Luther "Butch" & Lydia Goings

Eastern Band of Cherokee
"In our culture, we believe that all things are connected."
-Lydia Louise Goings


Like the beautiful white oak, black walnut, butternut and buckeye trees of the tribal lands that provide material for their artwork, Butch and Louise have been pillars of their Eastern Band of Cherokee community for longer than anyone can remember. Married over 50 years, Butch is a wood carver and Louise a white oak basket maker. They live their lives as selfless conduits of Cherokee practices and knowledge, passing on the skills and meaning behind traditional stomp dance, weaving, carving, and land and community stewardship.

“In our culture, we believe that all things are connected,” says Louise. “Therefore, we try to use all the skills and knowledge we have to strengthen our community. Even though we are known for basket making and carving, we also use other skills and knowledge we have to help our community.”

Tonya Carroll nominated the Goings for the 2016 Community Spirit Award and credits them with teaching her through their cultural practices how to be a strong Cherokee woman and how a Cherokee man should behave. “They have taught me that as Cherokee people we need to support each other by listening and learning from each other,” she says.

Louise learned the art of basketry from her own mother. “My mother said that if you can find the tree, cut it down, make splints, gather your dye plants and materials, dye the splints, and then weave your basket, you are a basket maker. If you just use splints that someone else made, then you are a basket weaver. I am a basket maker.”

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