In Building One Fire, Chad Smith and renowned Cherokee-Osage scholar and author Rennard Strickland present a unique look at Cherokee art through the lens of Cherokee philosophy. Since the time when Water Spider brought the gift of fire to the Cherokee people, the One Fire, “the Ancient Lady,” has been at the center of Cherokee spiritual life.
From this fire, which represents community, the white smoke of prayer rises to Nitsudunvha, One Who is Always Above. In return Nitsudunvha sends to each person four sets of gifts with which to develop mind, body, and spirit. These gifts are brought by four messengers, one from each of the cardinal directions. The gifts of the four messengers, the colors and qualities associated with them, and the four-point circle that embraces the sacred fire—all these are part of Cherokee consciousness and creativity.They take visible form, subtly or directly, in works created by Cherokee artists.
This book presents more than 200 art-works by some 80 artists which speak to what it means to be Cherokee. Cherokee philosopher Benny Smith shares his teachings about Cherokee world view, Cherokee art is laid before the reader in a visual feast, and a special ending section celebrates the vivaciousness of child artists who represent the next generation’s creative Cherokee citizens.