Cherokee, comes from a Creek word “Chelokee” meaning “people of a different speech.” It is a city filled with a rich history and lasting culture of the Cherokee Indians. This city has much to offer from outdoor activities, cultural arts and crafts, to family entertainment. This popular stop in Western North Carolina is sure not to disappoint.

Here in their ancient homeland, the North Carolina Cherokee still compete in bowmanship and blowgun contests, they play the ancient game of Indian Ball and participate in other primitive games and dances that were begun centuries before the white man ventured into the region.

A vivid reminder of what life was like among the Cherokees 250 years ago is provided by Oconaluftee Indian Village on the reservation. Meticulously recreated, the village contains the structure of woven cane and clay used by the earliest Cherokees. Also here are dirt-floored cabins introduced by white traders.

An outdoor drama, Unto These Hills, shown nightly from mid June through July depicts the Cherokee Indian, Tsali, as he fights, runs, and finally ends up sacrificing his life so that a handful of his people will be allowed to remain in the Great Smoky Mountains.

At the Indian Museum in Cherokee is the largest collection of artifacts of the Cherokee nation. Spear points on exhibit predate the bow and arrow by centuries, and the pottery is said to been fashioned by an unknown people at least 10,000 years ago.

Today, the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians has nearly 12,000 enrolled members that live on the Qualla Boundary, a land area comprised of 56,572 acres directly adjacent to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The Eastern Band are descendants of those Cherokee who, in the late 1830s, remained in the mountains of North Carolina rather than be forced to march along the infamous “Trail of Tears” to Oklahoma.