Tyson Sampson (they/them/he/him) is an Eastern Band Cherokee Indian (ᎠᏳᏫᏯ ᎨᏯᏔᎯᎤᏁᏉᎳᏗᏍᎩ). Tyson has been educating about harvesting and processing regional flora for 21 years.
“As a kid I always thought we gathered food from the woods because we were poor. As an adult I realized we went to the forest because it brought joy to my Grandma and all her sisters!”
Tyson organizes their relations to document culturally sensitive life-ways to prepare the next wave of Traditional Ecological Resiliency. The collective is referred to as the Bigwitch Indian Wisdom Initiative.
Their project is rooted in Cherokee cultural knowledge and values. Tyson’s group has been working together to learn and share Cherokee plant knowledge over many decades.
Tyson stated, “our circle includes Elders, historians, mentors, Cherokee plant experts, and fluent speakers who grow and gather food, walk in the woods together laughing and crying in ways which honor our people, the ancestors and the ancient homeland that shapes who we are.”
While this group works to advocate for Cherokee land practices, the initiative’s purpose is to ensure that Cherokee plant knowledge continues to be shared within the local Cherokee Indian community given the high demand and the current risk of losing this knowledge forever.
Tyson would like to give an abundant praise, acknowledgment, and gratitude to their local Indigenous family and ancestry. For without them, they would not be here today to share and encourage others to connect a healing journey into their own lineages.