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Western Carolina University created the Mountain Heritage Award in 1976.  According to then Chancellor, H.F. Robinson, the award recognizes “outstanding contributions to the preservation or interpretation of the history and culture of Southern Appalachia, or for outstanding contributions to research on, or interpretation of, contemporary or future problems which threaten the quality of life of the people of the region.” In 2007 the award committee recommended that the award be split into two categories—individual and organization—to better reflect the unique contributions of each.

Mountain Heritage Award Winners By Year

Year Name of Winner
1976 John Parris
1977 Cherokee Historical Association
1978 Leona T. Hayes
1979 H. F. Robinson
1980 Henry Arvel Greene and Jane Patton Greene
1981 Asheville Citizen-Times
1982 Douglas James Ferguson
1983 John B. Battle
1984 Old Buncombe Genealogical Society
1985 Penland School of Crafts
1986 Mary Ulmer Chiltosky
1987 Jackson County Historical Association
1988 Mars Hill College
1989 Mary Cornwell
1990 Joe Parker Rhinehart
1991 Hugh Morton
1992 Qualla Arts & Crafts, Mutual
1993 John C. Campbell Folk School
1994 William Douglas Davis
1995 Bea Hensley
1996 Robert Bushyhead
1997 Cradle of Forestry in America
1998 Museum of the Cherokee Indian
1999 Mary Jane Queen and the Queen Family
2000 Southern Highland Handicraft Guild
2001 Young Adult Choir, Tried Stone Missionary Baptist Church
2002 Mountain Dance and Folk Festival
2003 Ray Hicks
2004 Walker Calhoun
2005 Haywood Community College Professional Crafts Department
2006 The Deitz Family
After 2006, the award was seperated into two categories: Individual and Organizational
Year Name of Winners
Individual: Arvil Freeman
Organization: Warriors of Ani-Kituhwa
Individual: Gar Mosteller and Doyle Barker
Organization: Green Grass Cloggers
Individual: Amanda Swimmer
Organization: Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Individual: Annie Lee Bryson
Organization: Shindig on the Green
Individual: Lloyd Arneach
Organization: Stecoah Valley Center
Individual: Rob Tiger
Organization: Jackson County Genealogical Society
Individual: Susan Morgan Leveille
Organization: Catch the Spirit of Appalachia