Yesterday morning, we woke to an early breakfast and a sunrise paddle on the river down to the Catawba Indian Nation. There we met Ronnie Buck, the head of music education and all-around handyman on the reservation. We received the grand tour of the old wagon trail the tribe used to travel from village to village along the river, and of the cultural center where many artificats, old and new, were on display. We even were lucky enough to have him sing a traditional song with drum accompanyment for us. After we set up our camp and grabbed some lunch, we were tasked with helping them clear a major trail from the cultural center to the river. What was interesting was how the storm that caused the trail to be covered with debris was the same storm we experienced on the very first night of our trip.
Learning about the Catawba Indians that have lived on the banks of this river since long before European settlers arrived helped give our highway of travel a lot more character. They heavily relied on the river for food, water, swimming, transportation, fishing, and recreation, much in the same way we are using it during this trip. Rivers provide such an important role in the people's lives that live along it, and yesterday was an excellent testament to that fact.