The Museum of the Cherokee Indian (MCI) is expanding its leadership with the appointment of two new directors. Evan Mathis has joined the Museum as its director of collections and exhibitions to manage the care, safety, and security of the MCI’s paper and object collections and assist in the scheduling, design, and implementation of exhibitions. Michael Slee has been appointed director of operations to oversee the Museum’s day-to-day operations, including facilities, financials, front line, and external affairs.
Mathis comes to the MCI from the supply department of Cherokee Indian Hospital, which he led as Manager. While not an enrolled member, Mathis is an artist of Cherokee descent with close ties to the community. He began creating traditional Cherokee beadwork at age 15 and has traveled throughout the United States to study historic Cherokee beaded objects and material culture. He graduated from University of North Carolina Charlotte with a bachelor of arts degree in history and is currently enrolled in the Museum Studies Certificate Program at the Institute of American Indian Arts. Mathis resides in Whittier where he continues to bead and handcraft moccasins.
Slee arrives at the Museum following a decade at EBCI Transit, where he most recently served as assistant manager. He is a graduate of Western Carolina University and holds a bachelor of science degree in business administration and law. A member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, Slee is a member of the Longhair Clan and a member of both Raven Rock Stomp Grounds and the Walelu Indian Ball Team. He resides in the Birdtown Community of Cherokee with his wife and three children.
“We cast a wide net for these positions as they are vital to us reaching for our vision,” says MCI Executive Director Shana Bushyhead Condill. “Evan brings a combination of leadership and collections experience to his position and is also a maker which gives him expertise in the care of Cherokee collections specifically. Michael is a proven leader in operations and an active community member, which gives him a perspective the Museum needs as we continue to build. We are excited to welcome them to the team and have them jump right into our exciting plans for the future.”
Both directors share an interest in fostering a welcoming, community-centered environment at the MCI, holding trust and accessibility as core values. “I want this to be a safe space for tribal members to learn about the objects and archives we are caring for,” affirms Mathis.
Slee agrees. “We work for the Cherokee people, preserving our culture and sharing our stories.”
“The Museum Board and I are so excited to welcome the new Director of Collections and Exhibitions and Director of Operations,” MCI Board President Samantha Ferguson said. “Michael and Evan come to us with a wealth of knowledge and experience sharing our goal of serving the Cherokee people. As our staff continues to grow, I continue to be amazed and grateful for a team with a commitment not only to our mission but to us as a Cherokee community.”
Established in 1948, the Museum of the Cherokee Indian is one of the longest operating tribal museums. Recognized for its innovative storytelling, the Museum features exhibits, artwork, and hands-on technology that brings 12,000 years of Cherokee history to life. Located in Cherokee, NC, the Museum is open daily except Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day. Learn more by visiting www.mci.org.
- Museum of the Cherokee Indian release