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  • Lani Hansen

Foreman finds familial comfort in crafting



UKB Tradition Keeper Marcella Foreman poses with a pair of leather and beaded infant booties that she designed herself. Her favorite craft projects are made with leather. PHOTO BRITTNEY BENNETT/GCN

TAHLEQUAH – When Marcella Foreman was told she had been selected as one of two Tradition Keepers for the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians in 2019, she immediately couldn’t help but think of her husband.

“It’s a very big honor for me to be nominated. I just wished my husband was here to see everything,” she said. “He used to always say, ‘you need to let me nominate you.’ I

told him no. I just feel good when somebody appreciates my work.”

Foreman’s husband was the late Russell VanBuskirk, a Tradition Keeper himself that

was recognized for his wood and antler carvings in 2008.

He was also a large part of Foreman’s inspiration to create her basketry and beadwork.

“Me and my husband were together about 25 years, so me and him, we pushed each other to do these things,” she explained. “Both of us would sit together late in the evenings when the phone wasn’t ringing or nobody was over. That’s when I liked to do my work. After I lost him, I lost interest. It took me a while to go again.”

Foreman has been doing traditional crafts and sharing her knowledge with others for over 40 years, both in her community at the Oaks Mission and as a former cultural presenter with the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma.

“The kids today, all they know is their phones and electronics,” said Foreman. “I just wish more kids would get into this kind of stuff because there’s a lot of talented kids that just don’t have that push in their lives to keep them involved in cultural things like this.”

Foreman also beads a variety of other items including keychains, coin purses, headbands and decorative combs, which she gifted to the tribe for a giveaway item. PHOTO BRITTNEY BENNETT/GCN

Foreman has also taught her daughter how to craft and the Foreman family as a whole has strong roots in cultural crafting.

Foreman’s mother Joan is a 2012 Tradition Keeper nominated for beadwork and her late aunt Mary was a master basket maker with CNO.

“Basketmaking I learned from my aunt Mary. She’s passed on, but she was the one that taught me how to gather the honeysuckle and it was a lot of work. I haven’t gathered any in a while,” Foreman said. “I just do traditional basketry and my daughter loves making the small ones. My mom, her favorite thing is beading keychains and lanyards.”

Foreman can take special orders, but much of the time her works are based upon what she has on hand at the moment.

“It’s been very therapeutic for me in the late evenings when I can’t sleep. I like doing it when I want to do it, not having to take orders,” she said. “I also never know what pattern’s going to go on anything until I finish it because I just start. I’ll pick out colors that I want to use and then just go from there, unless it’s a special and they want certain things on it. I also love working with leather. That’s usually where I make my money because I enjoy it.”

Those interested in purchasing Foreman’s beadwork or basketry can contact her at 918- 868-3273 or by visiting the John Hair Cultural Center and Museum Gift Shop.

Beadwork by Marcella Foreman. PHOTO BRITTNEY BENNETT/GCN



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