Martha Berry (artist)

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Martha Berry
Martha berry cherokee beadworker.jpg
Berry at the Cherokee Art Market in Catoosa, Oklahoma.
Born Oklahoma, United States
Nationality Cherokee
Education Family, self-taught
Known for Beadwork
Movement Traditional
Elected 1999 Delegate Cherokee Nation Constitution Convention

Martha Berry is a Cherokee beadwork artist, who has been highly influential in reviving traditional Cherokee and Southeastern beadwork, particularly techniques from the pre-Removal period.


Martha Berry was born and raised in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She is a registered tribal citizen of the Cherokee Nation. Her grandmother and mother taught her how to sew and embroider at age five. She made her own clothes and became a professional seamstress. She has expanded her skills by developing elaborate beadwork art. She taught herself the lost art of Cherokee beadwork by studying photographs of artifacts and examining Cherokee beaded artifacts at the Smithsonian Institution.[1][2]


Berry creates beaded bandolier bags, moccasins, belts, knee bands, purses and sashes. She often uses beadwork designs that evolved from pre-Contact Mississippian pottery into traditional 18th and 19th century Southeastern beadwork. Berry discovered a unique stitch only used on Southeastern sashes.[citation needed]

She has won prizes for her beadwork at the Cherokee Art Market, the Five Civilized Tribes Museum, the Heard Museum, and the Cherokee Heritage Center. Berry has delivered lectures on the revival of pre-Contact Cherokee beadwork at the National Liberty Museum in Philadelphia; the Bead Museum in Glendale, AZ; Tyler Museum of Art in Tyler, TX; Philbrook Museum of Art in Tulsa; Oklahoma History Center in Oklahoma City; Creek Council House Museum in Okmulgee, OK; and the Cherokee Heritage Center in Parkhill, OK.


Berry participated in the Native American Community Scholars Grant Program of the Smithsonian Institution. She has visited their collections to do further research into pre-Removal Southeastern beadwork, which has informed her own work.

Berry recently curated Beadwork Storytellers: A Visual Language, a Cherokee beadwork exhibition at the Cherokee Heritage Center in Park Hill, Oklahoma.[3] The exhibition included beadwork from the collection of the University of Aberdeen Museums, Scotland which had not been seen in the United States in almost two centuries. Berry also wrote the text for the show catalog.[1]


Berry lives in Tyler, Texas[2] with her husband, David. Her daughter, Christina Berry, is also a beader, photographer and publisher of "All Things Cherokee."[1] Her daughter, Karen Berry, is a Cherokee gourd artist.

She served as a delegate to the 1999 Cherokee Nation Constitution Convention in Tahlequah, Oklahoma.[1] She is currently an active member of several Cherokee organizations including the Cherokee Artists Association.[4]


  1. ^ a b c d About the Artist. Martha Berry (retrieved 17 March 2009)
  2. ^ a b Power, Susan C. Art of the Cherokee: Prehistory to Present. Athens, Georgia: University of Georgia Press, 2007: 209-211
  3. ^ Special Exhibits. Cherokee National Museum. (retrieved 17 March 2009)
  4. ^ Martha Berry. Cherokee Artists Association. (retrieved 4 Oct 2009)

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