Tag Archives: Primitive Skills

History at Home

Updated September 18, 2020

Though our summer History at Home programs have come to a close for the 2020 season, we have great news!

Interpretive rangers Laura Ellis and Taylor Moorefield will be working several weekends during the Fall, Winter, and early Spring in order to make our Sabine Hill and Carter Mansion historic house tours more available.

Please check out our program offerings often.   They will be posted on this webpage under Monthly Interpretive Programs and also can be found on the registration site at,




Need additional information?  Please call us at 423-543-5808!


Our summer interpretive ranger programs begin on Wednesday, June 3rd!   From the top menu, choose Monthly Interpretive Programs/History at Home-Summer Ranger Programs, to meet Laura Ellis and Taylor Moorefield and learn more about their summer plans.

Their first schedule is posted at History at Home Summer Ranger Programs/History at Home June 3-14

Please note that in order to support CDC recommendations regarding social distancing, each program will require online registration with a limit of 10 per program.  We will be requesting a distance of 6 feet between program participants and hope you will wear your mask.

Most of our program opportunities are offered at no charge, with the exception of tours of the historic Carter Mansion and Sabine Hill which will begin in mid June.

For further information, please call the park at 423-543-5808.



Native American Culture Festival

25th annual

Saturday, and Sunday, May 30th and 31st, 2015

Sycamore Shoals State Historic Area is proud to announce our annual Native American Festival to be held Saturday, and Sunday, May 30th and 31st, 2015. This educational event provides the opportunity for our visitors to experience many facets of Native American culture, particularly that of the Cherokee.   The event opens on Saturday, May 30th, running from 10 am until 8:00 pm; and from 11 am until 4 pm on Sunday.   Most activities are held at Fort Watauga, unless it rains. In the event of rain the show will relocate to the Visitors Center.  On Saturday evening, a traditional campfire will be held at the far end of the meadow in front of Fort Watauga at 7:00 pm with several guest storytellers.

This weekend long festival will feature traditional and contemporary arts and crafts, traditional Native American song and dance, Cherokee storytelling and legends, Native American flute, Cherokee language workshops, and craft demonstrations and sales.

A unique feature of the Native American Culture festival is our educational/ demonstration area, located within Fort Watauga. The dance circle is located in the center of the fort, where the popular Demonstrating bow carvingtraditional dance and drum performances take place. In addition, flute music, storytelling, lectures, and so much more take place within the circle, which share native culture and history with our visitors.

The interior of the fort will also host a variety of excellent demonstrations, which include a children’s blowgun challenge, beadwork, gourd art, pine needle basketry, stone carving, Cherokee language, wood carving, flint-knapping, corn shuck dolls , native river cane flutes, pottery, and a replicated Cherokee cabin from the early 19th century with historical reenactors, Mark and Sherry Finchum.

Just outside the fort, exceptional Native American arts and crafts will be featured, in addition to ethnic Cherokee food, and a Lakota Tipi exhibit.

In our annual tradition, the circle will host several performances of Native American music, drum, and dance. The dancing demonstrations will include the Fancy Dance and Hoop Dance, the Jingle Dance, the Men’s Traditional, Grass and Straight Dances, and many more. All are invited to dance, so bring your regalia. Newly added will be a demonstration of 18th century Cherokee social dancing. The host of this portion of the event, Dale Cloer, makes his home in Cherokee, North Carolina.

IMG_3001Our featured Cherokee dancers are internationally known hoop dancer Eddie Swimmer, and champion powwow dancer Nikki Crisp!


Eddie Swimmer has captivated audiences Eddie Swimmer Crop 2across the globe using between 36 and 42 hoops. His accomplishments include a former World Champion Hoop Dancer title, performances in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City and in the World Cup Soccer Tournament in Dallas Texas as well as choreographing the Broadway show hoop dance for ANNIE GET YOUR GUN. Nikki Crisp as danced across the world as well, and has been performing for over 20 years. Her talents also include traditional beadwork and authentic frybread cooking. Nikki Crisp will be providing food vending for this event, including her famous Indian tacos.

Our 2015 featured Cherokee artist is Lola Swimmer, of Cherokee, NC. Her unique specialty is using feathers as her canvass to paint, landscape scenes, military style art, angels, warriors, eagles and much more. All her feathers are one of a kind with no two ever alike. She also does canvas art, prints, and face painting for the children.

