September 27, 2017
BLAIRSVILLE, Ga. — Cherokee Nation Tribal Council Deputy Speaker Victoria Vazquez was a featured speaker for the unveiling of a bronze statue memorial created by Cherokee artist Daniel HorseChief and placed on display in Union County, Georgia.
The two-day event Sept. 21-22 was a joint effort between the We Are Still Here Tri-State Native American Initiative and tribal nations, including the Cherokee Nation, United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians, Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians and Muscogee (Creek) Nation.
“Before the Indian Removal Act, this area was the home of our Cherokee ancestors,” Vazquez said. “Cherokee Nation will always play a role in telling our story, which ensures it is preserved, it is told accurately and it is passed down to future generations. That’s important to us as Cherokee people, and it always has been. Our history in the Southeast is a critical part of America’s history. From our great success there as society builders to the darkest chapters of the Trail of Tears, our tribal history is intertwined with the history of this country and multiple states, including Georgia, Tennessee, the Carolinas and, now, Oklahoma.”
The We Are Still Here Committee commissioned HorseChief, a Pawnee-Cherokee from Sallisaw, Oklahoma, to cast the 10-foot bronze statue of a Native American stickball player. The statue is titled “Transcendence” and is on display in Meeks Park just outside Blairsville, a mountain town in northern Georgia.
“To me, the event in Blairsville was like a seed finally coming to life after it has been buried dormant for so long,” HorseChief said. “We were invited back after nearly 200 years to the home we left behind, and it was time for this event to happen. The sculpture ‘Transcendence’ represented overcoming the bittersweet; it represents taking control of our own history and sharing that story with others, especially since it took part in their front and back yards. It is time to acknowledge the actual story of our shared history, and it is time to move forward together after that is done. We are still here, and we are still making a difference in this world.”
HorseChief’s statue is meant to serve as a reminder of the rich Native American roots in the tri-state communities of Georgia, Tennessee and North Carolina.