Local Non-Profit to Develop Interactive, Web-Based Map and Virtual Tours of Cultural Geography of the Cherokee People in Western North Carolina

ASHEVILLE, N.C. (Dec. 20, 2012) – Wild South today announced it has been awarded a $20,000 developer grant from Google Earth Outreach to create an interactive, web-based Google Earth Map, virtual tours and a smart phone application that will provide a geographical, cultural history of the Cherokee people of Western North Carolina that led to the establishment of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians.  Google Earth Outreach developer grants are awarded to select non-profit organizations to support use of Google’s mapping technologies in novel, cutting-edge ways to make the world a better place.

logo-Google-earth“Our goal with the grant is to preserve and reconstruct the ancestral geography of the Cherokee people, including historic town sites and the expansive Cherokee trails system, which serves as the basis for our modern-day transportation system in the Southeast,” said Lamar Marshall, cultural heritage director at Wild South, an Asheville-based non-profit that protects the wild character and natural legacy of the South. “This tool will be an incredible way to explore a cultural landscape that until now has been lost and in some ways, not possible to experience in traditional ways.”

The project is a first-of-its-kind, interactive atlas of Cherokee historical geography including photography, oral history video clips and historical data such as the ancient trail system and towns of the Cherokee homeland. It will also feature a progressive, chronological account of the migration of the Cherokee Indians as they were pushed off their traditional lands, first by British colonists and later by the United States of America during the Removal Period. For the general public and visitors to the Qualla Boundary, the web-based map provides a new way to appreciate a landscape and its people, informing the modern narrative of the Cherokee’s sense of place with a deeper look at the cultural shifts and patterns that have affected an entire nation of people. Additionally, the effort to locate and identify these trails will help to protect corridors that include 49,000 acres of national forests.

Since 2008, the Eastern Band and Wild South have worked side-by-side to develop a comprehensive map of Cherokee cultural geography beginning with the European contact at about 1700 up until the mid-1800s. With support from the Cherokee Preservation Foundation, Wild South has collected rare archives, early land records and surveys, and has conducted extensive field surveys, photographed geographical sites and filmed oral histories and traditions.

Asheville-based web and mobile application development firm TopFloorStudio has been selected to produce the interactive, web-based Google Earth Map, virtual tours and smart phone application.

Google Developer Grant to Benefit Eastern Band

“We are excited and inspired by this especially important project,” said Ty Hallock, C.E.O. of TopFloorStudio. “It represents the convergence of the innovative technologies that Google has with Google Earth and the local history and the cutting edge applications that TopFloorStudio will create.”

The work is expected to be completed by late spring 2013, allowing for school systems to incorporate the resources into their geography and history curricula. Tourists will be able to use the website, map and mobile application to help plan their visit to Cherokee, N.C., so that the trip incorporates many opportunities to enhance their experiences with the outdoors and the Cherokee people’s living history and culture.

About Wild South

Wild South inspires people to enjoy, value, and protect wild places and wild things across the South’s public lands. The Asheville-based non-profit has helped protect half a million acres and numerous species since its inception in 1992. With its efforts rooted in the science and practice of conservation biology and cultural values, Wild South blends knowledge and advocacy to sustain ecosystems and the health of the region’s communities. Wild South gives voice to public land management, mobilizes volunteers to care for the land and educates and prepares organizations, individuals and younger generations to take responsibility for the environment. Wild South’s power team consists of eight staff members, an active 14-member board of directors and more than 15,000 supporters and volunteers. More information is available at wildsouth.org.

About TopFloorStudios

TopFloorStudio provides leading-edge interactive web development and smartphone mobile application development, web communities, communications services, integrated marketing, multimedia production, and web programming for enterprises of all sizes.  TopFloorStudio was founded in 2003 in the vibrant town of Asheville, North Carolina, where our studio remains. We define our success by the success of our clients and thrive in long-term collaborative partnerships. We now have more than 200 clients including many Fortune 500 companies. We also take pride in our strong network of creative and technical professionals that we tap on a daily basis to continually open new doors and create value for our clients.


Jennifer Vincenzo McLucas

Jennifer McLucas PR

jenvincenzo@yahoo.com | 828-335-2514


  1. Troy Simpson on December 20, 2012 at 4:00 pm

    That is too cool….