Artwork is Only Constant in Greene County Cherokee's Life

AUGUST 14, 2006 - Posted at 7:39 a.m. CDT

PARAGOULD, AR - David Wayaneetah of the Lafe community in northern Greene County says he no longer tries to predict what his next move will be, so nobody else should try, either.  He says the only constant in his life has been art.

Wayaneetah, a Cherokee Indian by birth, sells his artwork carved from stone and wood at a workshop in Paragould.  But during his 59 years of life, he has seen lots of things.  He grew up on a reservation in North Carolina, went to military school, served in Vietnam, went to law school and worked as a lawyer, acted in movies and worked on behalf of Native Americans.

But he says he has been involved with carving artwork out of wood and stone since he was a young boy.  It began as a hobby and a way to help support his family's income on the reservation, but has since transformed into a lucrative business with pieces selling for thousands of dollars each at shows around the world.

During a period spent in southern California, Wayaneetah sold his artwork to some of the most famous names in the country, including Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwartzenegger, Caroline Kennedy, John Belushi and John Candy.

Wayaneetah says he isn't sure what his future holds.  He is currently trying to get a booth at Jonesboro's Mall at Turtle Creek for the holidays at the end of the year.  He said that, depending on how that goes, he might stick around northeast Arkansas, or he might not.

(Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)