Thursday, May 7, 2009

What is a National Heritage Area anyway?

The National Park Service has this to say about heritage areas:  

"The designation has both tangible and intangible benefits. Heritage conservation efforts are grounded in a community's pride in its history and traditions, and in residents' interest and involvement in retaining and interpreting the landscape for future generations. It offers a collaborative approach to conservation that does not compromise traditional local control over and use of the landscape. Designation comes with limited financial and technical assistance from the National Park Service."  

There are more FAQs in the link.  In other words, based on your interest in interpreting your area for future generations you can create conservation projects that may also be an economic benefit to your area.  Tourism, unique craft businesses, well... anything unique that makes your place special.  

And the Park Service will help you do your own thing with technical assistance and financial assistance through whatever governing body emerges for our Southern Campaign National Heritage Area. It is important that we all connect to form the governing body. I will not concentrate on that aspect until after July 1. Sometime in the fall I understand the committee assisting the Park Service will have to determine how to manage this Heritage site. In the meantime, it is my purpose to uncover all aspects of the Revolution in NC and encourage counties to be partners in the effort.

The best model in the country of what a National Heritage Area can be is our own Blue Ridge National Heritage Area. Take a look at that! (I photographed the header for the Traditional Artist Directory. They picked it after reviewing many other shots and it shows RG's band in 2006 on the Cabin Stage at Merlefest. I am pretty proud of that photo. I guess God gave it because I lifted by camera over my head and shot. That was a marvelous result.)  The management plan is what we need to create for the Southern Campaign; however, baby steps first... Which counties had significant Rev. War stories?

Today I have been struck by the fear in the hearts of the Longhunters in the NW counties, realizing that their way of life in collaboration with the Cherokee and other Native groups was threatened by the rebellion brewing down the mountain.  Their families, their jobs if you will, and their everyday life was at a line in the sand. Which side are you on?  Like their brothers in the East, joining the Rebellion was a hard and serious decision. It's like a divorce.  Divorce does not come lightly or without its own consequences even if it is the right thing to do.  

I read the Declaration of Independence in that frame of mine the other day. Jefferson noted that most people even knowing that they would be better off out of the relationship, hesitate and bear it to the bitter end before resorting to separation.  I can relate. Many of you can do. It's hard and sad to separate from what you thought was true and lovely.

Anyway, I believe the Catawba Indians in the East supported the Patriots against the British. The Cherokee on the other hand divided into old and young with the young ones siding for war on the side of the British and the older ones, probably with mixed race grandchildren and seeing the mass of Euro settlers, making treaties.  Its hard at this stage to know which side was right. The Native lands were clearly overrun especially after the war. The murderous raids in and out of villages continued on both sides cleaving what family bonds there may have been.  This was like the Tory war. Brother against brother except it was likely to be brother against brother-in-law.

There were many, many Native people in NC. By the time of the Revolution, disease introduced by Spanish and later European explorers had taken its toll. So, as I understand it, the bands of Eastern Indians were relatively small with families intermarrying between tribes and with white and black neighbors.  But I don't know much about that. I'd like to know more.  

I took my French aupair to a pow-wow in Cherokee when my son was about three. He got up and danced too. He looked like a whirling dervish, but he enjoyed it and no one stopped him. The drumming was great.  I was impressed with the veterans dancing and the women too. The Haliwa-Saponi recently held their annual Pow-Wow. The dance in the link above was from 2008. My uncle took his girls to the Pow-Wow some years ago and had a great time. He grew up in Nash, but he continually chases our relatives in Warren and Halifax.  

I know Greg Richardson is the head of Indian Affairs in NC. We met when we were much younger and he was active in public service then, but he will not remember me. He is a link to all the tribes we know about in NC. I had never met Native people before him and expressed something from my family that disappointed him. I was disappointed when he didn't call back. It was a real revelation to me of prejudice still underlying us and not recognizing it.  

This is an important reason to understand the whole story of the time period. If we can all be like Gandi and we must, we can make something of our current culture.  It is not something to hide. I Look at Ireland and Northern Ireland. Today, they put aside there prejudices and invite all of us to visit all of them. We need to do that too.

What was the Native status during the Revolution?  I am particularly interested in the East because of all my relatives and because last time I looked Warren county was not on the county list for the National Heritage Area. So I'm sending this out. 

I see in pension statements (Goins) that there were certainly men of Native heritage serving on the Patriot side. We need to acknowledge the "other" story as well where Native people joined the British cause. What was the tale of the Native people of NC during the Revolution and how can we express this today in a way to our mutual benefit.

RG has Cherokee and Creek native heritage. We have a few photos of his great-grandparents from NC and still expressing their culture in the mid-1800s.  He organized the first pow-wow in Wilkes county a year or so ago. It was a great success.  I even have some connection, but it goes to the Tuscarora War of 1712 in the far eastern counties. That is another whole story, but it was by studying genealogy that I realized how intermingled the people became and how quickly. I was really surprised by that. But I shouldn't have been. Obviously, the first Europeans could not have survived without help from the Native people.

This is a hard post to write.

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