Learn ‘Roots of Wisdom’ at the Arboretum

Photo by Cortney Kerr

The North Carolina Arboretum, a 434-acre public garden located just south of Asheville in Pisgah National Forest, is showcasing the relationship between indigenous peoples and cutting-edge science at its newest exhibit, Roots of Wisdom: Native Knowledge. Shared Science.

On display through Sunday, May 6, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, inside the Arboretum’s Baker Exhibit Center, this national traveling exhibit educates visitors about the ways in which the traditional knowledge of native peoples and Western science are woven together to improve the natural world.

Featuring four indigenous communities, including the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, Roots of Wisdom shares inspiring stories of environmental and cultural restoration that society faces today. Through the voices of elders and youth, engaging video interactives and hands-on games, visitors will gather resources, examine data and take part in the growing movement toward sustainability and the reclamation of age-old practices. 

“At the Arboretum, our exhibits and educational programming often blend traditional heritage practices with modern science to help create a stronger connection between people and the natural world,” explained George Briggs, executive director of The North Carolina Arboretum. “Roots of Wisdom aligns perfectly with this mission, and we are excited to share it with our members and visitors.”

From restoring ecosystems to rediscovering traditional foods and crafts, Roots of Wisdom invites guests to understand the important issues that indigenous cultures face and discover innovative ways in which age-old traditions and Western science can work together to restore vital ecosystems, provide sustainable food sources and improve human health.

The North Carolina Arboretum is no stranger to working with native indigenous communities. Over the past several years, the Arboretum’s Germplasm Repository has worked with the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, United South and Eastern Tribes, and the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs to assist in conserving traditional ecological knowledge through a variety of initiatives. Led by Research Director Joe-Ann McCoy, Ph.D., the Germplasm Repository has become a valuable partner in the conservation and study of black cohosh, ginseng, ramps and other native plants, and helps conserve the tribes’ native and culturally significant plants.

“We are thrilled that this exhibit includes the stories of our regional neighbors, the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians,” commented Briggs. “We hope that Roots of Wisdom will help shine light on the great work that the Cherokee have done in both the past and present to preserve this beautiful, botanically-diverse region.” 

For more information on the Arboretum and Roots of Wisdom, please visit www.ncarboretum.org.

About Shelby Harrell
Shelby Harrell is the editor of the Biltmore Beacon, editor of The Guide arts and entertainment publication and is a staff writer for Mountaineer Publishing. Originally from Asheville, she has worked in journalism for seven years and currently lives in Clyde, NC.