Tanning is the ancient craft of transforming animal skins into durable leather. It was widely practiced in the southern mountains by both the Cherokee and early European settlers as part of their household self-sufficiency. The most common technique was vegetable tanning, which employs tannic acid leached from bark. This practice relied on abundant supplies of oak, hemlock and chestnut trees and was used to treat the hides of livestock, deer, and small mammals. Tanners used much of the leather they produced on their farms and sold the rest in the local community. Many small farmers supplemented their incomes by peeling bark and hauling it to nearby tanneries. A surviving specialty of this vanishing craft is the tanning of groundhog skins, which are prized as the best material for making banjo heads.
Below is the Digital Heritage Moment as broadcast on the radio:
- Logging Industrial logging came to Appalachia with the railroad in the late 19th century. As timber supplies in the Northeast and the Great Lakes regions dwindled, National Lumber Corporation […]
- Old Growth Forests Old-Growth forests conjures up visions of the great forests that once covered most of eastern north America, and of towering trees undisturbed by logging and human settlement. They provide […]
- Storytelling in the Southern Appalachians This project will expose children to the art of storytelling with Southern Appalachian folklore. Students will create a handbook which depicts the changes in the western North Carolina […]
- Lady Bird Johnson
On March 14, 1967, Lady Bird Johnson, wife of President Lyndon B. Johnson, arrived in Jackson County, North Carolina. She had come to visit the Canada community elementary school. As a […]
- Families in Western North Carolina This is a Second Grade Lesson Plan. This unit integrates Communication Skills Lang Arts Social Studies History Art Technology and Information skills in an interesting and informative way. [...]