Plans for a Living History Village

An important component of our Earth Skills Program will be a primitive village away from the distractions of modern everyday life. This living history village will consist of both Cherokee and pioneer style log cabins as well as bark lodges and wigwams. Among these structures, reconstructed from local and natural materials, both Cherokee and Appalachian pioneer life skills are to be demonstrated. For programs lasting a few days or up to several weeks, folks will live, eat, work and play in this uniquely authentic setting, with opportunities to reconnect with nature, create a live-in community, experience native culture, learn survival and pioneer skills and practice indigenous arts and crafts.

Our staff shall include crafts people, earth skill instructors, counselors, mentors and ministers. They role model for participants an earth-centered awareness by sharing games, storytelling, ritual, survival skills, foraging and gardening, as well as earth-skills and crafts such as basketry, hide tanning, woodcarving and blacksmithing.

All such hands on activities involve communion with natural elements. Through experiential learning participants gain appreciation and understanding of relationships and forces in nature. We teach participants about interconnectedness of life, attune them to nature and impart a deep appreciation for the earth as a living being with inherent beauty, purpose and design.

For youth groups and adults alike, we provide a multicultural experience close to nature. For historians and Native American cultural enthusiasts, we provide hands on experiential learning. For students of wilderness skills, we apply woods crafts, foraging and earth skills in the context of daily living situations. For those seeking to reconnect with nature, we provide a natural sanctuary in which to relax, re-balance and remember our Oneness with the Universe away from contemporary hectic work and life styles.

Our village also provides a kind of encounter group therapy, where participants learn how to work together to create a community. Leaving the twentieth century behind enables participants to discard previous prejudices, coping mechanisms and learned behaviors, opening the mind to personal insight and psychological breakthrough. Through improvisational role play, participants can shed their old cloak of personality and reshape a new one. The sheltered supportive community of the village can empower individuals to experiment and re create themselves and their world. The emotional receptiveness and vulnerability created when having to release one’s previous reality and adapt to a new cultural and environmental context, may be especially helpful to therapists working with special populations, such as adults in crisis or adjudicated youth.

In contrast to our instant gratification culture, applied hands on learning of new skills, crafts and participation in drama play stimulates the creative imagination of participants. New kinds of responsiveness will develop. Skills learned in the village will stretch the capabilities of each person to help them discover inner strengths and resources in the context of a safe and nurturing environment. Teamwork, developing trust, respect, cooperation and interdependence will be emphasized.

We provide opportunities for self discovery, the quest for personal mythic mission, to redefine one’s purpose in life. Our goal is to co-create an experience so valuable and penetrating that it causes one to ask fundamental questions about mankind’s place in the environment, our personal relationship with the natural world, and our identity within a social context.

Our concept for a working primitive village is fashioned after the Gaia principle. The Gaia theory (Lovelock and Epton, 1975) is a scientifically based synthesis of both geological/geographical research and aboriginal wisdom concerning the nature of planet Earth, hypothesizing the earth to be a living, self regulating organism. As participants work with nature and begin to appreciate more and more her beautiful cooperative and interdependent qualities, the earth is directly known to be alive and sacred. Our vision is to act as midwife in birthing a holistic spiritual consciousness, assisting individuals through emotional transition toward inner self awareness and outer harmony with the natural world. It is our hope that such experiences in our living history village will become a rite of passage for participants into a more holistic planetary awareness.