➳ over 60 years of age;
➳ tribal member in good standing for 5 years;
➳ active supporter of the tribe; and
➳ approved by the tribal council.
The Elders' Council serves in an advisory capacity to the tribal council and other tribal groups.
We welcome our newest members: Gene News Carrier Durham and Patsy Dancing Wolf Durham.
Current Elders' Council are:
Effie Louise Speaks Her Mind Altman
Johnnie Red Wolf Blank
Patricia Rosebud Clement (passed July 1, 2012)
Lillian Basket Weaver Bryant Eller
I am Lillian Ollie Bell Bryant Eller, Basket Weaver. I was born August 18, 1931 in the Oconee Creek Community at home. I was named Basket Weaver because as a child I learned to make baskets. I gathered river cane from the river banks in Cherokee NC. My siblings and I made our own Easter baskets. Working with my hands, I made aprons, pot holders, and bonnets. I cut the patterns from newspapers. Later on I made dresses and bonnets for my grandchildren.
My great-grandmother was Amanda Green who was full-blooded from Tulsa OK; she was married to Jacob Bryant. My grandmother was Missouri Harris, who was full-blooded from Cherokee NC. Terrell Kirksey Bryant, the father of Jacob Bryant, is buried with his wife, Rebecca, at Issaqueena Falls.
When I was very young my father passed away, and my mother married my dad’s brother. I remember my stepdad (my uncle) talking about being “Indian.” He moved his family to Cherokee NC to find a job. I remember playing with Cherokee children and thinking they were family. When he couldn’t find a job, we moved back to Oconee County. My family still went back to Cherokee from time to time; that is where I first gathered river cane to make baskets. I remember as a child of eight/nine placing flowers on families’ graves who were Cherokee Indians.
As a child I wore braids. When I got older, I braided my hair and wrapped the braids around my head. Recently, my hair got so long, I was able to braid again. My sister, Lucille, looked “Indian;” I looked more like my “white” ancestors. However, I have the Cherokee temper! I got Diabetes at 40 years of age but I kept it under control by diet.
I dropped out of high school but later on I got my GED. I had three children and went to DSS to get help; they helped me get my GED and I trained to be a nurse’s aide. I worked at Easley Baptist Hospital till my husband had health issues, and I needed to care for him. I still had the caring spirit and visited my neighbors; I even helped give insulin shots to some of them.
I have six children, 20 grandchildren, 34 great-grandchildren, and 20 great-great-grandchildren. I talk to all my family about being Indian. I am proud of my heritage and want my family to feel the same. I want my family to think of themselves as Indian.
I want the youth of our tribe to know how important education is. Even though there might be some setbacks, you don’t give up. You find people who can help you and do whatever needs to be done to get your diploma or GED. All our youth should be taught about their Cherokee history. By being proud of our ancestry we show how important it is to our children.
Linda Fire Ant Woman Hanley
My name is Linda Gail Watson Hanley. I was born on June 22, 1945 in Greenville, South Carolina. My Cherokee name is Fire Ant Woman. I believe my name shows my “protective” nature of my Chief. Several years ago when someone threatened my Chief, I called that person and told him I would protect my Chief from everyone. I told him anyone who would hurt my Chief would have to deal with me!
My father, Herbert Bailey Watson (Night Walker), my grandmother, Carrie Caldoni Crowe, my grandfather, John Wright Watson, and seven uncles passed on the Cherokee traditions as they had been taught by their family members. My dad would take me aside and teach me the Cherokee way. He taught me what was really going on in the world. He taught me the responsibilities of being a woman, and how women are treated in a tribe. I was taught to respect men, and that children were treated differently from adults. My dad never spanked me; he was afraid he would hurt me. My dad left the spanking to my mom. Raising me was a family affair. I was taught how to survive by planting a garden and preserving food. My cousin taught me the plants that would heal cuts.
