Cherokee, North Carolina
Cherokee NC is a sort of touristy town just south of the Smokey Mountain park, and part of the Cherokee Reservation. There are a lot of souvenir stores, but we like it. Around the 4th of July , the have a Pow Wow. We went one year, and enjoyed it a lot, especially my daughter , who's one great grandmother was supposedly Cherokee.
There is also the Oconalufte Indian village ( see link), plus if you like to gamble , some casinos.
Just south of the Great Smoky Mountains NP, the Cherokee Indian Reservation is the ending point of the Blue Ridge Parkway and an obliged point of interest.
Some stores carry Indian artifacts, although hardly "genuine" stuff.
Mingo Falls are a must see, probably the best out of the sevral falls we saw along the entire Blue Ridge Parkway.
Seeing the Mingo Falls is enough satisfactory. No need to scramble through the woods and climb up their top. While there, somebody did and got stuck without being able to make the slippery way back. The local rescue team was mobilitated and the small parking lot was soon clogged with ambulance, police, fire and rescue vehicles preventing most cars - including ours - to be able to leave until the operation was completed.
Near the southern end of the Blue Ridge Parkway, just before the border with Tennessee, is the reservation town of Cherokee. The souvenir shops here tend towards the tacky, but I thought the museum was excellent and well worth the trip and a lengthy stop. Checking out its website to write this tip, it seems that the museum has been added to and improved further since our visit, so I would definitely recommend a visit.
The museum aims to tell the history of the Cherokee and their ancestors from twelve thousand years ago through the present. Exhibits include the "Story Lodge" where ancient Cherokee myths appear through computer animation (this is new I think since our visit), early tools and artefacts, the origins of Cherokee medicine, festivals, craft objects etc. The most moving area tells the story of the Trail of Tears, regarded as the most significant event in Cherokee history. Between June and December 1838, more than 15,000 Cherokees were forced to depart their homes in the southern Appalachians and walk more than a thousand miles to Indian Territory. Between 4,000 and 8,000 Cherokees died on "Nunahi-duna-dlo-hilu-i", the Trail Where They Cried.
The museum also has a very good crafts shop run by Qualla Arts & Crafts, a Cherokee-owned-and-operated arts and crafts co-operative.
Open daily at 9 a.m. except on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day. Admission is $9 for adults, $6 for children (ages 6-13), and free for children under 6.
Like its northern park entry town Gatlinburg, Tenn., Cherokee is full of tourist traps, junk, and adds in fake indian products made in China. Of 55 national parks in Canada and the United States, Nationa Geographic Traveler Magazine (Jul-Aug. 2005) rates the park near last on its "Stewarship Index" because of the "appalling," "distasteful," gateways of Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, and Cherokee." If you visit Cherokee, by all means skip the indians with the fake teepees in front of the souvenir stands and visit Ocanaluftee Indian Village which is operated by the Eastern Cherokee tribe and has authentic reproductions of the types of homes Cherokee lived in and see demonstrations in making blowguns, baskets; or see the play "Unto these Hills" which describes the history of the tribe, and the disgraceful "Trail of Tears."
The town of Cherokee is located on the Cherokee Indian Reservation. I thought it was a nice place to visit. Lots of interesting shops & activities to see and do. I would love to come back and stay here someday. It's very scenic, and definitely worth a stop.
Watch the craftspeople work. You may get volunteered to help.
'Unto These Hills' There is an outdoor drama portraying the history of the eastern band of Cheroke. I believe it is evening only except Sunday. Mid June - August are the dances. Located on US Hwy 441 north. This is a seperate show from this village tour.
A bit on the tourist-trappy side, but something about this place always feels right to me. Always lots to see and do.