KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — The Great Smoky Mountains National Park, in partnership with Friends of the Smokies, has received a grant to fund a program teaching the younger generation about the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians.

The National Park Foundation (NPF) Open Outdoors for Kids grants funds educational programs at national parks that integrate virtual and in-park ranger-led experiences. GSMNP’s grant will help fund the “Building Student Connections in the Smokies” project. This project supports the park’s initiatives “to have inclusive and culturally appropriate curriculum materials related to the Eastern Band of the Cherokee.”

“National parks are America’s largest classrooms, offering new and expanded learning opportunities for students,” said National Park Foundation President and CEO Will Shafroth. “Open OutDoors for Kids grantees are pioneering the ways kids and classrooms connect with national parks and experience — both in-person and virtually — the wonder and complexities of nature and history.”

The money will specifically go to support Kuwohi Days. Friends of the Smokies describes these days as “culturally relevant, curriculum-based education days at a significant spiritual site for the Eastern Band of the Cherokee.” The funds will be used to offer transportation to students and pay speaker honoraria for Cherokee elders and cultural leaders.

Kuwohi is a Cherokee word meaning mulberry place. This word gained prominence earlier this year when the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians began a campaign to change to name of Clingman’s Dome.

The funds will also support part of the salary for an 11-month Americorps member. This person will help in teaching during field trips and online programs. They are expected to reach over 4,500 students.