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DESCRIPTIONFrom the pages of Dreamcatcher Magazine: Artist Shan Goshorn by Heather Ahtone.
Also, today there are rules for safety reasons, no tackling below the waist of the ball carrier, in order to avoid leg and ankle injury. No cleats, they prefer to play bare-footed in the summertime and wear light running shoes at other times. We play 15 minute quarters with a break at half after 2 quarters. In the old days, the final score was predetermined or set prior to the game. For instance, if they decided the game would be won at 100 points, they would play for several days or until the team scored 100 points. Each striking of the goalpost with the ball equates to 1 point. Generally, most games were set at 20 points. Also, in Choctaw Stickball, the goalposts were at each end of the playing field and one team had to advance the ball to the opponent’s goal. The defense on the opposing team could tackle the player with the ball; therefore, it took more skill and maneuvering to score a point. The same strategy applies today.
Is your family still involved with Choctaw Stickball? I have been in charge of presenting a stickball exhibition game at theChoctaw Nation Labor Day Festival since 1976. I have not missed a year. Now, my two sons, Bryon Mahli Billy age 37, and Jimmy Chilita Billy age 31, have grown up playing
the game as well as making the kapucha or stickball sticks. They have involved their children in playing the Choctaw stickball game as well as instructing others to play and making stickball sticks and ball.
My oldest grandson, Brenner Billy, is 18 years old and a freshman at the University of Central Oklahoma in Edmond, Oklahoma. He continues to perpetuate the stickball game by incorporating it as an on-campus activity. He has played in many stickball games in Oklahoma and Mississippi. The younger grandsons, Miko, age 9, Trayvian, age 10 and Logan Billy, age 5, currently play in age appropriate stickball games.
Curtis Billy grew up in Broken Bow, Oklahoma with six siblings and his parents, Ed and Cynthia Billy. Under his leadership, Choctaw youth have been playing Choctaw stickball at Broken Bow High School, Inter-tribal games, and in the Labor Day Festival, Tushkahoma, Oklahoma with an exhibition game on the Capitol Lawn since 1977. That same year, the Choctaws won the title in a Five Civilized Tribes Tournament. Curtis is currently employed with the Choctaw Nation Language Department. He teaches Choctaw Language and Culture, and Choctaw History at Southeastern Oklahoma State University.
Artist Shan Goshorn
Images Courtesy Shan Goshorn
>SHAN GOSHORN’S SINGING BASKETS>by heather ahtone>>
T ulsa resident Shan Goshorn is having a once in a lifetime kind of year. Goshorn has been
awarded one of the five prestigious 2013 Eiteljorg Contemporary Art Fellowships, she received three awards at the 2013 Annual Heard Market, she’s getting ready to travel to the National Museum of the American Indian on a Smithsonian Artist Research Fellowship and a 2013 SWAIA Discovery Fellowship that includes a cash award and a premier location for the annual Santa Fe Indian Market. The Eiteljorg Fellowship includes an unrestricted cash award and an exhibition at the museum, scheduled to open in November later this year. Like all great things, it is the payoff of a great deal of hard work. Goshorn, who is a member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians in North Carolina, has been a professional artist for over thirty years. Her career shifted in 2008 when she began incorporating her photography with texts printed on paper and weaving them into Cherokee basket forms. Her early baskets were immediately collected by and for national museums. More importantly, the public response to the baskets was deeply emotional and affected Goshorn’s interest in exploring what potential they held. At the Red Earth Festival in 2010, one elderly Kiowa woman was moved to tears in the booth upon seeing a coffin-shaped basket that was woven with the faces of the children who had attended the Carlisle Indian School in 1912. The baskets have been met with that kind of emotional response wherever they have been exhibited and it has invigorated Goshorn’s interest in continuing to weave them. One of the baskets that will be exhibited in the Eiteljorg Museum’s Fellowship exhibition is “Cherokee Burden Basket: Singing a Song for Balance.” Just over twenty-three inches high, the basket is woven in the traditional form of a Cherokee burden basket. The walls are constructed from a group of documents
were built into carefully organized bands wrapping around the shifting volume. The overall form creates a dark hollow symbolically representing the empty relationship that tribes had to the new place. Jackson and his supporters could not have imagined, if they had so chosen, the burden they had created for tribes to reestablish themselves in the new spaces. >
Goshorn, who understands that these traditions can still be maintained even against oppression,
wove a strand of paper dyed in the four sacred colors of the Cherokee into each of the sides of the baskets to mark the four directions. These sacred colors are overprinted with the Cherokee morning and evening songs. Goshorn’s simplistic incorporation of the directional colors subtly recognizes that the larger orders of the universe are not subject to human interference. As the sun still rises, Native people still rise to pray to the east and have found a way to bring their traditions with them, even into the twenty-first century. Goshorn described, “I believe that these traditional ways help to center us in the midst of all this oppression.” Tribes that call Oklahoma “home” have found a way to carry that burden and set roots that are now almost two centuries deep. As the title speaks to it, the basket is a contemporary work of art that serves to communicate that despite what burdens that tribes have brought with them into our present time and their current homes, the traditions found in the songs and the traditional arts serve to bring them into that harmonic place where being Cherokee, and Oklahoma, and American are not mutually exclusive nor necessarily antagonistic. Goshorn’s year is not over yet, and with national events still yet to take place this fall, she can only sit back and enjoy whatever may come. For those who cannot wait until the next time she exhibits locally she can be contacted at her website for more information:http://www.shangoshorn.com. >Heather Ahtone (Choctaw/Chickasaw) is the James T. Bialac Assistant Curator of Native American and Non-Western Art at the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art at the University of Oklahoma.
printed on warm, earthy brown tones that include: the Indian Removal Act of 1830, the Treaty of New Echota that removed Cherokee people from their homelands, Colonel Richard Pratt’s speech from which we get the “Kill the Indian, Save the Man” colloquialism, a list of high statistics about Domestic Violence in Indian Country, images of bottles of alcohol a list of stereotypical references and commercial products that feature American Indians, and the New Testament translated in Cherokee. These documents, Goshorn explained, “are many things that have been a burden to Cherokee people and that have separated and removed us from our homelands and the traditions.”
The basket metaphorically represents the burden that tribes had to carry with them as they removed their cultures into a foreign place. The mouth of the form at the top is wide and circular. The sides follow that same openness down to neck that steps inward pulling the sides in closer at the lower half, and wind down into a square bottom. Goshorn used the text documents, spliced and prepared so that each warp carries distinct text, as a visual reminder the roles each has contributed to the contemporary Cherokee identity. The documents are each a distinct color and
Cherokee Burden Basket: Singing A Song For Balance
Shan Goshorn, 2012
>This basket is created in the shape of a traditional Cherokee
Burden basket. Historically, this basket would have a leather or
cloth strap woven under the rim, to support to weight of a heavy
load such as corn, nuts, bedding or firewood. The basket would be
worn on the back with the straps looped around the shoulders or
arms, similar to a backpack.
The splints are printed with treaties, statistics and other
relevant texts from a variety of soures. The splints on the interior
of this basket were painted in deep muted colors to emphasize
the darkness of these burdens to Indian people. A single splint
centering each side was painted red, blue, white and black,
symbolizing the four sacred colors and directions to the Cherokee.