In 2000, the Echota Cherokee Tribe purchased land in the mountains of northern Alabama with donations from Tribal members and a $15,000 grant from United Airlines. The Echota then turned to the Alabama Mountains, Rivers, and Valleys RC&D Council to help them develop plans to reestablish their community education facilities and then turn those plans into reality. In 2001, the Echota opened a dialogue with the RC&D Council, which helped them visualize how they could make their dreams of deepening their connection to their heritage a reality.
Through a series of meetings, a multi‐point project developed. The key elements of the project included:
• Land purchase funded by the Echota Cherokee tribe and a United Airlines grant
• Office trailer purchase funded by the Alabama Historical Commission and Echota Cherokee tribe • Cultural Trail developed by the RC&D Council and the Echota Cherokee
A bluff trail was mapped out featuring native plants and bluff shelters that identify native plants used by the Cherokee in everyday life for medicinal, cultural, ritual, spiritual, and nutritional uses. The RC&D Council and the tribe jointly funded the trail construction and provided technical assistance in plant identification.
• Teaching station design and construction
Stations were strategically located to provide scenic vistas where Native American culture can be taught. The RC&D Council and Echota tribe funded the stations.
• Establishment of a Cherokee Maize Garden
The RC&D Council located a source of Native American maize in Georgia that provided seed for the garden.