This week we got an email on our website. They had a couple of questions that they wanted answers to.
We thought they were such good questions that you might want to know the answer too.
The questions were - What encouraged you to make jewelry and what percent indian are you?
Here is our response -
Thanks for your email.
I can assure you that everyone who makes our jewelry is card carrying Cherokee citizen AND they happen to be award winning Cherokee artists.
In order to participate in any Native American Art Show or to sell Native American made products we have to comply with the Indian Arts and Craft Act .
You can read more about it by clicking the link.
To sum it up the Indian Arts and Craft Act states that It is illegal to offer or display for sale, or sell, any art or craft product in a manner that falsely suggests it is Indian produced, an Indian product, or the product of a particular Indian or Indian tribe or Indian arts and crafts organization, resident within the United States. This act also allows fines of up to $250,000 per person or $1,000,000 per business and up to 5 years of jail time.
Needless to say we take Indian Arts and Craft Board Act very seriously and would never jeopardize our family's livelihood.
You see, Cherokee Copper is a family business in the true sense.
What started as a small project for Lisa,has become the largest Cherokee jewelry business with designs that are collected and highly sought after.
It wasn't easy to build this business.
You asked what encouraged us to sell jewelry.
The answer is, we didn't always sell the jewelry.
Greg started by giving away the jewelry.
You see, when Greg first started making jewelry he would donate the pieces to local fundraisers or enter them into Cherokee art shows, where they would sell it for him and he would win prizes.
Greg in 2018 winning a prize at the Cherokee Holiday Art Show
Every piece you see on our website is still handmade by our family.
We design and fabricate it all at our home studio.
In 2015, Lisa decided to start selling the jewelry on Etsy and later on our own website.
She didn't expect to sell things right away but within two days we had our first orders.
Our packaging and unboxing experience for our customers has come a long way.
Why did Greg start making jewelry?
Greg started making jewelry as a way to connect to his past and his children.
He wanted an art that he could practice in the house and not in the barn, like woodworking.
He wanted a traditional craft he could teach his children.
He dabbled in other traditional artforms, such as pottery, weaving and moccasin making but there was just something about jewelry that he really connected to.
Maybe it was a skill to master or maybe It was that he could hammer copper and turn into something beautiful?
Making and selling authentic Cherokee made jewelry allows us to connect to Cherokee culture and to educate and help others connect to Cherokee culture in a way that is authentic, and if we don't make it who will?
If we don't keep the tradition of Cherokee coppersmithing alive, who will?
That is why we are passing down the skills to not only the next generation but teaching others to make copper jewelry.
You don't have to buy from our website, you can find us in stores across the country.
Check out all the museums and cultural centers who carry our jewelry.
You can find them here
As to your question about what percent Indian we are, the answer is we are Cherokee not Indian.
Indians come from the subcontinent of India. I think your question is what blood quantum are we?
Cherokee citizenship does not rely on blood quantum for membership.
Rather, it traces back to an ancestor on the Dawes roll.
This is the only way to claim Cherokee citizenship.
Let us know below if you have any questions.