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  • Lani Hansen

NSU students create new John Hair Museum table exhibit



John Waters, left, and Kayte Anton stand beside their finished table exhibit project for the John Hair Cultural Center and Museum. The two created the table together and it will be used to teach children the seven Keetoowah clans. COURTESY

TAHLEQUAH – The John Hair Cultural Center and Museum on the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians campus has opened a new table exhibit for children thanks to Northeastern State University students Kayte Anton and John Waters.

The table features the UKB seal and was built and designed by Waters. For her part, Anton stained and sealed the table before creating seven puzzle pieces designed to cover the inner star of the seal.

Each piece represents one of the seven Keetoowah clans through illustration and syllabary, with two accompanying worksheets explaining the clan names. Additionally, Anton also redesigned a Keetoowah History Activities booklet to be used for school groups.

Through these interactive elements, the table encourages children to grow in their understanding of Keetoowah history.

“Museums sometimes have a ‘stuffy’ perception but there is an incredible amount history contained within them that just needs to be presented slightly differently in order to engage curious young learners,” said Anton. “The table, puzzle pieces, and corresponding worksheets can work across multiple age levels, even adults.”

Waters, a junior Health and Human Behavior major from Dallas, Texas, worked on the table from home before bringing it back to the JHCCM.

“We went through a lot of different designs and determined what would be best for the museum to use long term and be interesting for kids,” said Waters. “I worked over spring break with my dad on the construction of the table and brought it back from Dallas for the finishing touches.”

The table features seven puzzle pieces that cover the inner star of the UKB seal and will teach the seven Keetoowah clans. COURTESY

Anton, a Tulsa native and graduate student in the NSU American Studies program, said she and Waters were encouraged to take on the table as a special project not for class credit after visiting the JHCCM.

“We visited the museum as part of Dr. King’s American West history class and learned about the history of the Keetoowahs. The entire class presented ideas to Ernestine Berry, the museum director, but we wanted to go a step further and actually present her with a finished exhibit for the opening of the new ‘Missing Pieces’ exhibit at the museum,” said Anton. “Dr. King fully encouraged us to run with our ideas. It’s been a great experience working with Ernestine to bring the vision to life.”

The table made its debut during the opening night of the new JHCCM exhibit, “Missing Pieces: Rediscovering Keetoowah Law, Language, Literature.”

To see the table, the public can visit the JHCCM at 18627 W. Keetoowah Circle in Tahlequah, Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.



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