The Plants Are Our Allies: New Work by Seven Cherokee Artists


Shawna Cain
Cherokee Nation • Stilwell OK • designated Cherokee National Living Treasure
river cane, white oak, hickory, and buck brush basketry

Shawna Morton Cain is a graduate student at the University of Arkansas and an enrolled member of the Cherokee Nation. Daughter of Patsy Eads Morton, Cherokee Nation tribal councilwoman for 12 years and Neil Morton, director of the Cherokee Nation Education Department, Shawna comes from a family of Cherokee activists and educators. A fourth generation Oklahoma Cherokee residing within the Old Flint District of the Cherokee Nation since their forced removal in 1839, Shawna is currently working with Oklahoma Cherokees as a “Living Treasure”—traditional artisan, cultural resource liaison, educator and advocate of ecological and environmental issues that directly concern the tribal government and local Cherokees. Her course of study focuses on the inclusion of the Native perspective as one that requires equivalent input and analyses from Native and Western scholarship. Shawna’s familiarity and interaction with rural Cherokees and specific cultural practices tied closely to native interaction with the land and environment has proven core to her interests in ethno-history, archaeology, ethno-ecology and ethno-biology. Her current research funded by the American Philosophical Society and the Environmental Protection Agency involves studying the cultural practices and on-going interaction between rural Cherokees and their woodland environment as well as the ecological and environmental impacts of modern society upon indigenous peoples, specifically rurally isolated and marginalized Cherokees.




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