The Church Mouse Ministries, Inc.

Draft rendering for the Snowbird Cherokee Beloved Women Mural Project. Photo courtesy of Doreyl Ammons Cain

Draft rendering for the Snowbird Cherokee Beloved Women Mural Project. Photo courtesy of Doreyl Ammons Cain

This project will acknowledge and celebrate the achievements of the women of the Snowbird Cherokee community through a collaborative mural located in the town center of Robbinsville. Originating from a partnership between the Church Mouse Ministries, Inc., a local citizen-led Main Street Revitalization and Economic Development initiative known as REVVED UP, and the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians’ Junaluska Museum, this collaboration seeks to build relationships and trust across lines of difference while celebrating this under-told and important story. The Snowbird Cherokee are a community that is a part of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians and 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. To date, the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians have recognized three women from the Snowbird Community as Beloved Women of the Tribe and they will be featured on the mural. Leading the project’s creative team are Appalachian artists Doreyl Ammons Cain and TJ Holland. Ammons is an accomplished muralist, co-founder of “Catch the Spirit of Appalachia” and the Appalachian Mural Trail. Originating from Jackson County, she is rooted in the area, with a deep love for its people, culture and history. TJ Holland, Cultural Resources Supervisor for the Eastern Band of the Cherokee and the tribally owned Junaluska Museum in Graham County, acts as cultural advisor, historian, and liaison to the Snowbird Cherokee Community. This team 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 be central to painting the artwork. The team also will provide opportunities for direct descendants of the Snowbird Cherokee to paint the portraits of their ancestors, which will result in a 400 square foot narrative artwork.