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Tennessee State Museum programs of interest this fall

by Cass Teague
The original beaded coat is on display in the TSM Forging a Nation exhibit.

During Native American Heritage Month, learn how the First Peoples of Tennessee lived, about their culture, and how they defended their homelands against European encroachment. The First Peoples exhibition features recent updates, including artifacts related to hunting and other lifeways of peoples within the Archaic Culture. The Tennessee State Museum has quite a few programs of interest this fall that you can attend in person or view online. Here are a few highlights.

First Peoples (13,000 BCE to 1760 CE): The first peoples of Tennessee arrived at the end of the Ice Age. Groups adapted as the climate changed, shifting from small hunting and gathering bands to complex farming societies. In the 1500s, Spanish explorers became the first Europeans to encounter the native peoples living in Tennessee. Cultures collided as more Europeans continued coming into the area. Learn how the First Peoples of Tennessee lived, about their culture, and how they defended their homelands against European encroachment.

An Exhibition Highlight: The Trail of Tears in Forging a Nation

The Forging a Nation exhibition highlights the hundred years (1760-1860) of achievements and challenges of the developing land that became Tennessee, the 16th state to join the Union. The Trail of Tears section displays the harrowing results of the clash between early settlers and Southeastern Indians.

Now on special temporary display is an original coat worn by a person forcibly moved from their home during that time. The coat from our collection is made of deer hide with fringe along the collar and bottom. Its style is a blend of European influence — with the cut of the coat being European-style — and traditional Cherokee details in the beadwork. This original coat, which will be on display until the end of December, replaces the replica typically on view.

An Event Highlight: African American Experiences in the Smokies

Antoine Fletcher of the National Park Service will discuss the work of the African American Experiences in the Smokies Project (AAESP), a program started by Great Smoky Mountains National Park (GRSMNP) to explore the lesser-known history of African Americans in the Smokies and Southern Appalachia.

Since the 1990s, the GRSMNP has documented over 150 cemeteries, but African American burials within these cemeteries are not as well documented as their white counterparts. This virtual event was presented Tuesday, November 15 as part of the TSM Historic Smokies Virtual Series. A recording of the event will be available at TNMuseum.org/videos.

Video Highlight: Music of Appalachia: The Sounds of the Smokies

Mark Freed, instructor of Appalachian Music at Appalachian State University, presented a lecture on Appalachian music, with a particular ear towards the sounds of Tennessee. Topics included music of the Cherokee, ballad singing, the use of folk instruments, sacred sounds, blues, and more. This event was presented in conjunction with the exhibition, “Painting the Smokies: Art, Community, and the Making of a National Park” on Saturday, November 12. It can be viewed anytime on the TSM website, https://tnmuseum.org.

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