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TAHLEQUAH — The Cherokee Nation recently celebrated the opening of its new Gallery Shop, a gift shop inside the Cort Mall in downtown Tahlequah that offers everything from handmade coffee mugs and beaded earrings to wall décor in the Cherokee syllabary made by Native artists.

The Gallery Shop, at 215 S. Muskogee Ave., houses more than a dozen Cherokee artists’ work. It’s located directly across from the Spider Gallery.

Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker, Cherokee Nation Commerce leaders and Tahlequah Chamber of Commerce members cut a ribbon during a grand opening ceremony earlier this month.

“Everything displayed in the Spider Gallery is unique,” said Donna Tinnin, the tribe’s community tourism manager. “We noticed people would do a lot of looking at the Cherokee art pieces but often weren’t purchasing anything. So, we wanted to offer people the opportunity to purchase something that was still handcrafted by Cherokee artists, but smaller items that may be more adequate for their budget.”

Hand-beaded jewelry, postcard prints, miniature gourd turtles, graphic T-shirts, commercial reed baskets and handmade coffee mugs that range in price from $10 to $100 are just a few items available at the Gallery Shop.

Artists’ work featured in the Spider Gallery goes through a selective screening process. The Gallery Shop allows more Native artists to display their work in a less rigorous way.

Matthew Anderson, 45, is a self-taught artist from Tahlequah. The Cherokee Nation citizen has gourds and pottery in the Spider Gallery and has handmade coffee mugs for sale in the Gallery Shop to appeal to a wider array of shoppers.

“Larger pieces of art take longer to produce, which makes them more of a high-end piece,” said Anderson. “When artists start moving things in a new retail environment, everything sells more quickly, giving them more of an opportunity to make and sell more items.”

Cherokee Nation Commerce oversees the Gallery Shop, Spider Gallery and Kawi Café, all located inside the Cort Mall, which is owned by the Cherokee Nation. The department also has a Small Business Assistance Center that helps entrepreneurs with loans and Cherokees with mortgage assistance to buy homes as well as programs that cater to artist development.

For more information on the Spider Gallery or the Gallery Shop, call 918-453-5728.

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