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24 March 2008

JSU's Kaleidoscope Arts Festival Exhibit Currently on Display at Berman Museum of Natural History

David Ford of the Berman Museum of World History looks at a copy of a Cherokee newspaper on display. The museum will host a Cherokee exhibit through the end of the month. Photo: Stephen Gross/The Anniston Star

By Dan Whisenhunt
Star Staff Writer

Reprinted here in its entirety.

History on Display: Berman Museum Hosts Cherokee Exhibit

The early 19th century was one of turmoil for American Indians, particularly the Cherokee tribe in their capital of New Echota, in what is now Georgia.

Shortly before the infamous "trail of tears" in 1838, a Cherokee newspaper called the Cherokee Phoenix spoke to its readers in their own alphabet and in English. A Berman Museum of Natural History exhibit, which ends March 31, gives museum visitors a view of the newspaper and of the culture that created it.

North Carolina artist Frank Brannon created the exhibit based on his work on his master's project at the University of Alabama, where he studied in the book arts program. The exhibit is part of Jacksonville State University's Kaleidoscope arts festival.

Karen Henricks, a JSU art professor, said the newspaper is a "regional topic of interest." Calhoun County is one of the border lands of the former Cherokee nation. Brannon said 11,000 Alabamians claim Cherokee heritage.

Henricks said the exhibit dispels modern stereotypes about American Indian cultures.

"I've always been amazed at the generalized view people have of Native Americans," she said.

Though a version of the Cherokee Phoenix printed in Oklahoma exists today, the newspaper of the 19th century printed 300 to 400 copies a week "when they had their ink and the Americans weren't trying to run them off," Brannon said.

Brannon said he wants people to come away from the exhibit with the idea of an intellectual, civilized culture.

"It's an opportunity for one to think of a Native American group of people in a very different way I think than the stereotypes that we're generally given," he said.

David Ford, business development coordinator for the museum, said visitors are interested in the exhibit, particularly those with American Indian heritage.

"I think this has been a real plus for the museum to have it," he said.

About Dan Whisenhunt

Dan Whisenhunt covers K-12 schools and higher education for The Star.

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