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'A social distancing pow wow in my own house': With her every brushstroke, painter feels ties to friends from pow wows, tribe history

'A social distancing pow wow in my own house': With her every brushstroke, painter feels ties to friends from pow wows, tribe history

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For Terry Price, chief of the Wolf Creek Cherokee Tribe, and his wife, Annette Price, weekends often meant trips to Native American pow wows across Virginia and along the East Coast.

“Usually weekend to weekend, there’s always a pow wow somewhere,” Annette Price said. “We would be able to be with our friends and have a good time and celebrate who we are as Native American people in Virginia.”

But pow wows, like many public events, have been canceled in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, leaving a void in the lives of those like the Prices, who live in Varina.

Annette Price has filled that emptiness with a hobby she picked up a few years ago: painting. She is using her art to remain connected to the people she has met at pow wows and to tell, in images, the history of her husband’s tribe.

“For me, since I can’t go to work every day, … I’ve got a little extra free time,” said Price, who is a heating, ventilation and air conditioning technician for the HVAC company she and Terry operate, Tomahawk Heating and Air. “Painting for me is a great outlet because it’s nice and quiet. Being able to go over some historical things is a real comfort.”

She’s already completed about 20 oil paintings of dancers, in full regalia, whom she’s met at pow wows. Her pastime has proved to be “like a social-distancing pow wow in my own house,” she said.

She eventually plans to give all of them to the subjects of the paintings.

Price is working on a separate painting project involving old photographs of tribal ancestors, some dating back to the 1800s, which she and her husband have collected over the years. The photos are part of the collection at the Wolf Creek Cherokee Museum and Tribal Center on Osborne Turnpike that the Prices opened in 2015. (wolfcreekcherokee.com) It’s closed at the moment because of the pandemic.

She is duplicating the old photographs of tribal ancestors in oil paint onto a buffalo hide: “I found I had a buffalo hide in my garage; of course, everyone has a buffalo hide in their garage,” she said with a laugh.

The result ends up being a sort of “family history,” she said, which she hopes will help as the tribe pushes for official state recognition.

“Being able to tell their story and their history and to have something visual is going to be very important to us,” said Price, who is self-taught as a painter.

Once finished, the painted buffalo hide will be on display at the museum and tribal center “when we come back together.”

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