Cherokee is the gateway to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the Blue Ridge Parkway. The Cherokee Indian Reservation provides visitors from all over the world the opportunity not only to learn, but to also experience a living history.
The Museum of the Cherokee Indian
The Museum of the Cherokee Indian showcases 11,000 years of Cherokee history through ancient artifacts, life-size figures on display, computer-generated media, artwork, and large and small-scale dioramas of scenes from what it might have been like centuries ago. It is “one of the top ten native sites east of the Mississippi,” said Kevin Gover, Director of the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian.
For years, the museum has created “The Cherokee Experience” for groups, such as the University of Pittsburg, Warren Wilson College, University of Massachusetts, Murphy Middle School, Macon Middle School, North Carolina Center for the Advancement of Teaching, the National Park Service and many more. Through experiential workshops, tribal members share the Cherokee culture. These “Cherokee Experience” workshops include storytelling of Cherokee history and culture, music and dance programs, a nature walk, a hands-on craft workshop, lectures by educational scholars, step-on tour guides for Cherokee heritage trails, and a traditional Cherokee Indian dinner.
The museum hosts many events throughout the year, such as traveling exhibits including “Emissaries of Peace,” The Cherokee and British Delegations, Cherokee Voices Festival on June 9, and the Southeast Tribes Festival Sept. 14-15, 2012.
For more information about tours and the educational programs, contact Reservations Specialist, Eddie Swimmer at [email protected] or at 828-497-3481.
Oh the Drama!
A popular form of entertainment in Cherokee is the outdoor drama, Unto These Hills. The drama is about the Cherokee people and their struggles throughout the Trail of Tears. Performed in an amazing mountainside theater surrounded by lush vegetation and the beauty of nature, this show is sure to keep students on the edge of their seats.
The drama is set in a Cherokee village, pre-1800s and reenacts much of the Cherokee history with scenes showing The Council of the Chiefs, Cherokee celebrations, the treaty that required all of the Cherokee people to move to Oklahoma, The Trail of Tears, the escape of brave warriors and more.
The Oconaluftee Indian Village takes visitors back to the mid-18th century when culture was in the midst of change and caused major challenges for the Cherokee people. During tours, students will be able to interact with villagers, create their own pottery and masks, learn how to weave baskets and about the craft of bead-working, as well as participate in what would have been the daily activities of the Cherokee people. Live reenactments and interactive demonstrations also provide a fun learning experience.
The mid-1700s was a time of war. At the Village, students can witness the reenactment of conflicts that led the Cherokee people from their peaceful existence into war. There are also performances of traditional warrior dances where actors are dressed in period clothing.
Discounts for groups of 15 or more at Mountainside Theatre and the Village.
For more information about Unto These Hills or Oconaluftee Indian Village, call 828-497-2111 extension 215 or 866-554-4551 or email Mike Lambert at [email protected].
The Great Outdoors
Cherokee, North Carolina is not only rich in culture, but also rich in beauty. The reservation offers a wide variety of safe hiking, biking, whitewater rafting and kayaking, fishing, camping, birding, tubing and much more. One of the most visited spots is Mingo Falls, also known as Big Bear Falls in the Cherokee language. It is two-hundred-feet of cascading water and known as one of the most beautiful waterfalls in the mountains of Western North Carolina
When visiting the surrounding Blue Ridge Parkway, there are many pull-off areas where your group will have the opportunity to stop, picnic and photograph the landscape.