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3/24/04 - Senate Majority Leader Bill Stephens and Rep. Calvin Hill designate Native American center in Cherokee County

Funk Heritage Center designation

Today, Senate Majority Leader Bill Stephens (R-Canton), in partnership with Representative Calvin Hill (R-Canton), passed legislation designating the Funk Heritage Center at Reinhardt College as Georgia's official Frontier and Southeastern Indian Interpretive Center.  This center, located in Waleska, Georgia, is a museum and pioneer village interpreting the history and culture of the southeastern Native Americans.

"The Funk Heritage/Bennett Center is truly an asset to Reinhardt College and the people of Georgia, and I am delighted that it has received the recognition it deserves," remarked Senator Stephens.

Representative Hill added, "I have no doubt this center will encourage education and understanding of the rich history of Native Americans in our area."

Representative Hill offered the bill in the House, and Senator Stephens handled the bill in the Senate.

Reinhardt officials were quick to voice their gratitude to Hill and Stephens for their support.

"We are delighted with the recognition the Funk Heritage Center has received as Georgia's official Frontier and Southeastern Indian Interpretive Center. At Reinhardt College we are committed to the preservation and discovery of the history of our region, and this important designation is an indication of the quality of this valuable program," said Reinhardt President Dr. J. Thomas Isherwood.

JoEllen Wilson said the designation would help give credibility to the Funk Heritage Center. "We often hear from visitors that the Center at Reinhardt College is one of the 'best kept secrets in the state.' This designation will not only lend credibility to the Center, but it will help us communicate the fine quality of what we have to offer. I applaud Senator Stephens and Representative Hill for their efforts on our behalf," she said.

The Director of the Center, Dr. Joseph Kitchens, also applauded the designation. "Because of our physical location and our focus on the Southeastern Indians, the Funk Heritage Center is ideally positioned to serve the citizens of Georgia as an official designate," Kitchens said. "Adjacent to the historic sites along the Chieftains Trail, including the Cherokee capital at New Echota, we have taken as our mission interpreting the region's Native American and frontier history. Our positive relationships with state parks and historic sites, the Historic High Country Travel Association, and the region's other private museums provide an opportunity for effective collaboration with our neighbors. We are delighted by the possibilities."

The Funk Heritage Center is located on the Reinhardt College Campus. It interprets and exhibits paintings, sculptures, and other creative works of contemporary southeastern Native American art and includes a permanent collection of antique hand tools used in trades such as rope making, shipbuilding, and bookbinding. In addition to their extensive exhibits, the center holds educational programs, performances, and demonstrations.

The bill now goes to Governor Sonny Perdue for his signature.

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(This basic release was distributed by Senator Stephens' Office, and Reinhardt officials added the quotes above.)

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