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Fort Loudoun to Commemorate 250th Anniversary of Henry Timberlake’s Visit to the Cherokee Overhill; June 23-24 Events

Wednesday, June 20, 2012 | 11:25am

Celebration Will Also Commemorate Tennessee State Parks’ 75th Anniversary 

VONORE, Tenn. – The year 2012 marks two important anniversaries at Fort Loudoun State Historic Park, including the 250th anniversary of British Lieutenant Henry Timberlake’s visit to the region in 1762 and Tennessee State Parks’ own 75th Anniversary. To help commemorate these two important milestones, the Sequoyah Birthplace Museum and Fort Loudoun State Historic Area will hold a variety of programs and activities on Saturday and Sunday, June 23-24.  

This living history event will allow visitors a chance to experience the same sights, sounds, tastes and smells that Lt. Timberlake experienced when he first visited the region 250 years ago. Dozens of craftsmen and demonstrators will be on hand to recreate items that Timberlake documented on his first visit. Visitors can also tour the newly installed exhibit at the Sequoyah Birthplace Museum, called The Emissaries of Peace: The British and Cherokee Delegations of 1762.

“At the time, Timberlake could not have known that the events already taking place in the area would change the world,” said Park Manager Will Kinton.  “He literally stood in the middle of it all, serving as both active participant and accidental historian.” 

In 1760, in what is now considered the town of Vonore, Cherokee Indians captured British Fort Loudoun and eventually killed more than two dozen of its inhabitants. Less than two years later, Timberlake voluntarily walked into the middle of the very same Cherokee village – the location where the siege was planned and the warriors involved no doubt still resided – in hopes of establishing a lasting peace.

Following the siege of Fort Loudoun, there were two recorded campaigns against the Cherokee, resulting in more losses for both sides. Peace was eventually negotiated, but with neither side trusting the other, the Cherokee asked the British to send an officer to their villages on the Little Tennessee River, near present-day Vonore, to explain the treaty. Lt. Henry Timberlake volunteered to go.

“Timberlake took a huge leap of faith and risked his very life to ensure peace. In doing so, he also ensured his place in history,” added Kinton.  “He kept detailed journals during his time with the Cherokee, which included information about Cherokee life in the Tennessee Overhill and even a map of the area. His accounts were published as his memoirs following his death – becoming a basis for all subsequent anthropological and historical studies of 18th century Cherokees.” 

At Sequoyah Birthplace Museum, living history demonstrations will include a Cherokee stickball game; finger weaving; stamped pottery; river cane basket weaving; 18th century demonstrators in costume; the Warriors of AniKituhwa, a Cherokee dance group; flute and storytelling; guns and diplomacy; moccasin making; a blowgun competition; and authentic Cherokee food.

At Fort Loudoun, there will be guided tours of the Little Tennessee Valley; lectures about Timberlake’s visit; and demonstrations of 18th century map-making techniques.

Certified Cherokee guides provided by The Museum of the Cherokee Indian will lead the tours from Fort Loudoun to historic sites at Toqua, Ballplay, Tanasi and Chota, following the footsteps Timberlake described in his own memoirs. Guided bus tours will leave six times a day throughout the two-day event, at a cost of $5 per person.   The lectures and map-making demonstrations also will be held both days at Fort Loudoun and are free.

The Sequoyah Birthplace Museum and Fort Loudoun State Historic Area are located less than a mile apart on Highway 360 in Vonore, Tenn.  This program was funded in part with a grant from the Cherokee Preservation Foundation and Humanities Tennessee.

For more information or to make a reservation for the guided tours, please contact The Sequoyah Birthplace Museum at (423) 884-6246 or visit the museum’s website at www.sequoyahmuseum.org. Additional information about the Emissaries for Peace event can also be found on the Friends of Fort Loudoun Historic Area’s website at www.fortloudoun.com or by calling (423) 884-6217. 

Fort Loudoun State Historic Park is a 1,200-acre site on the location of one of the earliest British fortifications on the western frontier, built in 1756.  Nearby were the principal towns of the Cherokee Nation including Tenase, namesake of our state, and Tuskegee, birthplace of Sequoyah.  Today, the fort and the 1794 Tellico Blockhouse overlook TVA's Tellico Reservoir and the Appalachian Mountains and are located one mile off Highway 411 on Highway 360 in Vonore.  For more information about the park or a complete schedule of events, please contact the Fort Loudoun State Historic Park office at (423) 884-6217 or visit the website at www.tnstateparks.com/FortLoudoun

Tennessee's 54 state parks and 82 state natural areas offer diverse natural, recreational and cultural experiences for individuals, families or business and professional groups.  State park features range from pristine natural areas to 18-hole championship golf courses.  For a free brochure about Tennessee State Parks, call toll free at 1-888-867-2757. For upcoming events in connection with the 75th Anniversary of Tennessee State Parks, please visit the state parks website at www.tnstateparks.com.

In commemoration of the 75th Anniversary of Tennessee State Parks, the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation launched an innovative new microsite at www.tnstateparks75.com.  Established in partnership with the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development, the microsite displays Tennessee State Parks’ rich heritage and showcases the many outdoor adventures awaiting state park visitors through rich media and dynamic content.

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