SMOKY MOUNTAINS, Tenn. (WATE) — You can’t miss the sense of pride in Appalachian culture, history, and music right here in East Tennessee.

The stories and images often paint a portion of the people behind them, and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is looking to preserve the legacy of the African American experience within the park.

There are stories untold deep in these mountains. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is currently unwrapping lost history in the Smokies Project.

“Just to start, the beautiful thing about the Great Smoky Mountains National Park are the stories that we have. We have human vestiges back to 9,000 years, so we have stories of the Eastern Band of Cherokee, early White settlers, and African Americans,” Park Ranger Antoine Fletcher said.

Fletcher manages the project helping peel back the layers to reveal the African American footprint in the mountains.

“There are plenty of African Americans in the region, but the stories after so long kind of have been whitewashed, but also just forgotten. And so, the project, the African American Experiences in the Smokies Project, when it started in 2018, what we wanted to do was start to build these stories,” he said.

Using records and family stories, the project is coming together and where the records stop, technology steps in.

“The cemeteries tell a rich story. We’re able to look at that. And what we do here is we use ground penetrating radar,” Fletcher added.

Giving a more accurate depiction of the souls buried in the park and who they were.

“The Turner family was around since the 1800s and with the turner family we just find out this rich history of, you know, marriages between Whites and Blacks during the time,” he said.

But it is not just about stories of the past.

“One story that really helps with this is Daniel White. Daniel ‘The Blackalachian’ White story, which was, you know, he hiked the Appalachian trail, again, not the first African American but he was one of the few that hiked it,” Fletcher said.

The park is looking to answer so many questions for those who may not feel a connection with the Great Smoky Mountains.

“How was it for African Americans in the civil war? What about slavery? Then you go up to Jim Crow times. We also were capturing the voices of African Americans, contemporary voices through oral histories, to ensure that you know, 100 years from now, people will know about these people,” Fletcher said.