Qualla Arts and Crafts Mutual, Inc. was founded in 1946, with the goal of promoting the development, production, and marketing of unique and authentic Cherokee arts and crafts. Known locally as the "co-op," Qualla Arts and Crafts is one of the oldest Native American cooperatives in the United States. Soon after its formation, the organization rented a storefront on Highway 441, a few miles from its present location.
In testimony to the skill of its members, it was juried into the Southern Highland Handicraft Guild in 1949. In 1954, the co-op took its current name, Qualla Arts and Crafts Mutual, Inc., when it was formally incorporated under the State of North Carolina. In 1960, the co-op moved to its present location and, in 1969, began organizing exhibitions to showcase the work of its members. Basket weaver Eva Wolfe was the first person to have her work exhibited. In 1976 the co-op's building was renovated, adding large windows, native stone, and a new exhibit gallery.
In its earliest days, baskets were the mainstay of the young artisan cooperative, accounting for half its sales. Today, the co-op continues to attract collectors from all over the world and represents artists working in a variety of media. All items in the store are authentic, handmade Native American crafts with the majority of the work coming from
Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians members. When sold, these and other crafts are tagged with a certificate of authenticity.
The North Carolina mountains and foothills were designated the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area in recognition of their natural beauty and living traditions of music, craft, agriculture, and Cherokee culture. This location is part of a regional trail of distinctive heritage sites. Ask for information at area visitor centers.
More information online at: www.blueridgeheritage.com