, an enrolled Cherokee, is in demand as an artist, teacher, demonstrator, and lecturer.
award winning rivercane and white oak baskets, naturally dyed, are sought after.
As a weaver and a historian of Cherokee basket traditions. he
is steeped in knowledge about how to gather and prepare plants for weaving and for making dyes.
Wanting to bring back twill basketry to Oklahoma tribal members, he
began creating and teaching patterns using pre removal and post removal symbols.
He is also a teacher with Oklahoma Native American Basketweavers Association.
This organization is active in restoring basketry traditions to the tribes removed to Oklahoma and promoting cultural diversity.
Burl has taught rivercane processing the last three years at the Annual Rivercane Festival.
Farm Memories by Burl
Burl Ford is a member of the Cherokee Nation.
father's mother was part Cherokee.
maiden name was Walkingstick.
The Walkingsticks were part of the old settler group of Cherokees who came west before the trail of tears.
They were a prominent family in early Adair County, Oklahoma.
One of them was a sheriff of the Goingsnake District
when the Zeke Proctor trial was being held at the Old Whitmire schoolhouse near Christi where Burl lives today.
The family thinks the sheriff was one of about nine wounded in the shootout between the Becks and the Proctors the day of the trial.
visited Cherokee, N. C. a few years ago and was "surprised to see some of the basketweavers there were Walkingsticks.
writes "I grew up on a farm south of Stilwell, Oklahoma, in a community called Greasy.
About 90% of the population of that area was Cherokee.
I come from a family of nine, five boys and four girls.
Burl attended grade school at Greasy and high school at Cave Springs.
said that he
was always fascinated by nature.
loved all of the different sights and sounds of the outdoors.
Northeast Oklahoma, where he
grew up, is heavily forrested with a large variety of wildlife.
family farmed for a living, he
gained many skills still useful today.
wrote "my parents farmed for a living and raised crops such as strawberries and beans.
This editor met Burl
at the Cherokee Heritage Center
at Park Hill, OK, several years ago.
I speak often of my meeting that day with Burl
and Betty Frogg and other Cherokee basketweavers.
came to be an accomplished basketweaver and leader in basketry renewal in the Cherokee communities is an important story to ONABA
, and I think, to the Cherokee Nation
It was a glorious summer day in Oklahoma with a typical breeze to cool us from the summer heat.
Several ONABA members traveled to the Cherokee Heritage Center
from areas around the state with one member traveling from Wichita, KS.
We wanted to meet Burl
and the other Native basketweavers who had learned twill basket weaving and teaching this technique to others.
plans to learn more about selecting trees and splitting the wood for baskets, particularly white oak baskets.
looks forward to Burl
retiring soon and helping members learn to identify trees and to split the wood as our ancestors from the SE did when they were relocated to Oklahoma.
Many baskets in collections and museums were made by Oklahoma Natives from woods of hickory, oak and willow.
River Cane Splitting
, another skill Burl
can offer is to continue teaching twill basketry; creating new designs and improving his
skills and our members' skills in rivercane selection, harvesting, processing and weaving.
That fine summer day some of us traveled to meet with Burl
was the first time many hiked across a field near the Illinois river to enter a large rivercane grove.
After we cut the cane and brought it back to the Heritage Center
showed us how he
split the cane.
That day instilled in several of us the passion to make rivercane baskets.
has transplanted rivercane on his
own land for future use.
Teaching Twill Basketry
Other contributions Burl
has made in his
communities has been working with 4-H students teaching woodworking skills.
This editor's beginnings with rivercane begin about the same time Burl
began weaving twill basket designs.
wrote "around 1993, as school near where I live, Skelly, got an after school grant to do basketweaving.
Look for Burl
at the Cherokee Holiday during the Labor Day weekend with well known weavers and basketweaving teachers, Betty Frogg and her sister, Barbara Keen.