Adventures in Storytelling

— Written By Dee Decker and last updated by
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booksWe all have a story to tell. Stories that are full of daring and breathtaking adventures, bravery and fierce pride when overcoming obstacles or tall tales with suspenseful, uplifting and surprise endings.

When tourists visit our beautiful and scenic area, hike in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park or spend a day at Fontana Lake, do they know the vast and rich history of this area? Storytelling is the perfect opportunity for us to provide education to tourists, youth and local residents.

How many people know about the sacrifices that local families made during the creation of the Great Smoky Mountains Park, the building of the TVA’s Fontana Dam or even earlier history of the dangerous logging days or the Cherokee Trail of Tears, Kituwah Village of yesteryear? Have they heard about the families who were once landowners, loggers, farmers, who attended church and schools on land that is now part of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park? Do they know about the once thriving and productive communities and towns that lie quietly beneath the waters at Fontana Lake?

Sharing our many stories provides a creative and meaningful connection to the history and culture in our community. Storytelling offers a unique opportunity to inspire, influence, change lives and to educate. Yes, it’s that powerful.

Stories bind families and communities together and reminds of us of who we are and where we came from. Stories can teach us to respect other cultures, and to promote a positive attitude about our differences and tell us who we are today, since we are part of those people in the stories that came before us.

So, why not share stories about the rich and alluring Appalachian history with others so that they will have a better understanding and deeper appreciation of our spirited culture.

Appalachian culture is unique, storied and often misunderstood, but through telling our stories, we have the power to bring listeners from all ages and backgrounds together. Every person in our area can be included in this grassroots approach to community awareness.

A few exciting, interesting and captivating ways to bring storytelling to life include sharing them through traditional music and dance, photographs, folk life plays, walls of wonder and history walks.

people in graveyardHere are a few facts about story telling:

  • People find it easier to remember stories rather than statistics and overwhelming data.
  • Stories are often more believable and have more credibility that empirical studies.
  • Stories make more of an emotional impact and are more relatable to people.
  • Stories can be used to invoke interest in a community project (this is a hint).
  • Stories can be used to “sell” an idea because it puts the listener at ease (another hint).

What are we doing to tell our story? We are asking you to join with us in spreading the word about our culture, sharing a piece of our history and preserving our heritage. If you are interested in learning more about a developing project that will tell our story, please contact the Swain Extension office at (828) 488-3848 for more information.