CHECOTAH — Part of Saturday’s Native Art Market will honor the memory of Will Sampson, a Muscogee (Creek) movie actor.

Sampson, best known as the non-speaking patient in “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” was born near Okmulgee and has family in the area, said Frankie Blagg, curator of Heartland Heritage Center Museum and Gallery. 

The center, 116 N. Broadway, will unveil a portrait of Sampson during the Art Market, which runs from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. The market will feature paintings, bead work, textiles, music and other items on display or for sale. 

“We just want to present the family with the painting,” Blagg said, adding that the presentation will be at 1 p.m. Saturday.

“Will Sampson was a full-blooded Creek,” she said. “He’s buried west of Checotah.”

In “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” Sampson played Chief Bromden, a mental patient who claimed to be a deaf mute. Sampson also appeared in “The Outlaw Josey Wales” and “Poltergeist II: The Other Side.”

Sampson also was an artist. His works have been shown at Gilcrease Museum, Philbrook Art Center and the Library of Commerce, according to the book, “Beyond Cuckoo’s Nest: The Art and Life of William Sampson, Jr.”

The Heartland Heritage Center added a display about Will Sampson last July, Blagg said.

Featured artists for this year’s Native Art Market are Jon Tiger and Jeanne Rorex Bridges. However, more than a dozen other artists also will have pieces, Blagg said.

Prizes and ribbons will be awarded for Best of Show, first place and second place, she said. There also will be a $50 gift card for best table display and best wall hanging.

The center recently installed new walls, enabling it to expand its viewing space. Blagg said proceeds from the Checotah Chamber of Commerce Chili Cookoff paid for the new walls.

Reach Cathy Spaulding at (918) 684-2928 or

If you go

WHAT: Indian Art Market.

WHEN:  9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday.

WHERE: Heartland Heritage Center, 116 N. Broadway, Checotah.

React to this story:


Recommended for you