Edwin George, a member of the Eastern Band of Cherokees, was born in 1934 and raised in a mountain-side log cabin in Cherokee, NC. He grew up with limited educational opportunities, but in a home rich with native culture, stories, myths, and traditions. As a youth he and his family spoke only the Cherokee language. Though Edwin’s parents had minimal education and worked labor-type jobs, both taught him to honor the stories and legends of the Cherokee people. His mother’s sister, Martha Owl, was a master basket weaver, and Edwin remembers watching her dedication to her craft. Edwin left the reservation to find better employment opportunities, and eventually learned to speak some English. His marriage and life experience brought him to Ohio, where he worked for over 20 years as a custodian at Ohio State and Kent State Universities. During this time, he began to work with wood, whittling, carving, and painting totem poles, hiking sticks, and small sculptures. He once built a totem pole so large and detailed that he wasn’t able to get it out of his small home after assembling it. His passion to make art intensified.

In 1991, Edwin began to paint. His very first painting was the cabin of his youth, perched upon a tree covered mountainside. He labored over it, hesitantly trying to paint a realistic looking cabin. After that first attempt, a flood of Cherokee images, stories, myths, colors, animals and foliage flowed into his mind, and he realized that after all of this time, he needed to share his knowledge of the Cherokee language, culture, and mythology. He had always been tentative about sharing his culture because of his limited English-speaking abilities, but found that, through his paintings, he could share and express an abundance of his history without being hindered by his limited language skills.

Ohio Folk & Traditional Arts - Find Artists by County
Ohio Folk & Traditional Arts - Ohio Arts Council Ohio Folk & Traditional Arts - National Endowment for the Arts Ohio Folk & Traditional Arts - ThinkTV