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BACKGROUND FOR DEVELOPING CONCEPTS

This section contains concepts for preserving, protecting, and presenting to Visitors the heritage resources of the Lower Mississippi Delta Region. The concepts are drawn from the "Stories of the Delta" and the historic sites, museums, festivals, and natural areas that help tell those stories. (Please see appendix C for a list of heritage resources included in the concepts.)

The configuration of the concepts reflect the major role the Lower Mississippi Delta Region has played in shaping and defining our national character. Civil War battlefields, frontier foils and settlements, plantations, rural communities, river towns, trails, and ancient mound sites dot the landscape and give visitors a sense of the range of important events that have occurred here. It is the combination of these resources and the Deltaís history, its songs and stories, and the lives of its people that complete the components of this regionís rich and varied heritage. The men, women, and children of a hundred cultures, languages, and nationalities made and lived this heritage, and in turn, were changed by it. The challenge for today is to find viable ways to preserve and protect for future generations the important stories and resources that illustrate the struggles and triumphs of those peoples that lived that heritage.

Ten concepts are presented in this section and all concepts, in some fashion, address all the "Stories of the Delta" described in the previous section. Separate "story" concepts were developed in response to directions in the Delta Initiatives legislation and to facilitate a better understanding of the stories, resources, and people of this large geographic region. Although seemingly discreet in their subject matter with suggested boundaries where appropriate, it is important to keep in mind how the people, events, and resources in the Delta are interconnected.

This interconnectedness is illustrated in the comprehensive concept which presents a cross section of all the "Stories of the Delta" and a sampling of the resources related to those stories. If this concept were to be implemented, resources that represent stories of the Mississippi River and the natural environment. Delta cultures and cultural expressions, social and political Influences, and the Delta and the national economy would be chosen to represent what is important and essential for visitors to know and understand about the Delta as a whole.

The entire Delta would be the focus of this heritage tourism concept. Emphasis would be placed on the interrelationships between stories, resources, and people in understanding the complexity of this unique region. Visitors would learn of the geologic events and the human manipulation that have so dramatically changed the Mississippi River system over the centuries. Visitors would also appreciate and understand human cultural interactions that have occurred here ó from early encounters between mound building societies to the clashes between the north and south during the Civil War. By not only recounting the usual stories of the battles and the destruction of the Civil War, but by also offering visitors opportunities to learn about the social and political interactions of the periods leading up to and after the war, they will better understand and appreciate the interrelationships of people, places, and time in the Delta.

The other nine concepts presented in this section in some way relate to the comprehensive concept but also delve into the specific topics in more detail. Each concept outlines a goal for the configuration; describes the importance/significance of that "story"; and lists the resources that could be used to implement that concept.

It must be emphasized that these concepts do not represent the only configurations of resources that could be used to preserve, protect, or present the heritage of the Delta to visitors. These are representative resources, and from the planning teamís perspective, present viable opportunities for initiating heritage tourism efforts in the region. Further planning efforts may refine, add to, or eliminate the present choices. Those choices must be made at a more detailed level of planning and in coordination with state and local resource specialists.


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