Only 52 miles from Smokies Cabins in Townsend, TN, lies Cherokee, NC – the home of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. The Cherokee once inhabited Townsend and the entire Smoky Mountain region. Today many live in Cherokee, where the Native American culture still thrives. This charming town and its friendly people are well worth a day trip from Townsend, especially for history buffs.
Rob and I have visited Cherokee, NC, a few times to learn more about these previous inhabitants. We have come upon impromptu Indian powwow demonstrations, in and around downtown Cherokee. The fascinating tribal outfits and props, drumming, storytelling, dancing, and historical references made the experiences feel authentic and truly entertaining.
Key Cultural and Historical Attractions
- Oconaluftee Indian Village, an authentic 1750s Cherokee “living village” demonstrating daily life and culture
- Museum of the Cherokee Indian, showcasing the whole 10,000+ year Cherokee experience with engaging, interactive presentations
- Qualla Arts & Crafts, featuring handmade, authentic Cherokee arts and crafts from America’s leading Native American cooperative
- “Unto These Hills…a retelling,” America’s foremost outdoor drama that tells the Cherokee story from the Cherokee perspective (not the whitewashed version you may have learned in school)
Here’s a video about things to do in Cherokee: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9v0RqYWdHMo
The Cherokee Indians, a branch of the Iroquois nation, trace their history in this region back more than a thousand years. Originally their society was based on hunting, trading, and agriculture. By the time European explorers and traders arrived, Cherokee lands covered a large part of what is now the southeastern United States. For more information on Cherokee communities, seven clans, chiefs and democratic process, and matriarchal society, see https://www.nps.gov/grsm/learn/historyculture/cherokee.htm and https://visitcherokeenc.com/play/culture/history/. The Cherokee once used the Townsend mountain hollow in which Smokies Cabins are located as a sacred meeting place for these seven clans.
How to Get to Cherokee
The scenic route from Townsend along Hwy 321 N through Wears Valley connects with Old State Hwy 73 in Sevier County and then becomes Hwy 441 S leading into Cherokee. The picturesque route takes about an hour and a half, depending on traffic and season. This cultural and historical day trip, in its beautiful Smoky Mountain setting, is a fascinating day trip and a great way to support local indigenous people. Then at the end of your day trip, come back home to Smokies Cabins (www.smokiescabins.com) and settle in for the night.
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