Cherokee, North Carolina
Cherokee Museum Website
The Cherokee Indians were the first to be charmed by the natural beauty of the mountains, fresh flowing streams and rivers, and clear blue sky in what they called ‘Land of the Blue Smoke’, or Smoky Mountains as we know them today.
Now it’s your turn to be charmed.
Encircled by majestic mountains, Cherokee North Carolina is a Smoky Mountain destination with plenty of fun activities – museums, amusement parks, casino, hiking trails, scenic drives, and great shopping.
And there are plenty of ways to relax, too. Sit by a waterfall or a swift-flowing stream, picnic under a lush canopy of trees, stroll along a river path – it’s all waiting here for you.
Cherokee is a great combination of lots of fun things to do in the midst of incomparable natural beauty. Just a short drive on Highway 19 south, or at Soco Gap, take the Blue Ridge Parkway
Oconaluftee Indian Village
Oconaluftee Indian Village
The wood smoke drifting on the breeze isn’t like any you’ve smelled before. It’s not the pure tang of hardwood burned for heat. Nor is it the aroma of a cooking fire, fragrant with baking bread or bubbling broth or roasting meat. There’s something earthy about this fire, because it’s smoldering pitch pine, firing local Cherokee clay into gleaming blackware pottery. Then again, all the sights, sounds, and scents surrounding you today are novel. Here in the Oconaluftee Indian Village, it’s 1750. You’ve been taken back two centuries before your birth, and the old Cherokee ways are alive all around you. Another smoke trail draws you to a shaded clearing where a man is doing … well, it’s not quite clear yet. He seems to be burning the flattened topside of a huge, felled tulip poplar log nearly 40 feet long. Clay is packed around the edge of the log to contain and direct the fire. This log, he explains, will become a ten-man canoe, waterproofed by animal fat and pine resin. It may take six’ to eight months of burning to fully hollow out the craft, but it will serve the whole village for fishing and voyaging and will last for generations.
Now you enter the great seven-sided council house, where a third fire glows. It is sacred fire, kept burning to symbolize the strength and unity of the Cherokee people, and used to kindle the fires in every village household. This council house, like those in every Cherokee village, has seven bench-lined sides to seat the seven clans:
In Oconaluftee, you’ll find no separation between art and utility. The flint nappers craft arrowheads with deadly beauty, each sharper than steel, all as singular as snowflakes. The carvers create masks that come alive when danced around a flickering fire, and pipe bowls that please the hand and eye and spirit.
Just as it takes time to craft all these items, so it takes time to appreciate their crafting. And that, in turn, takes being here. Do come. We look forward to sharing our beauty with you.