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New Catoosa organization aims to support Native American artists

route 66 native arts alliance.jpg
Posted at 10:03 PM, Jul 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-09 07:33:36-04

CATOOSA, Okla. — Native American art is taking center stage in Catoosa this weekend.

50 Native artists are showcasing their skills as part of the new Route 66 Native Arts Alliance. The group is bringing the community together to support Native artists during the pandemic.

“All joining arms to make this community really a special place for the artists," said Betsy Swimmer, vice president of the Route 66 Native Arts Alliance. "And also, for Route 66, an authentic experience with Native artists.”

The events kicked off Thursday night with an art show and gala at the Bella Donna Event Center. Artists showed off their paintings, jewelry and even furniture. The furniture pieces featured are designed by Cray Bauxmont-Flynn, a member of Cherokee Nation and the Delaware Tribe who is the founder and creative director of Amatoya. He said his pieces are inspired by his Native roots.

“We keep on evolving from our heritage and our cultural essence into a new art form that takes you to the next level," Bauxmont-Flynn said.

The weekend is also launching “Destination Catoosa." It's an effort to make the city a hub for Native art in the region.

You can hear Bartlesville Native and Cherokee Citizen singer-songwriter Becky Hobbs perform a song she wrote for the event, appropriately called "Destination Catoosa," as a tribute to the city.

“It’s the redbud trees," Hobbs said. "The birds sing. It’s the Verdigris River. The Blue Whale. I even got the Blue Whale in there. So I had lots of fun writing it.”

Friday’s events include a concert from Hobbs as well as a Native art show all at the Bella Donna.

The festivities continue in downtown Catoosa on Saturday with a street fair. Booths will line Cherokee Street and feature even more Native American artists. There will also be live music and food trucks.

It’s also a chance to showcase the city, known as the gateway to Cherokee Nation.

“We have 'Destination Catoosa,'" Swimmer said. "We’ve already had new people moving in here, becoming aware of how much Catoosa and northeast Oklahoma has to offer.”

You can see the full list of events on the Destination Catoosa Facebook page here.

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