with her partner, they are raising their daughter to understand and appreciate Cherokee culture. It is their hope to pass on this love and respect for their heritage to everyone in their life.
When asked about what she loves about Cherokee culture, she fondly answers, "I love how original and personal our culture is to our people." This simple statement encapsulates what Thornton represents - a deep, personal connection to her roots that she manifests through her award-winning art.
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