Remnants of American Indian Life in the Blue Ridge
Spring is on its way out and summer is almost here, and as you travel the Blue Ridge Parkway this summer, look for the remnants of our Native American friends. The Blue Ridge Parkway extends nearly 500 miles along the crest of the Blue Ridge Mountains through North Carolina and Virginia; it encompasses some of the oldest settlements of pre-historic Native Americans.
The Cherokee Indians of North Carolina, and the Monacan and the now extinct, Saponi, and Tutelo Indians of western Virginia, were among the earliest inhabitants of the Blue Ridge, leaving artifacts and changes in the landscape as evidence of their existence.
Many of the fields that are still visible at the base of the mountains date back centuries, to ancient American Indian agricultural methods of burning and deadening the trees and underbrush to provide needed grazing and crop land. Mountain and river names along the Parkway also reflect the American Indian influence.
One of the best places to learn about the pre-history of the Appalachian chain in Virginia, is at the Peaks of Otter Visitor Center museum (milepost 85.9). Arrowheads and early tools found in the Peaks area are exhibited.
In North Carolina, the Parkway enters the Cherokee Indian Reservation at milepost 457.7 and features an informational display on the reservation at the Lickstone Overlook (milepost 458.9).
Images: by D L Ennis, Dancers at a Monacan Powwow
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