Eugene Spencer grew up in Henry County, Virginia. His family history includes 2 Cherokee grandmothers who lived in Henry and Franklin County, as well as a mixed blood (Negro and Cherokee Indian) grandfather from Martinsville, VA. Eugene graduated from high school and went on to earn a B.S. degree at North Carolina A&T State University. He majored in Industrial Arts Education and History. And he earned his Teacher Certification at Virginia State University. He taught Industrial Arts in the Martinsville Public School system as well as Lynchburg, Virginia and Houston, Texas school systems. He also served in the West Indies as a Peace Corp volunteer teacher.
These days Spencer is enthusiastically promoting his Indian roots. If you visit the Bassett Historical Center you will see his labor of love for the indian display there contains many of his creations. A number of masks are created to be historically correct and are researched. Others are free form masks built in the manner of indians using natural materials at hand. He is quick to tell you that local tribes did not use eagle feathers in their headdresses but used native turkey feathers instead. He is pictured below at center wearing a hand crafted headdress made of feathers and fur.
Spencer has been attending Indian Powwows for 28 years throughout Virginia and North Carolina and has high hopes that the Martinsville Powwow will be revived. He has displayed his work over a period of 17 years at the Blue Ridge Public Library in Martinsville, Collinsville, and Ridgeway, the Artisan Center and the Bassett Historical Center. He created a mask for the tribal chief of the North Carolina Occoneechi Saponi tribe and was maskmaker for the Wolf Creek Cherokee tribe in Stuart, VA.
Spencer does not sell his masks. He gifts photos of them to chiefs at the powwows. Click the photos below to enlarge.