First American Art Magazine No. 22, Spring 2019 - Page 106

MEMORIAL AMANDA SWIMMER October 27, 1921–November 24, 2018 above Amanda Swimmer, Beloved Woman, at the Cherokee Voices Festival at the Museum of the Cherokee Indian, ca. 2015. Image courtesy of Museum of the Cherokee Indian, Cherokee, North Carolina. A M A N DA S W I M M E R , Hon. DHL, Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians citizen, was truly beloved for so many different reasons. She was admired for her skills at making pottery. Respected for her wisdom, she was endeared for her wit. But, above all, she was loved for her heart, which was full of kindness. The office of Beloved Woman or Man is bestowed upon an EBCI tribal member who has contributed in ways that have made a significant impact on the Cherokee people. The term has been used historically for more than two centuries. Swimmer was bestowed the title of Beloved Woman with the passage of Resolution Number 104 by Tribal Council on February 1, 2018. The resolution, submitted by Big Cove Representative Richard French, read in part, “Amanda Sequoyah Swimmer, a member of the Big Cove Community, has dedicated her life to the preservation of the Cherokee culture and language by demonstrating and teaching countless children and adults the art of pottery making, serving as a foster grandparent, sharing stories and knowledge of traditional Cherokee dances and practices to anyone willing to learn.” The passing of Swimmer at the age of 97 on Saturday, November 24, 2018, leaves the tribe with two living Cherokee Beloved Women. Amanda Swimmer spent her life studying, creating, and teaching historically accurate Cherokee pottery. She was one of the first people to deter- mine the uses and name the pottery styles. The creation of Cherokee pottery was all but decimated after the removal of many Cherokees to the West, but Swimmer spent more than 35 years demonstrating pottery making techniques in the Oconaluftee Indian Village. All of her pieces were created by hand, never using a wheel. For her work in pottery Swimmer received many awards, including the North Carolina Heritage Award in 1994 and the Mountain Heritage Award from Western Carolina University in 2009. Swimmer is also featured in documenta- ries and several books. “Amanda Swimmer embodied all the characteristics of what it means to be a Cherokee elder,” said Eastern Band Principal Chief Richard G. Sneed. “Amanda was a pillar for her family, the Big Cove Community and the EBCI. She will be sorely missed for her humor, kindness, and wisdom. My thoughts and prayers are with her family during this difficult time.” Mrs. Swimmer instilled in countless tribal and non-tribal members a great love of God and sense of duty to her fellow human beings. I am honored to have met Amanda Swimmer on several occasions. She was always kind hearted. An empty space is left on this earth with Mrs. Swimmer’s physical passing. But she has left behind her faith and wisdom, giving it to her large family of children and many grandchildren. When asked about her passing, Micah Swimmer, Mrs. Swimmer’s grandson, noted, “Right now, the only thing that rings in my head is something my brother Jake said when he learned of her passing. He said, ‘She finally opened her eyes and was happy with what she saw.’” 1 —Michole Eldred 1. Scott McKie Brings Plenty, “Beautiful Soul: Beloved Woman Amanda Swimmer Passes Away,” Cherokee One Feather (November 26, 2018), web. 104 | WWW.FIRSTAMERICANARTMAGAZINE.COM