As a little girl my mom tried to raise me as a little girl should be raised. But I didn’t like dolls; I always wanted to go hunting with the men. They didn’t like to take me hunting because they thought I might get hurt. My mother strongly objected to taking me hunting. One day Granddaddy told my mom that they would take me hunting. In the woods the men told me to sit down on a log and count. After finishing counting I was told to find them. It was getting dark as I finished counting. I looked around and couldn’t find anyone. I started to cry and stomp my foot. After crying a bit, I looked for a tree. Finding one I searched for moss. I used the location of the moss as a guide to find my way home. When I got home, there were the men sitting at the kitchen table. They told my mom never to keep me from hunting again. I was treated more like a boy that a girl. My daddy, my granddaddy, and my uncles taught me how to skin small animals.
One of the traditions that my family did every year was to adopt a family at Christmas time. We would give gifts to the family. My daddy taught us by his actions to help our neighbors. He gave them money when needed and took care of the sick people. This behavior was similar to how Cherokees took care of each other in a tribal unit.
When I went to school, the children would treat me differently when they found out I was Cherokee. They didn’t want to play with me. Later on when I married, my husband would not acknowledge my Cherokee ancestry. It hurt me very much. In the late 1990s when I got a job, the supervisors found out I was Cherokee. They wouldn’t let me eat lunch with the rest of the workforce. I had to eat at my desk. I was told not to talk about my Cherokee background. It was tough but I learned to keep to myself.
At home I taught my daughter and other relatives all that I had learned through my daddy, my grandfather and grandmother, and my uncles. I told them the history of the Cherokee People. I passed on how to plant a garden and how to preserve food.
I have been blessed with some special abilities. I can work with any animal; they feel comfortable with me. I have never been bitten by a dog or cat, and I have handled quite a few in my life. I inherited the ability to fight demons. My great grandfather could foresee future events and foretell future happenings.
What I would like to tell our children: that Native People were here first; that they almost got destroyed by our government; and be suspicious of our government. I would tell the young people to be proud of being Cherokee and learn all you can about your heritage. Learn and study in school so no one can take advantage of you.
When I found out that our tribe was recognized by the State of South Carolina as a “tribe,” I shouted “Thank God, finally!” It was the happiest day of my life!
Jim Black Bear Howell
Red Shirt Warrior Society
Martha Sunflower Howell (passed on April 22, 2016)
Harold Lone Wolf Norwood, Elder Council's Chairperson
Tribal Council Member
Red Shirt Warrior Society
Dolores Morning Star Parker(Posthumously)
James Blue Turtle Vinson
(This is an excerpt from our Petition for State Recognition, 2014.)
James N. Vinson, descendant of Terrell Kirksey Bryant states in his affidavit the following:
As I grew up I recall that the Bryant family and other Cherokees tended to stay, work, and live in close proximately. I don’t know why they did but they did. A lot of them married their first cousins.
I suppose that during those years I was one of the community leaders, because for many years I organized things for the family including the family reunions. We called them reunions but many people kin and not would come to them.
In 1970 the Spiritual Church of God was built in Abbeville, SC. This Church was built on land purchased through a bank load made to member James N. Vinson. Members of the community repaid the loan and today the Church is flourishing.
This is an affidavit of the daughter of Mr. Vinson, Delores Jean Vinson, descendant of Terrell Kirksey Bryant. She has memories about the Church and her father’s actions as a Cherokee leader during his 91 years of life. The following was taken from her affidavit:
Most of them know that he is Cherokee, Indian community leader, and they come to him for advice and decisions.
We have had gatherings (reunions) since I was a child and I am 61 years old. We had them once a year or so and that would have started in the year of 1958.
My father is always the person to organize it and he even starts it when it begins. He talks about those that died during the recent past and those that are sick and ailing and he talked about fundraisers like selling cook books, and even setting the date and place for the next gathering.
During those gatherings we talked about the Cherokees, their business, membership, history, and we even listen to and tell stories about daddy’s mother and stories about our heritage.
Eddy Two Hearts Worthy (Passed June 26, 2016)
Former Tribal Council Member
War Chief (ex officio)
Red Shirt Warrior Society