At Wild South, we believe it is our responsibility and privilege to play an active role in training the next generation of environmental leaders. Central to Wild South’s mission is our commitment to training these bright and wonderfully talented young people. We bring them face-to-face with the challenges of the environmental movement and provide the best skills and resources we can.

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Article Originally Published in the Smoky Mountain News

Editor’s note: In April 2009, the non-profit organization Wild South was notified by the Cherokee Preservation Foundation of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians that it and partner organizations Mountain Stewards and the Southeastern Anthropological Institute had been awarded a grant to complete a project called the Trails of the Middle, Valley and Out Town Cherokee Settlements. What began as a project to reconstruct the trail and road system of the Cherokee Nation in Western North Carolina and surrounding states became a journey of geographical time travel. The many thousands of rare archives scattered across the eastern United States that proved “who, what, why, when and where” also revealed new information as to what transpired on and around these Cherokee trails that we were mapping.

By Lamar Marshall • Contributing writer

It was a hot day even at 5,000 feet elevation when we parked the car at Indian Gap on the crest of the Great Smoky Mountains and began mapping the route of the ancient Indian Gap trail that connected the Cherokee claims and hunting grounds of Kentucky with the Middle and Out Town Cherokee settlements.

Armed with 10 years of research, 50 years of cross-country experience, maps, GPS, food and water, the two-person Wild South team (Duke intern Kevin Lloyd and myself) started south toward Qualla Boundary, home of the Eastern Band of Cherokees, which lay about 14 miles away. Of course, it would take many days to map the route across the rugged terrain we were about to encounter.


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