Great Smoky Mountains National Park invites visitors to experience the We Are Grateful Otsaliheliga Storybook Trail on Saturday, October 8, through Friday, November 12, on the Oconaluftee River Trail near Cherokee, North Carolina. This unique opportunity allows visitors of all ages to learn about Cherokee culture through dual-language storybook panels along the one-mile trail beginning at the park boundary in Cherokee, North Carolina, to the Oconaluftee Visitor Center.
“I encourage you to enrich your fall Smokies visit by taking this walk through ancestral Tribal lands and immersing yourself in the Cherokee language, culture, and the thoughtful ways we can all celebrate the gifts of the seasons,” said Superintendent Cassius Cash.
The award-winning children’s book allows readers to follow the seasons with a Cherokee family who celebrate each season with an expression of gratitude. The book is the first storybook trail of its kind to be translated in both Cherokee and English languages. Each storybook panel includes the phonetic pronunciation for Cherokee words and the full Cherokee Syllabary translation. Language translations for the book were made possible by the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians Speakers Council, Traci Sorrell, Bo Lossiah, and Laura Pinnix with support from New Kituwah Academy, Cherokee Central Schools, Kituwah Preservation and Education Program, and Museum of the Cherokee Indians.
The self-guided storybook trail is free and available to the public, seven days a week, from October 8 through November 4. Parking is located near the park entrance on the west side of Highway 441 in Cherokee. On Saturday, October 8, the first ten families to hike the storybook trail will receive a free copy of the book. Visitors on this day will also have the opportunity to attend additional events occurring in the area. From 8 a.m. to midnight, archery, blowgun, dancing, and stickball demonstrations will take place as part of the 110th Cherokee Indian Fair at various locations in Cherokee. From 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., visitors can learn how to make lye soap, brooms, and wooden crafts as part of the Smokies Harvest Celebration at the Mountain Farm Museum near the Oconaluftee Visitor Center.
The We Are Grateful Otsaliheliga children’s book is the sixth book to appear as part of the Storybook Trail of the Smokies series, which is an initiative designed to encourage literacy, promote healthy living, and inspire stewardship in nature. A partnership among Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, University of Tennessee Extension Cocke County Office, and Great Smoky Mountains Association is responsible for the creation of these fun and educational storybook trail experiences. The Storybook Trail of the Smokies is funded by a grant secured by the UT Extension Cocke County Office through the Juanita H. Fasola Foundation Inc. Later this fall, the We Are Grateful Otsaliheliga Storybook Trail will move to a trail location on the Tennessee side of the park. Follow the Storybook Trail of the Smokies Facebook page for more information on the books, author events, and activities to accompany each book. The We Are Grateful Otsaliheliga book may be purchased at any park visitor center or online.