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Chickasaw jewelry artist preps exotic items for festival

 

"Treaty," a bolo tie featuring a part of The Treaty of Hopewell, proved to be a popular item for Tabor during the 2018 Artesian Arts Festival. She is planning on displaying many other eclectic works and engaging art lovers with her Native American art May 25 in Sulphur.

In 2018, Tulsa artist E. Dee Tabor was aware her bolo tie creation titled "Treaty" could well be the most provocative piece displayed at the Artesian Arts Festival.

Tabor encapsulated a small bit of a Chickasaw-U.S. government treaty in its design.

"I found the treaty of 1786 (historically the Treaty of Hopewell) and printed it. I cut a piece out of that and placed it behind double refractive calcite. The calcite displays the words of the treaty but distorts them. It is like seeing double," Tabor said.

"Treaty" sold last year, kicking off 2018 into a productive season for the artist.

"It was a very elaborate piece and took many 12-hour days to finish," Tabor said of "Treaty."

At the top of the calcite-distorted treaty was a peace pipe. A war club adorned the bottom of the circular shield, and a silver warrior shield served as the bolo's background.

Etched on the shield are the moon, stars, Mississippi River and the treaty date. The treaty defined Chickasaw Nation boundaries in the Homeland and vowed peace and friendship between the tribe and the fledgling U.S. government.

For the upcoming arts festival, Tabor is dedicating herself to work in many artistic mediums to produce jewelry that will appeal to thousands of art lovers. She is producing exotic-material jewelry she hopes will excite patrons who will venture to Sulphur May 25.

From earrings, necklaces, bracelets and one-of-a-kind creations, Tabor is thrilled to be an exhibitor as the show enters its fifth year. It is one of the fastest growing Native American arts festivals nationally.

RETIREMENT BLAHS

Tabor is retired, having spent more than 30 years in classrooms teaching kindergarten to higher education.

"I hated retirement," she said with a laugh. "I just was not happy. I wasn't doing enough. I was volunteering and doing odds and ends. So, I returned to the classroom to learn gerontology at Tulsa University."

Upon earning her degree, the entrepreneur in Tabor emerged. She started Senior Transitions which she owned 14 years. The whole time, she admits, she was dreaming of making jewelry. She attended workshop sessions at Firehouse Arts Center, a Norman, Oklahoma, adult training and arts education facility.

Owning and managing Senior Transitions required 24/7 dedication. In July 2016, she sold the business and opened Tabor Designs a month later.

Tabor had created fine jewelry for years. The pieces were gifted to her daughters, sisters and other family members. She did not go public with her creations until the Chickasaw Nation reached out to her to participate in the 2016 Southeastern Arts Show and Market (SEASAM), the premiere artist venue for the Chickasaw Nation Annual Meeting and Festival.

"It was my first juried show. It was the first time my creations were seen by the general public.

"I enjoyed meeting people and the positive vibe. I felt like I had come home," Tabor said of her debut. "I thought, 'This is who I am. This is what I need to be doing. This is fabulous.'"

Tabor said SEASAM demonstrated her creations were appreciated. "I do not measure success merely in dollars. There are greater factors I consider. SEASAM showed me my work was good," she said.

FINDING HERSELF

Unfortunately, learning of her Chickasaw roots involved tragedy.

Her family was stationed in San Antonio, Texas, when her father, Marvin, was killed in a military plane crash. She was 4.

The family moved to Durant to be near his relatives. Her father's ancestors attended Bloomfield Academy, a Chickasaw school for females located in Achille, Oklahoma. It was moved in the 1930s to Ardmore as a coed facility and later became Carter Seminary.

Tabor's family remained in Durant. She graduated from Durant High School and attended Southeastern State University and Oklahoma State University.

She remembers seeing copies of the "Chickasaw Times" at an aunt's home. It wasn't until she became an adult that Tabor's search shed light on ancestors who signed the Dawes Commission Rolls for land allotments, thus making her eligible for tribal citizenship.

"I knew as a child I was Native American but didn't have all the answers," Tabor recalled.

About The Artesian Arts Festival

Hosted by the Chickasaw Nation at the Artesian Plaza, more than 100 esteemed artists representing 25 Native American tribes throughout the United States and Canada will be featured during the Artesian Arts Festival, Saturday, May 25. The Artesian Plaza is located adjacent to the Artesian Hotel and Spa, 1001 W. First St. Festivities begin at 10 a.m. and end at 6 p.m.

For more information, contact the Chickasaw Nation Arts & Humanities Division at (580) 272-5520, or by email at ArtistInfo@Chickasaw.net.

 

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