Courtesy Oconaluftee Indian Village
Published April 01, 2014
Cherokee, North Carolina
It’s hardly fair to say that one site captures all the Native American culture in the town of Cherokee, North Carolina, where almost everything is connected to the Cherokee people and their heritage.
The Museum of the Cherokee Indian is a good place for history buffs to investigate the centuries-old story of the Cherokee. Or visitors can see the work of modern Cherokee artists and crafters at the Qualla Arts and Crafts Mutual and go home with authentic baskets, pottery, wood and stone carvings, or beadwork. And the outdoor drama “Unto These Hills” tells the story of the Cherokee, from their origin through their zenith of power in southern Appalachia, then on to their Trail of Tears and, finally, to the present day.
But there is another place in Cherokee where visitors can step back in time and see costumed guides cooking, building houses or making crafts. The Oconaluftee Village hosts live re-enactments throughout the day — three a day in summer months — that each tell a different story about Cherokee history.
“We come up with different series of re-enactments to do, like the Time of War series, which includes a prewar council meeting, a battle scene and then the aftermath where they decide what to do with the captives they’ve taken,” said Laura Blythe, village director.
Each year, the staff adds new productions so that repeat visitors will have a chance to learn new facts about Cherokee history.
“When people see true history, it surprises them and gets rid of their misconceptions. People are surprised to see our people wearing trade cloth instead of buckskin, or that we didn’t live in tipis and move around,” said Blythe.