Eastern Band Cherokee
Culture, Traditions, History and Foodways
With Nancy Plemmons
“The Eastern Band of Cherokee are renegades, we never left the mountains when the Cherokee were forced out!” Nancy Plemmons has shared this very important distinction between the Cherokee people. The South East U.S. mountain area (Appalachian mountains) was the home of the Cherokee for thousands of years. It is where they developed, learned and shared their culture, traditions, history, legacy and Foodways from generation to generation. It is what made them who they are. To take just one part of their dynamic story and share it, does not tell the full story. There is so much to share of the proud Native Americans who now occupy not only the mountain area of NC 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, which is filled with traditional and more contemporary recipes; she is an excellent cook. She is an artist with a very successful collection of original handmade jewelry. She is a Beloved Woman of the Cherokee Nation and held a very close bond with the Spiritual Leader, Walker Calhoun up until his death. He shared many of the Cherokee traditions which are 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 conversation with her.
During our conversation for the radio show, she shared how the Eastern Band Clans work together with the tribe to provide what’s needed and how that has not changed as time goes on. We talk about one of my favorite things, which is gathering edible plants from the wild and the roles gender play in harvesting and hunting for food.
The Cherokee Nation is a Matriarchal society where women hold the primary positions of power. 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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