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In 2002, the Tribal Business Preference Law, codified in the Cherokee Code at chapter 92, was amended by Tribal Council to authorize the certification for craft or artisan vendor by the Tribal Employment Rights Office (TERO). The purpose of this amendment was to clarify whether the crafts or art being sold to the Tribe’s casino are authentic and produced by enrolled members of the Tribe. See §92-4, Definition of “craft vendor”.
For several decades, the primary industry of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians was tourism. However, due to the rural, mountainous topography and lack of transportation infrastructure, the economy has always lagged. Before the casino was developed in 1997, many tribal members saw an opportunity to use their artistic talents to make traditional and authentic Cherokee handcrafted products and/or art out of their homes. Thus, the Cherokee cultural cottage industry was born and thrived. In recent years, as investments to improve the Tribe’s cultural attractions combined with a marketing strategy designed to attract visitors has promoted and interested in cultural tourism to the Qualla Boundary.
Cherokee Cottage Industry & Cultural Economy
A cottage industry is a “business or manufacturing activity carried out in a person’s home.” The Cherokee Cottage Industry has played a significant role in the development of the tribal economy. Many tribal members created traditional Cherokee baskets, pottery, carving, beadwork, finger weaving, quilting, etc. The sale of these handmade works often provided a key source of income to a Cherokee household. Today, many tribal members have taken their talents in the traditional Cherokee arts and have developed a modern Cherokee cottage industry to serve the contemporary market that seeks out original, handcrafted products. More contemporary products and merchandise are developed by using traditional Cherokee basket and pottery designs to create designs for custom t-shirts, the visual arts, jewelry, clothing, or soaps, etc.
Whether an artist is creating traditional art or crafts, or utilizing modern processes to create their products, the work that goes into each creation is considerable, both from the labor of gathering raw materials to generating the design for a finished product. All processes involve a knowledge of the raw materials, how and when to harvest them (if natural resources from the forest landscape), and the intellect to put them together as incepted in the artist’s mind.
A TERO Artisan/Craft Certification is available and limited to EBCI enrolled members only who provide handmade crafts for wholesale or profit.
New Applicants. Enrolled members are required to complete this application and pay a $20 new Craft/Artisan Certification Application Fee. See §92-18(c).
You will need the following:
Renewing Applicants. Enrolled members who currently hold a TERO Craft/Artisan Certification are required to complete the renewal application and pay $15 for a renewal certification.
You will need the following:
Please pay fee at the Tribal Finance office located at 468 Sequoyah Trail (the Old Police Dept) and bring a copy of your receipt when turning in your application.
*COVID-19: You will need to contact Finance via telephone to pay by debit or credit card. Please let them know that this is for a TERO Certification. You may mail a check to Tribal Finance at PO Box 455, Cherokee, NC 28719. Please reference with “TERO Artisan/Craft Certification Fee”.
You may submit the complete application packet to TERO via USPS: EBCI-TERO, PO Box 1839, Cherokee, NC 28719. OR, email to TEROCompliance@ebci-nsn.gov. We are no longer located at the GLW Bldg. We moved to 756 Aquoni Rd, Cherokee, NC 28719.
We look forward to reviewing your application.