Friends of New Echota Celebrate 10 Years, Recognize Contributors
Calhoun Times news paper, Wednesday, October 23, 2019
The Friends of New Echota hosted a diner and celebration on Saturday to mark the organization's 10 year anniversary and to recognize some of its more prominent volunteers and partners.
FONE President Fulton Arrington and wife and Vice President Monika Ponto-Arrington expressed gratitude for the support they've received over the years and handed out awards in honor of some of those people. The event also raised $631 for the group through a lively auction.
Arrington said they have come a long way in 10 years, but there is still more work to be done. Danny Quigg and his wife Amy Quigg will take over as president and vice president, respectively, at the end of the year. The Arringtons will remain on the board.
“We don't have any other mission besides the protection and enhancement of New Echota, so when something needs to get done, we can do it a lot faster than the state,” Arrington said Saturday.
He said many of the improvements that visitors see at New Echota today were paid for by FONE and/or installed by FONE volunteers. While New Echota is a state site, owned and managed by the state of Georgia under the jurisdiction of the Department of Natural Resources, there are may priorities and demands on both the state and departmental budgets that force site managers to make compromises between things that must be done and things that need to be done.
FONE, on the other hand, has no other priority than service to New Echota and the Cherokee history enshrined there. That singular focus allows FONE to immediately direct funds and volunteer hours to specific projects and programs at the request of the site manager without the delay of bureaucracy.
David Gomez is the site director and one of the individuals recognized on Saturday. He was singled out for 10 years of dedication, cooperation and support of the group.
Mark Ford, president of American Dakota Rugs, was presented with the Phoenix Award. Ford's company works with Native Americans to design and make authentic-style rugs. They also offer a New Echota line that benefits the site.
Other volunteers who were recognized with certificates of appreciation included Linda Fletcher, John Tucker, Lonnie Bell, Linda Baker and Judy Mincey.
This was the first such celebration for the Friends of New Echota, but Ponto-Arrington said they hope it becomes an annual event.
“Being who I am, I took it and ran with it. I tend to do that with a lot of things,” she said.
Danny Quigg, who will take over as president in 2020, praised the work of the group and said he knows there are big shoes to fill.
“We'll try to keep it going and recruit new members and hopefully catch up to Fulton's coattails,” he said.
FONE (Friends of New Echota) AND AMERICAN DAKOTA RUGS FORM PARTNERSHIP
New Echota Historic Site and American Dakota Rugs, both of Calhoun, Georgia have collaborated to develop a themed rug collection that embodies the spirit of the Cherokee people. In the last few years, funding for Georgia Historic Sites has been deeply cut and sites must get creative to generate much-needed funds to keep facilities running. Carmen Shuler, President of Friends of New Echota State Historic Site, said, "This project blended local talent and a real need. In the spirit of the Cherokee people, who historically adapted so well to new challenges, we are adapting to generate funds for New Echota State Historic Site."
"Mark Ford of American Dakota Rugs took a lot of time studying the interiors of our historic buildings and combing over the museum and even making a trip to Oklahoma. This research translated into a rug collection inspired by the art and historic objects of the Cherokee people,” continues Myers. Part of the proceeds from the sale of these rugs will be gifted by American Dakota Rugs to Friends of New Echota State Historic Site.
American Dakota (https://www.americandakota.com/) is a small rug company that creates rugs for rustic and mountain homes. It is owned by Mark and Simone Ford of Calhoun, Georgia. Mark minored in American Indian Studies and has worked in the Curator's office in Yellowstone National Park. He also lived two summers on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation in Montana. Mark draws upon these experiences when designing rugs for his company.
"It was such an honor to build a rug collection inspired by Calhoun's true locals, the great Cherokee Nation,” states Mark Ford of American Dakota. He took all of his sketches and research to Italy to acquire the talents of textile designer Giuseppe Martini of Martini Design Studio. "We wanted to be able to capture the Cherokee spirit in a respectful manner and create a line that was sellable at the same time, so working with a star design studio made sense,” says Ford. "Giuseppe has been designing textiles for North Georgia for years and not only has affection for our history, he wanted to help this cause. It's not an easy task to create designs from everyday historical objects and make them relevant for today's homes; because, if we don't sell any rugs, then we missed the mark. This project is about generating much-needed revenue for the Cherokee Capital right here in Calhoun and to preserve the dignity and history of this significant site", adds Ford.
American Dakota Rugs can be purchased at https://www.cobaltcreekrugs.com/