Our 2015 featured storyteller is Freeman Owle. He is a noted lecturer, historian, and member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee, and has traveled all over the eastern United States lecturing to DSC00103various groups, which include churches, military units, and schools.   Freeman Owle has told stories and presented programs on Cherokee history and culture throughout the Southeast for more than ten years.

Well known in the Cherokee community, Freeman Owle serves on the board of directors of the Qualla Arts and Crafts Mutual and is a coordinator for the Cherokee Heritage Trails project of the Blue Ridge Heritage Initiative. He is one of the featured storytellers in the book Living Stories of the Cherokee, and he also appears in the video documentary Cherokee: The Principal People, which aired on public television in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Kentucky.

IMG_2946Our 2015 featured speaker is Dr. Michael Abram of the Cherokee Heritage Museum and Gallery in Cherokee, NC, who will provide a glimpse into Cherokee history and legend. He will give two lectures on Saturday, “Cherokee Cultural Masks in the 21st Century”, and “The Cherokee Four Winds,” inside the circle of Fort Watauga.

Dr. Abram has been presenting at this show since its beginning and is owner of the Cherokee Heritage Museum and Gallery. The gallery is presently being relocated from Cherokee to a location near Chattanooga. Dr. Abram has devoted his life to studying, preserving, and lecturing on Cherokee culture.

Daniel Bigay of Greeneville, TN will entertain with traditional flute music in addition to having his handmade, traditional IMG_2944Cherokee style flutes for sale. Daniel is a flute maker, Artist, Performer/Recording Artist, and demonstrator, who lives with his wife, Kay, in the mountains of Tennessee. He has released two CD’s, the most recent being nominated for best flute recording at the 2005 Indian Summer Music Awards. Daniel and Kay are passionate about education and sharing of the Cherokee culture in the school system, at Pow-Wow’s, and various shows and festivals.

Admission is $5.00 per adult, $1.00 for children. All proceeds from admissions go to Friends of Sycamore Shoals State Historic Area, to support this event. This event is made possible by the support of Friends of Sycamore Shoals State Historic Area, the DoubleTree by Hilton, and the Comfort Inn of Johnson City.

For information contact:

Sycamore Shoals State Historic Area  

(423) 543‑5808.

1651 W. Elk Avenue       Elizabethton, TN 37643





Steve Ricker, Interpreter for the Overmountain Victory Trail Association to speak at Friends of Sycamore Shoals Annual Meeting


Thursday, November 20            7 pm

Sycamore Shoals State Historic Area Visitors Center


Please join us at Sycamore Shoals on Thursday, November 20 at 7 pm for a wonderful evening of fellowship and storytelling as Friends of Sycamore Shoals hosts their annual meeting. Members and non-members alike are all invited to learn more about the accomplishments of our Friends group and the many activities & educational programming that take place throughout the year.

This year, we welcome Steve Ricker, Director of Interpretation for the Overmountain Victory Trail Association as our featured speaker. Born and raised in Greeneville, Tennessee, Steve makes his home with his wife, Susie, in the mountains of Greene County. His life’s calling, history and art, is evident in the way he lives his life and through his artistic creations.

???????????????????????????????Steve’s commitment to preserving the old ways is evident as he comments, “My passion lies in the ability to teach and share my knowledge and skills with people from all walks of life, be it Native American or Frontier skills, highlighting the importance of good craftsmanship.”   Mr. Ricker displays his work in many fine galleries both at home and abroad, researching the techniques and materials used by early frontiersmen and Native cultures, including weaponry and hide tanning for clothing and moccasins.

In the new Interpretive Exhibits at Sycamore Shoals you can see many examples of the fine work he and his wife, Susie, have created together.   On the mannequins, examples of hand dyed and sewn garments, along with all of their accoutrements, have been primarily made by the Rickers. Additionally, other examples of the tools used by both Native & Frontier cultures are on exhibit in the Visitors Center of the park.

Steve also volunteers at both Davy Crockett Birthplace State Park and Sycamore Shoals, devoted to helping promote the rich heritage of our area through the interpretation of frontier life, hunting techniques, building shelter, and wood-lore.

The program he will present for tonight’s meeting is the “Story of the Overmountain Settlements & the Battle of Kings Mountain.” Presented from a 1st person perspective, Steve’s presentation will take you back to 1780 when this pivotal event in American history took place. Inspired by his personal ancestry, Mr. Ricker is descended from Isaac Morgan of the Nolichucky Settlement who served under Colonel John Sevier.

Mark your calendars now for Thursday, November 20 at 7 pm and spend the evening with us at Sycamore Shoals State Historic Area.