two days, Bloodroot, a well-used dye for Cherokee artisans, was
a topic of conversation and action. The hows and whys of cultivating
your own personal crop was an hour long workshop, the first one
being at the Oconaluftee Indian Village. Questions included: where
best to plant, how much sunlight, watering, how far to plant the
roots apart, and preparing for the seeds were covered.
At the Village, Davy Arch, an EBCI tribal member who is the
manager for the Botanical Gardens at the Village, took the group
into the Botanical Area to plant. They started by sprinkling a lite
dusting of lime and some compost, mixing and spreading this out
evenly, putting holes six inches apart, and the roots planted. It
may be three years before these will be ready for harvesting for
dye material, but if it were to be used for medicinal use, it would
be six years.
Allison Dressler, a research assistant with the Mountain Horticultural
Crops Research & Extension Center, commented, "It was inspiring
to hear so many people already knew about the use of Bloodroot for
a dye, but also that it is also known for its medicinal uses as
well. To hear one basket maker share that she finds her bloodroot
dyes darker on the full moon, than at other times, and then asked
by another if we had the moon chart for dyes, which we don't, but
that would make for another interesting project."
On Friday, the planting group was supposed to work with Cherokee
High School and Sara Thompson, but due to the rain it was moved
to the following Tuesday. Visiting with teachers at the Kituwah
Immersion School, they gave them a few of the Bloodroot kits. Special
plantings were done at the houses of Shirley Taylor, Berdina Salazar
and Annie James.
A small plot was cleared of rocks, roots and debris, a mixture
of lime and compost was added to the ground, then holes about six
inches apart were made for the roots to be placed in. After covering
the roots, some dry leaves or debris was placed on top to help retain
The workshop was overseen by Jeanine Davis, associate professor
and extension specialist in the Department of Horticultural Science
at N.C. State. Margaret Bloomquist, a research assistant with the
Mountain Horticultural Crops Research & Extension Center, and
Dressler did the main presentation about Bloodroot. Part of the
project is compiling video footage, taken by Kelly Gaskill, of the
workshop and the planting. The project is funded in part by the
Cherokee Preservation Foundation.
Shi-yo and welcome to beautiful , gateway to both the Great Smoky
Mountains National Park and the Blue Ridge Parkway. We invite you
to enjoy the many fun and relaxing things to do such as the Oconaluftee
Indian Village, "Unto These Hills" Outdoor Drama, Museum
of the Cherokee Indians and Qualla Arts and Crafts Mutual.