Nominations sought for Mountain Heritage Award

The late John Parris, first recipient of the Mountain Heritage Award, is shown with his wife, the late Dorothy Luxton Parris.

The late John Parris, first recipient of the Mountain Heritage Award, is shown with his wife, the late Dorothy Luxton Parris.

Western Carolina University is accepting nominations for the Mountain Heritage Award, an honor bestowed annually on one individual and one organization playing a prominent role in researching, preserving and/or interpreting Southern Appalachian history, culture and issues.

Nominations for the award will be accepted through Wednesday, July 15.

The university instituted the Mountain Heritage Award in 1976, and the first recipient was the late writer and journalist John Parris. Many of the icons of Western North Carolina’s traditional culture have received the award over the years, including Cherokee potter Amanda Swimmer, photographer and conservationist Hugh Morton and organizations such as the Old Buncombe Genealogical Society, the Tried Stone Missionary Baptist Church Choir and the John C. Campbell Folk School.

Last year’s award winners were Davy Arch, internationally renowned Cherokee artist and mask-maker, and the Bethel Rural Community Organization, a nonprofit created to “to perform programs and projects that enhance the quality of rural life in Bethel Community.”

The university has given two awards annually, one for a person and one for an organization, since 2007. One award was presented each year from 1976 to 2006.

The awards are presented at Mountain Heritage Day, the university’s celebration of traditional Appalachian culture that takes place on the last Saturday each September.

Davy Arch (left) receives the 2014 Mountain Heritage Award for an individual from WCU Provost Alison Morrison-Shetlar at the Mountain Heritage Day festival.

Davy Arch (left) receives the 2014 Mountain Heritage Award for an individual from WCU Provost Alison Morrison-Shetlar at the Mountain Heritage Day festival. (Click photo to enlarge)

Letters of nomination should not exceed five pages and should include the full name of the individual or organization being nominated, with a website address if applicable; the mailing address of the nominee; the founding date for organizational nominees; a list of the nominee’s accomplishments; a list of the awards and other recognitions received by the nominee; information about the nominee’s influence in the relevant field of expertise (such as crafts, music or organizational cause); and information about the nominee’s role as a teacher, advocate, leader or preserver of mountain culture.

Nomination letters may be hand-delivered to the Mountain Heritage Center at its new location in the Hunter Library building, Room 240; mailed to Mountain Heritage Center, 1 University Drive, Cullowhee NC 28723; or emailed to Pam Meister, MHC interim director, at pameister@wcu.edu.