KNOXVILLE — Twelve Cherokee, N.C., high school students are digging up clues to their ancestral past at an archaeological field program now under way in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina.
The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, oversees the program in conjunction with the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. It started Monday and runs through July 20 on US 441 near the Oconaluftee Visitors Center, two miles north of Cherokee.
The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, the only federally recognized tribe in North Carolina, has about 14,000 members.
This is one of few archaeology field programs that targets high school students. Started in 2007, the program's main goals are to educate students on their culture and to inspire them to pursue college degrees in anthropology and related fields.
The research conducted will add to the data already gathered about Cherokee history in the park.
Staff from the UT Archaeological Research Laboratory and the National Park Service train students through discussions, readings and on-site instruction. Artifacts found during the excavation are analyzed and catalogued.