On October 6th, 2012, Kids in Parks celebrated a new partnership by celebrating the grand opening of the Oconaluftee River TRACK Trail in Cherokee, NC. The Oconaluftee River TRACK Trail trailhead sign and self-guided brochures include elements that are translated into the Cherokee syllabary, making this the first bi-lingual TRACK Trail in the Kids in Parks network of trails. The use of the syllabary helps kids from the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians stay connected with their culture, while raising awareness about the use of the language for non-native visitors as well.
The Oconaluftee River TRACK Trail follows the Oconaluftee River Trail for 1.5 miles from the Cherokee Indian Reservation Parking Area to the Oconaluftee Visitor Center in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The trail features interpretive panels about Cherokee folklore, and passes under the terminus of the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Jason Urroz, the Director of the Kids in Parks program, said of the TRACK Trail in Cherokee, “We are excited to partner with the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians and Cherokee Choices to install a TRACK Trail along the Oconaluftee River Trail. Together we are providing opportunities for local kids, as well as visitors to the region, to get “un-plugged”, get outdoors, and get connected with the history, culture and natural elements that make the region and people so special.”
“The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians are honored to partner with the Kids in Parks program to develop a TRACK trail as part of the Oconaluftee River Trail. We are dedicated to providing children and their families with the opportunity to experience nature while learning about our culture through the floral and faunal diversity of this region. I look forward to enjoying the TRACK trail with my children and with other children both from our community and those who are visiting the area,” Principal Chief of the Eastern Band of Cherokee, Michell Hicks stated.
“It has been a pleasure to work with the Kids in Parks program to provide the community with a TRACK trail. We are so excited to be able to offer four different adventures along the Oconaluftee River Trail. Like the majority of the country, our children are plagued with the threat of childhood obesity and all of the illnesses that come with that. It is our hope that the TRACK trail adventures will encourage children to get outside more, become physically active and therefore decrease the likelihood of becoming ill later in life,” said Tinker Jenks, Healthy Roots Coordinator/Cherokee Choices.
Address to trailhead: Barclay’s Parking Area/Oconaluftee Trailhead, US 441/Tsali Blvd., across from Acquoni Rd.
Phone Number for More Information: (828) 554-6782
About the Eastern Band of Cherokees and Cherokee Choices
The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians lives in Western North Carolina on 56,000 acres known as the Qualla Boundary. The Boundary is adjacent to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the Blue Ridge Parkway. The tribe has over 14, 500 tribal members and have lived in this region for generations. The Cherokee people continue their traditional lifestyle of fishing, hunting and gathering wild foods from the mountains as well as enjoying modern careers. The tribe operates the Cherokee Indian Hospital Authority, tribal services for visitors and member residents and Harrah’s Cherokee Casino & Hotel. For more information visit us on the web at www.nc-cherokee.com
Cherokee Choices works to mobilize the community to confront environmental and biological factors that put Cherokee people at higher risk for diabetes.
The cornerstones of this program are listening to the community and providing social support to increase physical activity and promote well-being and healthy choices, which can reduce the risk for obesity and diabetes. This approach makes Cherokee Choices different from the top-down programs typically provided by social service agencies.
Healthy Roots is a program within Cherokee Choices. The goals of this program are to increase the availability of local, traditional foods, as well as, to promote and increase the usage of trails among the members of the Cherokee community.
For more information on Healthy Roots, please call Tinker Jenks at 828-554-6788. For information on Cherokee Choices, please call Sheena Kanott at 828-554-6782.