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Georgia Mountain Laurel Magazine

Museum Adds Cherokee Display

Jun 22, 2017 03:36PM ● By Tracy McCoy

Museum Adds Cherokee Display

The sights and sounds of Old Estatoe Village will once again be in Stephens County, thanks to a retired educator who couldn’t stop teaching.

Rosemary Miller spearheaded an effort to install a diorama in the Stephens County History Museum, depicting one of two large Cherokee villages that existed in the north part of the county. The idea grew after she saw similar dioramas in Cherokee, North Carolina and the Kolomoki Indian Mounds in Blakely, Georgia.

“I knew it would add another dimension to the museum,” she said. “This is a part of our history.”

Built by Jay Cooke of Production Construction, the diorama depicts a tranquil, everyday scene from the time when the Cherokee lived in Estatoe Village. A large council house sits atop a small hill with individual family homes and storage areas made of daub and waddle scattered around a green field. Two men work on a canoe, while another squats near the river, cleaning fish. Visitors can look at the scene from several angles, giving them an up-close view of Cherokee life.

The new display is next to a mural showing a scene from the second area Cherokee village, Old Tugaloo Town. The overall display will now give visitors a deeper sense of the people who lived here before it was Stephens County. A two-minute audio gives additional information about the Cherokee Nation.

The effort to get this into the museum included work from North Carolina to Arizona to Canada. The installation includes an audio element that uses equipment that comes from a Canadian company, Listen Digital Audio Electronics. The display case comes from Arizona, and the voice on the audio narrative is that of Michael Crowe, a Cherokee man from North Carolina. Originally, the voice-over was done by Phil Hobbs, General Manager at WNEG radio, but the script had to be re-written and sent to North Carolina.

Rosemary took on the privately funded project after a 40-year career in education, both in the classroom and as a resource teacher for the gifted. After retirement, she joined the Historical Society, going on to serve as both a board member and president. The connection goes further than just interest. Rosemary’s great-grandfather, a local doctor, owned the home on Pond Street where the Historical Museum was first housed.

Beyond getting the project started and implementing all the aspects, Rosemary also gave the display a personal touch by painting the background of the diorama.

“I feel like I left a little part of myself at the museum,” she said.

Though she led the way, Rosemary doesn’t think she is solely responsible for the final creation. She is thankful to Ray Ward, Roy Collier, Richard Thornton and Pat Fleming for helping her gather information. And she is especially grateful to Sam Caudell, Carl Williams and Gary Arkwood for building the wall the display case rests against, and installing the electrical outlet and wiring for the audio equipment.

And so, thanks to one woman’s effort, generations of Stephens County students will get to learn a little bit more about people who came before by just pressing the button, listening and learning.

Contact: Brenda Carlan


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