Bill Cullom

Bill Cullom: Collector of Native American artifacts
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Born: March 3, 1932, Huntsville, Alabama
Education: Bachelor’s of Finance, Florida State University
Avocation: From his 1970 GMC truck to his turn-of-the-century farmhouse in Yancey County, Bill Cullom surrounds himself with pieces of the past. His most prized relics, however, form the collection he began 67 years ago with his first discovery of an arrowhead in an Alabama field. Today, a room of his home is dedicated to more than 4,000 Native American artifacts—vestiges of the Cherokee and Creek tribes—that he’s gathered from North Carolina, Tennessee, and Alabama. Cullom particularly admires the Cherokee. “Through their intelligence and artistry, they were able to make all their tools,” he says. Bell-shaped pestles for grinding corn and double-headed adzes for planting crops, as well as pendants for designating social rank are among his treasures, but 3,000 arrowheads dominate his trove. Cullom considers the collection a personal museum in honor of his heritage—his grandfather was part Cherokee—and the people he feels “a strong connection to” who crafted the objects now lining his shelves.

Photography by Giedre Krulikas