Sochan Gathering for Traditional Purposes
Great Smoky Mountains National Park is proposing to enter an agreement with the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI) under 36 CFR Part 2 Final Rule on Gathering of Certain Plants or Plant Parts by Federally Recognized Indian Tribes for Traditional Purposes (Plant Gathering Rule). The Plant Gathering Rule authorizes agreements between the National Park Service and tribes to facilitate continuation of tribal cultural practices in National Parks where those practices traditionally occurred. The proposed agreement would establish a management framework for sustainable gathering of sochan (Rudbeckia laciniata) by EBCI members for traditional purposes.
The EBCI is a federally recognized Indian tribe. The Cherokee people were the aboriginal inhabitants and keepers of a vast geographic landscape covering parts of eight southeastern states. That landscape sustained the Cherokee culture, lifestyle, and identity. The Cherokee people, and their presence and use of the area now encompassed by GRSM, predates the Park by thousands of years. The Park contains a rich abundance of consumable botanicals that continue to be an important component of Cherokee traditional diet and culture.
The Tribe and GRSM have initiated consultation for plant gathering and formed a Plant Gathering Rule Implementation Group to facilitate development of an agreement that meets requirements in the Plant Gathering Rule. Prior to entering the plant gathering agreement with EBCI, GRSM is preparing an environmental assessment (EA) to meet requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act. The proposed action addressed in the EA is to enter into a plant gathering agreement with EBCI and to authorize plant gathering through issuance of a special use permit. The purpose of the action is to allow sustainable, traditional plant gathering by EBCI members. The EA will examine alternative actions and potential environmental impacts associated with plant gathering.
Dana Soehn (865) 436-1207