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WNC recipients of Folklore awards

art folkloreNumerous Western North Carolina residents and organizations received awards by the North Carolina Folklore Society, which will be celebrated at 2:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 10, at the N.C. Center for the Advancement of Teaching in Cullowhee.

The recipients are as follows:

• The Community Traditions Award — Mountain Heritage Center

Since 1975, the Mountain Heritage Center of Western Carolina University has demonstrated a commitment to community engagement and service to the region through its celebration of cultural heritage, educational efforts, research and Mountain Heritage Day Festival, which celebrated 41 years in 2015. Over the last 40 years the MHC has curated a collection of 10,000 artifacts that pertain to the history, natural history and culture of the region. This collection benefits research and award winning exhibitions put together by staff and WCU students.

• The Community Traditions Award — Goings Family

The family of accomplished professional artisans committed to preserving Cherokee traditions, have demonstrated a lifelong commitment to traditional crafts. Their passion for Cherokee craft and culture is seen in their work and commitment to passing on craft traditions through community education efforts. The family’s commitment to traditional crafts has persisted through generations.

• Brown-Hudson Folklore Award — Bill Crawford

Crawford received the honor for his work as a folklore researcher and genealogist. Crawford documents cemetery decoration traditions in Southern Appalachia and volunteers for and attends cemetery decorations throughout the region. These events bring community members together to honor and remember deceased neighbors and friends, and Crawford firmly believes cemetery traditions celebrate the character and contributions of local people.

• Brown-Hudson Folklore Award — Roger Howell

Howell received the honor for his work preserving and celebrating regional music traditions. Howell strives to document both the sonic and cultural aspects of the Appalachian music landscape. He spent years working on the “Memory Collection,” a compilation of 532 fiddle tunes, folk stories, and tributes to master musicians. The collection is housed at Mars Hill University’s Southern Appalachian Archives and will eventually be available online for public use. 

Related Items

• Brown-Hudson Folklore Award — Philip E. (Ted) Coyle

Coyle received the honor for his dedication to North Carolina folk culture through scholarship, teaching, fieldwork, and direct service. From 2001-2009, Coyle did ethnographic work for the National Park Services; his oral history interviews and assessments feature tradition bearers from along the Parkway and around the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The materials have influenced the management of traditional cultural landscapes in the area.

• Brown-Hudson Folklore Award — Tom Belt

Belt received the honor for his dedication to Cherokee language revitalization through advocacy, teaching, and grassroots organizing. There are less than 300 speakers who grew up with Cherokee as their first language, and Belt meets regularly with elders of this generation to learn the nuances of the language. He then incorporates such subtleties into his teaching of students across the age spectrum, ranging from college-aged students at WCU to preschool through elementary-age students at the New Kituwah Academy, the Cherokee’s language immersion program. He also works with a Cherokee language consortium to expand new words, like computer, into the vocabulary.

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