published Thursday, May 22nd, 2014

Well-known Cherokee dancer killed in accident

  • photo
    Scott Crisp, a Cherokee traditional dancer, performs as audience members look on at the Cherokee Days of Recognition in Red Clay State Park in Cleveland, Tenn.
    Photo by Staff File Photo.
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Scott Crisp will never pound the earth with the Cherokee bear dance again.

McMinn County, Tenn., resident Crisp, a widely known traditional Cherokee dancer, storyteller and historian of Cherokee lore, was electrocuted Monday while working on his catering truck just outside Etowah.

Crisp, 45, and friend Kimbal Hyde were working on the wiring in the truck around lunchtime Monday when Crisp told Hyde a metal table in the truck was shocking him, according to a McMinn County Sheriff's Office report.

Crisp had started moving the wiring under the table as he looked for the problem when, Hyde said, his friend starting yelling for help.

Hyde, seeing Crisp's hand clenched around the wires, kicked the wires away and immediately called 911 and started CPR until an ambulance arrived, the report states. Hyde tried talking to Crisp but he was unresponsive.

Crisp was pronounced dead at Starr Regional Medical Center, just a mile away from the accident site.

McMinn County Sheriff Joe Guy, also a local historian, said he and the boisterous Crisp had worked together on American Indian history and culture projects over the years.

"He was friends with everybody. He was somebody who represented his culture well and represented his community well," Guy said. "He was a great resource for all those things, and he'll really be missed."

Meredith Willson, chairwoman of Athens, Tenn.'s Pumpkintown festival committee, said Crisp, of Cherokee descent, was a fellow committee member who brought vitality and culture to the festival in McMinn County's seat.

"It's just a shock. He was the heart and soul of Pumpkintown," Willson said, noting Crisp was active with other local history organizations.

"Scott was just 20-something when he started at the [McMinn County Living Heritage] Museum," she said.

Crisp "was pretty well renowned in the Southeast and he even went as far as Michigan," she said. "What he lived for was to do powwows and Cherokee gatherings."

Willson said Crisp would have been at a Pumpkintown committee meeting Wednesday, but now they're discussing dedicating the next festival in his honor. He will be buried today at McMinn Memory Gardens.

Contact staff writer Ben Benton at or 423-757-6569.

about Ben Benton...

Ben Benton is a news reporter at the Chattanooga Times Free Press. He covers Southeast Tennessee and previously covered North Georgia education. Ben has worked at the Times Free Press since November 2005, first covering Bledsoe and Sequatchie counties and later adding Marion, Grundy and other counties in the northern and western edges of the region to his coverage. He was born and raised in Cleveland, Tenn., a graduate of Bradley Central High School. Benton ...

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