Photo of clouds Revitalization of Traditional Cherokee Artisan Resources

About RTCAR - Mission and Focus

RTCAR's mission is to preserve, protect and teach the heritage of Cherokee traditional resources, land care and culture. We serve the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians in its quest to restore the traditional Cherokee balance between maintaining and using natural resources like river cane, white oak and clay.

As a result of agricultural land clearing, dam-building projects, modern-era land development and other circumstances over the past century or more, the natural resources used by Cherokee artisans for centuries are becoming scarce on the Qualla Boundary and in other local areas. Quality river cane (Arundinaria gigantea) and white oak (Quercus alba) used to make baskets are very difficult to find locally, and so is the clay that Cherokee potters need. Carvers have resource problems as well because the wood and stone they need is often in areas with restricted access.

RTCAR's funding objectives are to:

  • Preserve and protect the uniqueness of Cherokee traditional art and natural resources for future generations.
  • Reclaim Cherokee youths' interest in cultural heritage using educational methods that promote Cherokee identity and the development of positive cultural esteem.
  • Expand and disseminate public knowledge about the protection and preservation of cultural artisan resources.
  • Expand and enhance the network of organizations that demonstrate leadership toward the realization of RTCAR's goals.

Initially RTCAR will focus on basket making materials and associated dye plants, clay for potters and materials for carvers. The project will eventually expand to include culturally significant edible and medicinal plant resources. Teaching Cherokee youth about the Eastern Band's artistic traditions is another aspect of RTCAR.

RTCAR is funded by Cherokee Preservation Foundation and operated through the Cherokee Reservation Cooperative Extension