Cherokee Heritage Itinerary -- Stop 8 Rivercane Walk at Campbell Folk School
From Peachtree Street in Murphy, take 64 east. After about 4.5 miles, turn right onto 1548/Old US 64, which will carry you 2 miles into Brasstown. The John C. Campbell Folk School is located on Folk School Road in Brasstown. At Clay’s Corner, a small convenience store, turn right onto Brasstown Road. You’ll see the entrance to the Folk School as soon as you cross Brasstown Creek. Folk School Road is on the left.
The John C. Campbell Folk School in Brasstown is a good place for a day-long adventure. Founded in 1925 by John and Olive Dame Campbell, the Folk School was originally envisioned as both an economic and cultural catalyst, a community center where area residents could learn to make and sell traditional crafts. Today the Folk School draws students from around the world to learn weaving, blacksmithing, pottery, woodcarving, and many other crafts from some of the best artists in their respective fields.
Along Brasstown Creek on the Folk School property is the newly-created Rivercane Walk, a 1.5-mile self-guided tour on which visitors can learn about Cherokee life in Aquohee, a village that stood nearby until the time of the Trail of Tears. Patches of rivercane line the creek today, as they would have in the 1830s. These canebrakes are an indication of the fertility of the ancient floodplain, where generations of Cherokee people lived and farmed. An important material for building, as well as for tools and artwork, rivercane is still used by today’s Cherokee craftspeople.
Contemporary sculpture lines the Rivercane Walk. A sourwood sculpture by Cherokee artist John W. Grant depicts Uktena, a feared serpent in Cherokee folklore. Joel Queen’s “Corn Maiden,” carved of black locust, is an abstract vision of Selu, the first woman in Cherokee mythology, who brought corn to the earth. Another Cherokee artist, Davy Arch, contributed locust sculptures representing the seven clans – the Bird, Deer, Wolf, Wild Potato, Long Hair, Blue, and Paint Clans.
Photo: Rivercane basket by Eva Wolfe; photo by Rob Amberg
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