Smokies ponders proposal for Cherokee to harvest sochan
The National Park Service wants your opinion on a proposal that would allow the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI) to gather the green spring leaves of the sochan plant in the Great Smoky Mountains.
The agreement would mark a historic change by allowing the tribe to harvest a culturally-significant plant inside the park boundary.
Road signs clearly spell out the park's longtime "picking plants prohibited" policy in the Smokies. Just outside the national park in Cherokee, North Carolina, Jarrett Wildcatt's family has been forced to travel long distances to continue a tradition of picking sochan.
"Sochan, I would consider it a native delicacy. I learned how to harvest it from my grandma and my mom. We usually would drive near Murphy (around 60 miles away) for a good place where we are allowed to pick the greens. We can't go to the park right beside us," said Wildcatt. "We inhabited that land for at least 14,000 years, but have not been able to harvest sochan there since the national park was created."
Sochan is recognized in late-summer and fall for its tall yellow flowers. The plant is found in abundance along rivers and trails, including the paved path to the observation tower at Clingmans Dome.
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