Photo courtesy: @eatasheville
Jared Wheatley is a dual citizen of the Cherokee Nation and the United States and a small business owner in the Asheville area where he owns both his own clothing company and a construction business.
Jared is currently focused on the execution and expansion of the Indigenous Walls Project, which exists to amplify and visualize native and indigenous artists in public space where they can occupy a greater amount of non-indigenous consciousness as well as conversation, and hopefully stimulate an ongoing dialog about native land and the diversity of native and indigenous cultures between indigenous and non-indigenous people.
(The above bio has been taken from Jared’s talk with Creative Mornings Asheville – please visit them and view the talk HERE)
Tim Blekicki, Director of Community Engagement for Asheville City Soccer Club, was able to speak with Jared recently about the collaboration between the Indigenous walls Project and the club.
Tim Blekicki – For those who may not know, in your own words, what is the Indigenous Walls Project?
Jared Wheatly - The Indigenous Walls Project focuses on enhancing public awareness of native and indigenous nations through the use of public art displays. Through amplifying native voices we intent to increase awareness of the ancestral lands of the United States, the diversity of our native communities, and stimulate conversation about the deep and meaningful work being done to return native lands.
TB - Why was Asheville the right community for you to introduce the IWP within?
JW - Asheville is the perfect city for the Indigenous Walls Project because it sits on the ancestral lands of the Anigaduwagi (Cherokee) of which I am a citizen (Cherokee Nation). Asheville meets the right criteria for being a leader in ancestral lands acknowledgment and community building due to our thoughtful and engaged supporter
group who recognizes the value of a diverse community. Additionally, Asheville also fits into a nice niche category of small market who gets outsized attention within the nation consciousness for our progressive views and proactive approach to equity.
TB - How does the Project recruit indigenous artists and pair them with walls?
JW - The Indigenous Walls Project is an inter-tribal project which welcomes artist from any native or indigenous nation to come to Asheville and represent their culture in public space. Native artists are so frequently overlooked and so under-represented in public art that the recruitment process is typically a very open conversation about ancestral lands and their indigeneity. As for pairing artist with the walls, I actually walk each individual artist around all of the walls and the artist will find the space that most speaks to their vision. Usually the artist knows immediately which wall fits their cause.
TB - What has your experience been with the sport of soccer?
JW - I grew up in Kansas City and started playing soccer around the age of five. Throughout elementary and middle school I played soccer nearly year-round and reconnected with the sport during my service in the USAF. I’ve played adult league soccer in both the Asheville adult league and Hispanic league since 2009 and plan to play as long as my body will let me. I have also been a supporter of Liverpool football
club since 2005 – You’ll Never Walk Alone.
TB – As the club’s first step in helping to acknowledge Asheville’s sporting past, we collaborated with the Indigenous Walls Project on a scarf that you and your family designed. Can you describe the elements and inspiration of the design?
JW - My mother, Brenda Whitmire, actually conceptualize the scarf based off of the mural that both she and my oldest child Alexis designed at 46 Aston St. The design of the scarf is centrally focused around native solidarity and the Cherokee syllabary. On one side of the scarf - it simply states “Cherokee Land” and on the reverse side it states “the place where they race” which is what the Cherokee called the land that is now Asheville.
Photo courtesy: Hannah Tracy
The project focuses on visualizing native languages as indigenous cultures generally relied on oral teachings to pass on tradition. Our culture lives inside of our language and is reflective of the world around us in a different way than English. When we integrate the syllabary into our design it allows both people in our community and outside of our community to better understand the complexity and diversity of our culture which may be overlooked.
The design is both educational and empowering with a positive vision of community building between indigenous people and the colonialist infrastructure that has been over laid on our land. From a sporting perspective it is interesting to recognize that Asheville has been known to foster a competitive environment long before settlers entered the area.
TB - If someone wanted to support the project or donate wall space, how would they do so?
JW - There are two major ways that people can support the project. The first is the most simple - just acknowledge the ancestry land that they occupy and pass on their awareness to the people they are close with. The second way to support the project is to actively engaging municipal leaders to increase awareness of our native populations.
Financially, folks can provide support through our website by utilizing the donate now button at www.indigenouswallsproject.com.
Asheville City Soccer Club is honored to offer the scarf designed by Jared’s family for sale starting at July 6th’s home game at Memorial Stadium and online at acscmerch.com. All profits from the sale of the scarf will go supporting the Project’s goals of amplifying indigenous voices through the medium of public art.