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Stewards of the Earth

The Land Trust for the Little Tennessee

The Land Trust for the Little Tennessee (LTLT) conserves the waters, forests, farms, and heritage of the upper Little Tennessee and Hiwassee River valleys including all of North Carolina west of the Balsam Mountains and a portion of North Georgia. Since 1999, LTLT has conserved over 12,000 acres of land including 35 miles of Little Tennessee River frontage, multiple family farms and historic sites, and over 100 miles of headwater streams in the Balsam, Cowee, Nantahala, and Great Smoky Mountains. LTLT's cultural heritage preservation work has included a partnership with the Cherokee to conserve the ancient town site of Cowee, the nomination of the largest National Register Historic District in western NC, and the purchase of an 1895 General Store. LTLT has also created programs to promote sound forest management on private lands as well as habitat restoration along miles of river and stream frontage, including restoration of traditional Cherokee artisan resources such as rivercane, butternut, and white oak. An MOU with Qualla Arts & Crafts Mutual has facilitated regular rivercane harvests on LTLT properties.


RTCAR at a Glance

The Revitalization of Traditional Cherokee Artisan Resources (RTCAR) initiative is a multi-year grant-making initiative whose purpose is to assist the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI) in restoring the traditional Cherokee balance between maintaining and using natural resources. Funded by Cherokee Preservation Foundation and housed at EBCI Cooperative Estension, RTCAR has been undertaken to teach, protect and promote Cherokee traditional art, resources and land care for present and future generations.

RTCAR’s focus is to identify potential grant applicants and other collaborators who want to undertake habitat restoration projects, conduct research projects concerning sustainable harvesting techniques, and develop cultural preservation projects that will provide Cherokee artisans with access to river cane and other natural resources essential to their craft.

Partners have included artisans, university researchers, conservation organizations, government agencies (EBCI, federal and state), and other funders (private foundation and government agencies) that consider RTCAR’s endeavors to be good investments. Applicants may be located beyond the Qualla Boundary and the seven-county area in western North Carolina that Cherokee Preservation Foundation generally serves, provided that the natural resources they develop will be available to Cherokee artisans. RTCAR also facilitates the Native American Artist Exchange Program funded by the New England Foundation for the Arts.

The Staff

Project Director David Cozzo received his BS in Biology from Eastern Kentucky University, MA in Appalachian Studies from Appalachian State University, and PhD in Anthropology from the University of Georgia in Athens. His interests culminated in his doctoral dissertation, Ethnobotanical Classification System and Medical Ethnobotany of the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indians (2004).

Beth Ross Johnson brings a background in the arts to her role as Community Development Specialist. She received an MFA in Textiles from Georgia State University and is committed to the preservation and development of traditional craft.

The Advisory Board

A team of cultural and natural resource experts in the region is collaborating to set RTCAR’s strategic direction and policies. The group consists of Robert Conley, the Sequoyah Distinguished Professor at Western Carolina University (WCU); Agnes Reed, Qualla Arts & Crafts; Janet Owle, Community Club Council; Roseanna Belt, director of WCU’s Cherokee Center;  Russ Townsend, the EBCI’s Tribal Historic Preservation Officer; Bobby Raines, Programming Associate CPF; Kevin Welch, Cooperative Extension; David Lambert, BIA Forestry; TJ Holland, Cultural Resources Supervisor KPEP, Thomas Hatley, Former Sequoyah Professor, WCU.

The Community Advisory Board

The Community Advisory Board consists of a rotating board of Cherokee artisans who are members of Qualla to advise RTCAR on their concerns regarding craft resources, education and the promotion of Cherokee.

Recently Funded Grants

Asheville Art Museum Association, Inc.

Project purpose: To support a museum exhibition that presents the work of contemporary Cherokee potters. The Art Museum is working with Qualla in the curation of this exhibit.

Cherokee High School

Project purpose: To develop classes in river cane basketry thus ensuring the next generation of Cherokee basket weavers.

Watershed Association of the Tuckaseegee River Project purpose: To inventory stands of river cane in Jackson and Swain counties and obtain permission to harvest from landowners.