Exhibition

  • ᎠᏂᎩᏚᏩᎩ / Anigaduwagi / People of Creator’s Land
    Constance Owl
    Curator
    David Rumsey Map Center, Stanford Libraries, Stanford
    Feb 11, 2022 to Jun 15, 2022
    Mountain Heritage Center, Western Carolina University, Cullowhee
    Sep 15, 2022 to Dec 15, 2022
  • GRANTEE
    Constance Owl
    GRANT YEAR
    2021

"John Owl and Family at Home," 1908. Photograph, 8 x 6.5 in. Courtesy Owl Family. Photo: Unknown

Mapping practices have traditionally erased or ignored the Cherokee people, their language, and their conceptions of land and place. This exhibition examines how these documents can nevertheless be mined and read within an indigenous framework to trace Cherokee placemaking, unearthing the ways the tribe has created, maintained, and reclaimed Cherokee spaces and landscapes throughout time. Through an indigenous reading of settlement patterns, the exhibition explores how Cherokee notions of sacred stewardship, belonging, and community have been used in placemaking, beginning with the precolonial landscape, through the aftermath of the removal crisis of the 1830s, and including today. To present the information in a way that both honors and centers the Cherokee worldview, and to highlight the way language, place names, and maps were and continue to be used as tools of power, the exhibition is presented in the Cherokee language with full English translation.

Constance Owl, a member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, is an admissions counselor at Stanford University and liaison to the Native community on campus. She received a master’s degree in history, with a concentration in Cherokee studies, from Western Carolina University and a bachelor’s in Native American studies from Stanford University. Her research explores the intersection of Cherokee language use and community-building, specifically during the removal period of the 1830s. Her most recent work examined how Cherokee leaders used the language within the Cherokee Phoenix newspaper to inform and guide their community during their fight against forced removal. She assisted on the Tsalagi Uweti Traditional Landscape Mapping Project, which used ArcGIS mapping to create a platform for the Cherokee community to interact with oral histories positioned within their landscape. As an undergraduate, Owl established both a Cherokee Language course and Cherokee language Alternative Spring Break through Stanford.