“We're trying to integrate both cultural and traditional knowledge, as well as build a sense of ownership for the kids over growing their own food and their own health,” says Katie Rainwater of Cherokee Central School and FoodCorps. “The best way to do that is to get dirty.”

Empowermen­t from the Earth: Reclaiming Cherokee health and heritage

Cherokee is a community in flux. Decadeslong high poverty and unemployment rates are beginning to decline, but access to healthy food remains limited and cultural values seem to be changing. “It’s Western civilization versus our traditional Cherokee ways,” say community leaders. But community efforts are using gardens to reconnect the Cherokee people to local food, health and a collective heritage defined by knowledge of the earth.

WNC poised for economic growth, panelists say at Advantage West event-attachment0

WNC poised for economic growth, panelists say at Advantage West event

Touting the success of Harrah’s Casino and such improvements as a state-of-the-art school and a rural broadband network undertaken by the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indian, panelists at Advantage West’s annual Economic Summit — including Vice Chief Larry Blythe, pictured — said that Western North Carolina has the ingredients to thrive. (photos by Max Cooper)

TuckReader­: The Cherokee sense of place

“When I asked him about the Cherokee connection to the outdoors, [Tom Belt] started out by breaking down the constructs in the question,” says Giles Morris, co-publisher for TuckReader.com. “What is the outdoors, anyway? Is it nature? Outside? The Wilderness? ‘There is no Cherokee word for wilderness. We have no concept of that,’ Belt said. ‘What white people call wilderness is our home. We are a part of it and it is a part of us.’ …

A family affair

[Editor’s note: The historic gathering of the Oklahoma-based Cherokee Nation and Western North Carolina’s Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians April 16 to 18 unleashed a cascading array of images, memories and deep emotions. The following text and photos aim to convey something of the essence of the event.] Click here to view slideshow Music by […]