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New mural portrays history of Cherokee
By Tom Smith -
Allison Carter/TimesDaily
Students in Pam Burns art class at Cherokee High School sign the mural they painted on the side of town hall Thursday in Cherokee. Burns art class spent three Saturdays and one afternoon painting the mural of a Native American in a cotton field.

CHEROKEE — Sammy Knudson admits the mural painted on the side of the Cherokee Town Hall is pretty amazing.

“Everyone used their different styles, and it really came together,” said Knudson, a senior at the high school. “Honestly, it turned out pretty amazing.”

Amazing is the word that others around town are using to describe the mural that Pam Burns’ art students painted.

“I think it’s wonderful. The students did a fantastic job,” said Nancy Giles, chairman of the Cherokee Industrial Board. “We’re really proud of it.”

The industrial board commissioned the high school art students to take on the project.

“We wanted to do something to bring light to where the town hall was,” Giles said. “We talked with Mayor Terry Cosby, and he wanted to do more than just a city hall sign. We can up with the idea of a mural.”

Giles said the board talked with Burns, and she was happy to get her students involved.

The mural offers a picturesque look at the history of Cherokee, commemorating early lives in the western Colbert County town. It also provides a welcome to visitors.

The mural consists of an Indian chief, a cotton field and the river.

“We had wanted to get the train in, because the train was a big part of our history, and in fact, Cherokee was founded in 1856 — the same year the train started coming through town,” Giles said.

She said the images in the mural are major elements of the town’s history, from the rich native American heritage to the strong farming community that Cherokee still is, to the river, which still plays a major role in the economy.

“We came up with some ideas and gave them to Ms. Burns, and she took what we wanted and put it all together,” Giles said. Burns said 13 students worked on the project.

The project began in October, and the students worked three Saturdays and one Tuesday after school to complete it.

“They’re a very talented group, and I’m very proud of them and what they have accomplished.”

Burns said she helped get the mural started by drawing the Indian and the basic landscape.

“Then they went to work and took it from there,” she said. “They used their own styles and their own ideas in bringing this idea to life.” Burns said the students were very passionate about their work.

“It was a chance for them to show off their talents, and they did,” she said.

The mural is very colorful, with blues, whites, and browns.

“The colors and the Indian really stand out and draw you to it,” Knudson said. “We’re all very proud of it.”

On Thursday, the students got a chance to put their signatures on the mural.

“Our names are going to be on it so everyone will know that we painted it,” Knudson said.

And it’s that kind of pride that Giles and the industrial board was hoping to develop when they asked the students to paint the mural.

“We hope the people of Cherokee will take pride in our town, like the students have in their work,” Giles said.

Tom Smith can be reached at 256-740-5757 or

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