Will West Long (Cherokee Tribe)

Published on March 7, 2011 by Aquarius

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Two Cherokee Carved Wooden Masks,
both by Will West Long

Will West Long (1870-1947) wearing a ceremonial dance mask. Long was born in the remote western North Carolina community of Big Cove. Raised in the traditions of the Cherokee, Long attended Hampton Institute in Virginia when he was 25 years old. He lived off the Qualla Boundary until 1904, when he returned to Big Cove, where he remained for the rest of his life. For almost 30 years, Long served on Tribal Council, where he was instrumental in establishing the Cherokee Indian Fair, among other accomplishments. He recorded his knowledge regarding Cherokee medicine, carving, music and dance, and language with the hope of preserving tradition. Long was a consultant for ethnologists, James Mooney, Frank Speck, and Franz Olbrechts. An accomplished mask maker, Long died in 1947.

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