Even before Cherokee people first came to the southeast, the Woodland people who were living there were making baskets and pottery. Their earliest pottery looks a lot like baskets and probably came from making clay-linedwaterproof baskets to store things in.
When Cherokee people first split off from the Iroquois about 1500 BC and settled in the southeast of North America, where Tennessee, Arkansas, and North Carolina are now, they had already been making art for thousands of years. Cherokee artists made complicated and beautiful baskets like this one.
By the Mississippian period, about 1000 AD, Cherokee artists were making much fancier kinds of pottery, tobacco pipes, and clay masks. Some of their designs look like Mayan or Aztec designs from Central America, and it’s likely that by this time Cherokee people were seeing Mississippian imitations of Pueblo imitations of Aztec art.
These two little marble statues – a kneeling woman on the left and a kneeling man on the right – for example, look a lot like Aztec statues from about the same time, or Olmec statues from 500 years earlier.
Cherokee dancing was also a form of artistic expression as well as being a religious experience. Here is a video of some Cherokee dances:
Learn by doing: making a basket
More about Cherokee history
More about Cherokee buildings
Bibliography and further reading about Cherokee art: