The Indian Trail Arts and Historical Society’s roots grew out of the Centennial Committee established by the Town of Indian Trail in 2005. Following a successful Centennial Celebration in 2007 a number of the original centennial members decided to continue working together and reorganized as the Indian Trail Arts and Historical Society. The Society was incorporated in the State of North Carolina in 2010 to:
- Research and preserve the history of Indian Trail,
- Educate the public, especially our children, about its history,
- Celebrate Indian Trail’s heritage by promoting arts and cultural activities; and
- Design our programs where possible through partnerships.
ITAHS is a charitable non-profit based in North Carolina and meets the qualifications for exemption from the provisions of the NC Charitable Solicitation Act. Contributions are also deductible under Section 170 of the IRS Code.
Our mailing address is: ITAHS, P. O. Box 1650, Indian Trail, NC 28079
The following article was published in Charlotte Observer on February 20, 2011, and can be found in its original form here:
Town’s art honors Native Americans Indian Trail’s first public art will go in new park.
By Marty Minchin
Special CorrespondentPosted: Sunday, Feb. 20, 2011 Long before a railroad track and busy two-lane road crossed downtown Indian Trail, Native Americans walked along a footpath through the area for trading and traveling. Centuries later, local leaders are placing a bronze bust of an Eastern Woodland Indian to honor them in the town’s new Crossing Paths Park. The idea for the bust came from the Indian Trail Arts and Historical Society, which was formed out of the town’s Centennial Committee several years ago. “When the idea came up, to me it was a great idea,” said Steve Houser, a society member and teacher at Providence Springs Elementary. Houser grew up in Indian Trail, and he remembers finding arrowheads on family property near downtown and hearing stories about the trading path. The trail was called the Occaneechi Trading Path, and it stretched from Petersburg, Va., through the Waxhaws region and ran close to Interstate 85. The path forked in Mecklenburg County, and one spur went to Indian Trail and Waxhaw. “I have been intrigued by the idea of the town originally being a trail that was used by native people,” Houser said. “I was always proud of that. I just thought this town has such a rich heritage.” Houser said he had seen busts honoring people in other states, and he liked the idea of representing Indian Trail’s past with something similar. He spent months researching and interviewing scholars and residents around the state. His goal was to recreate a likeness of an Eastern Woodland Indian before the native people came into contact with European settlers, which would have been before the 1600s. “Coming up with a rendition of a native person was not easy,” Houser said. “There were no photographs.” He found drawings from the 1700s, but he wanted something earlier. His breakthrough came at Town Creek Indian Mound in Mount Gilead, where he saw busts of Siouxan people based on information a forensic expert had compiled. Houser did more research, slowly putting together a picture of an Eastern Woodland Indian. The society then contacted sculptor Chris Gabriel, who is based in Charlotte and specializes in wildlife sculpture. Some of his work is featured at the North Carolina Zoo in Asheboro, including large sculptures of an aardvark, ball python and dung beetles. Gabriel sketched the Native American based on the research, drawing a face that would represent the wide range of Indians who would have used the trail. He then sculpted the 27-inch high bust out of modeling clay, which would not dry as he worked. The society approved the clay piece, and now it is being cast in bronze. “I learned a lot,” Gabriel said. “I grew up in Charlotte, but I didn’t really know all the history that was right there all the time.” The project has cost the society about $11,000 and taken about two years. Later this year, the bust will be placed at Crossing Paths Park. The bust will become the town’s first public art. Jesse Jacobs, chairman of the Metrolina Native American Association, said he’s seen the bust and approves of the research and depiction of the Native American. “I have no problem with it as long as what’s being said is truthful and documented,” Jacobs said. Houser said he is pleased that the bust is a “reasonable representation of the woodland people of this region. “A really good effort has been made to make this as authentic as possible,” Houser said. “Speaking for myself, even when Indian Trail was a very small place, there’s a lot of pride and community spirit, a lot of respect for what the town is and what it represents.”