The Snowbird Day School evolved from Quaker led initiatives in the late 19th century to educate young Cherokee Indians living in Tuti yi, a Native community in Western North Carolina. By the early 20th century, the school was administered by the federal government via the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and as with most federally-run schools for Native students, it sought to assimilate Indian youth into white, Anglophone culture. Over the course of nearly seven decades, an estimated 550 students attended the school before it was closed in 1963 due to federal desegregation efforts.
Today, approximately 80 former students are still living, including the last surviving teacher, 93-year-old Louise Lee. In partnership with the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI), Trey Adcock, will use the Fellowship to collect and preserve oral histories, mainly in the Cherokee language, and digitize historical artifacts that tell the story of the Snowbird Day School. Adcock will collaborate with tribal members to design a multi-media digital gallery and a photography exhibit that will travel throughout Western North Carolina before joining the permanent collection of the Junaluska Museum, located in the Tuti yi community.
Adcock, an enrolled member of the Cherokee Nation, helped author a resolution in support of the project that was passed unanimously by the EBCI tribal council. As a collaborative, tribal-led initiative, Tuti Tsunadelogwasdi Uninohelv (Stories of the Snowbird Day School) will bring Cherokee communities together to reflect on their history, document the experience of cultural transition, and contribute to the preservation of their language.