Eastern Band Cherokee
Culture, Traditions, History and Foodways
With Nancy Plemmons
“Eastern Band Cherokee are renegades; we never left the mountains when the Cherokee were forced out!” Nancy Plemmons shared this significant distinction between the Cherokee people. The South East U.S. mountain area (Appalachian mountains) was the Cherokee home for thousands of years. It is where they developed, learned, and shared their culture, traditions, history, legacy, and Foodways from generation to generation. And, it is what made them who they are. It does not tell the full story to take just one part of their dynamic story and share. There is so much to share of the proud Native Americans who now occupy not only the mountain area of N.C. in what Nancy calls the “boundary” but the connection that still holds strong with the Western Band of Cherokee.
I sat down with Nancy to talk about her life growing up Cherokee and carrying those traditions throughout her life. Nancy is the author of the cookbook Cherokee Cooking – from the mountains and gardens to the table, with traditional and more contemporary recipes; she is an excellent cook. She is also an artist with a very successful collection of original handmade silver jewelry. Nancy held a very close bond with the Spiritual Leader, Walker Calhoun, until his death. She shared many of the Cherokee traditions passed from one generation to the next through conversations and not written. Nancy’s love for her culture and traditions is felt each time you sit down for a meal or chat with her.
Nancy shared how the Eastern Band Clans work together to provide what’s needed and how that has not changed as time goes on. We talk about one of my favorite things: harvesting edible plants from the wild and the roles gender plays in harvesting and hunting for food.
The Cherokee Nation is a Matriarchal society where women hold primary power positions. Nancy shares how this difference in the Cherokee society shapes their day-to-day lives, especially in assigning clan membership and various responsibilities.
Nancy’s cookbook – Cherokee Cooking – From the mountains and gardens to the table
Gather ’round and listen to the lively conversation with Annita and Nancy. And, if you would like to learn more or visit the National Park Service – Historic Trail of Tears, click the links below.
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