When Rose was studying the Cherokee Indians in her co-op class, she had to complete a project showing something from Cherokee culture. It might be a game, a craft or a toy. Rose chose a craft. Specifically, she wanted to make a mask.
The problem for us was that we didn’t know anything about Cherokee Indian masks. We had found a Cherokee Masks coloring book on a visit to New Echota and we had also seen several masks hanging in the houses during our visit. So, armed with nothing more than that, we set out to make a mask.
Our reading on the subject, based on the coloring book and various internet searches, has led us to believe that the Cherokee made masks to represent different animals and their enemies. They would have members of their tribe sneak into the camp gathering/dance wearing the masks, and would use the dance to ridicule their enemies.
I liked the idea of making fun of your fears as a way to overcome them. Rose liked the idea of making a mask to make fun of the “white man,” so we decided to make our own paper mache version.
We started with a balloon and covered it with about four layers of criss-crossing newspaper strips and paper mache glue mix. For paper mache glue, we used an equal amount of flour and water mixed together.
Once we had the base of the mask down, we added a large wadded-up newspaper nose, and we used additional newspaper strips and paper mache glue to attach the strips.
Rose decided at that point that she wanted to paint the mask yellow. She felt that yellow would make a good “white man” color for her silly mask. It took two coats of washable tempera paint to cover the newspaper.
Once all was dry, we used a box cutter to gently cut square shaped eye holes. I also trimmed off the rough edges on the sides. Then, Rose drew on the details with sharpies. She was especially proud to put a fly on her mask’s nose since we knew that these masks made fun of the enemy.