Authentically Cherokee Marketplace in Asheville, NC

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Veronica Hix Photo

Greetings ONABEN Friends! I am excited to report that our event in Asheville, North Carolina, was a huge success. I leave this place feeling excited and looking forward to the work ahead of Team ONABEN. I find today’s event almost indescribable. I tend to be a very positive person when I consider the work that we do, but I think today’s event surpassed even my own expectations!!! We even had a local TV news station cover the marketplace, and if you want to get a feel for the day’s atmosphere you can view their segment on our website:

The Asheville Chamber of Commerce is the most amazing group of people, and in just a short amount of time working together, has become an invaluable partner and friend to ONABEN. When we first began planning this event, I wasn’t sure we would get more than five artists to participate. Well, I am thrilled to report that we filled every table made available to us by the Chamber. In fact, we had so much demand that some of those tables had to house the work of two artists! A big WADO to Heidi Reiber of the Chamber for working so hard to accommodate all of our artists and for anticipating every possible need that we might encounter.


And, the artists….well, I am so proud to work with and for so many talented individuals. From beaded earrings, to unique pieces of pottery, to cornhusk dolls, to miniature baskets, to paintings, to handmade soaps and lotions, our Authentically Cherokee artists offered a variety of artistic creations!  Today’s marketplace showcased a lot of very talented people and everyone made sales! The traffic never stopped, but instead flowed steadily throughout the day. Most importantly, through our work with Sequoyah Fund, and made possible by funding dollars provided by ANA, ONABEN helped to unlock a world of possibilities to the Native American artists in attendance today.

IMG_0254 (Joel Queen)

In one of my earliest visits to the one and only Cherokee, North Carolina, the artists that attended our training were not sure about expanding their customer base by traveling outside of their local community. But, I feel confident that our event today helped to ease any anxiety they may have had early on in our work together. It was exhilarating to see the artists excited and networking and thinking beyond the Qualla Boundary that they call home. Connections were made that will ultimately lead to other events, thus growing these artists as entrepreneurs, and perhaps even more importantly, helping them to expand their roles as culture carriers of the Cherokee community.


What’s next? Well, we successfully took Cherokee to Asheville. Now we need to get Asheville to Cherokee! Our first event will not be our last. And, as successful as it was, I can say with certainty that it will not be our best. Look for our artist events in North Carolina to get better and better, and occurring on a more regular basis as our program expands!

As always, thank you for reading, and “talk” soon, V.

Michael Bridges

Michael Bridges

Michael is a proud U.S. Army Veteran and a member of the Cherokee Nation. With 10 years of service as an Infantryman, Michael implements the core values of integrity, honor, and selfless service into his leadership of the company. With over 20 years of experience, Michael began working with building websites and graphic design in 1998. A family-oriented man, Michael enjoys spending time with his wife Kristina and their three children. He is a proud and active member of Jenks Lodge #497 A.F. & A.M. and an advisor for the Order of DeMolay.