Books such as Heirlooms and Artifacts of the Smokies document not only the items that past residents owned, but the rituals and customs that surrounded them as well.
Photo courtesy of the Great Smoky Mountains Association, publisher.
An ethnographic resource is one held in the minds, memories, and customs of people who live in an area. In the Smokies, examples of ethnographic resources include Cherokee ceremonies, the stories that European settlers of these mountains tell, and the customs that many local families still have of visiting their relatives’ gravesites in the park each year.
Ethnographic resources are often intangible: we cannot hold an origin story, or a song that settlers sang to their grandchildren. What we can do is write these remembered pieces of culture down, as researchers do when they film interviews with former park residents and their relatives, and as the non-profit Great Smoky Mountains Association does in published books about local life. In addition to documenting lifestyles, the park can help preserve memories of the people who were here before by respecting their gravesites and the places they hold sacred.
To find more books such as the one pictured here about Smoky Mountain culture and stories, visit the Great Smoky Mountains Association website.
Return to Meet the Managers: Cultural Resources.