ROSE, Okla. – Named a Cherokee National Treasure in 2022, Weynema Smith has dedicated her life to teaching the Cherokee language and sharing her knowledge of Cherokee culture with the next generation.
A new exhibit at the Saline Courthouse Museum is celebrating her efforts and accomplishments as a preserver of Cherokee lifeways.
“Weynema Smith: To Live a Cherokee Life” opens Jan. 9 and runs through May 11. The exhibit is the first of three slated for the museum in 2024, each emphasizing the vital link between Cherokee language and culture through personal experiences.
“Weynema’s efforts in cultural preservation will have lasting effects that will show for generations to come,” said Karen Shade-Lanier, Cherokee Nation Cultural Tourism exhibits manager. “Preservationists like her play a vital role in continuing the authentic Cherokee culture. I believe visitors of this exhibit will get a sense of who Weynema is through her work and how the Cherokee language created a unique imprint on her life.”
Although most known for her work with the Cherokee language, Smith’s dedication to cultural preservation goes beyond the Cherokee syllabary. This is showcased in the exhibit through stories, family photos and traditional artisan work, including basketry, beadwork and a tear dress.
The Saline Courthouse is the last of nine district courthouses built in the 1800s by the Cherokee Nation. After years of ongoing work to restore, preserve and modernize the structure, Cherokee Nation reopened the site in August 2020 as a cultural museum. The museum features historical and cultural exhibits relevant to the area and showcases different Cherokee artists throughout the year. It is located at 55870 S. 490 Road in Rose and open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
For more information on Cherokee Nation cultural sites and exhibits, please go to www.VisitCherokeeNation.com.