Oconaluftee Indian Village - Living Museum of Cherokee History

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Oconaluftee Village

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Oconaluftee Indian Village - Cherokee Living Museum

Of the many cultural activities people can experience at the Cherokee Indian Reservation of Western North Carolina, walking the trails of the Oconaluftee Indian Village and listening to Cherokee guides describe Indian life of almost three centuries ago is one of the most timeless.

The village, which is close to, but isolated from the town of Cherokee, hosts thousands of visitors each year from May 15 to October 25. Tours commence every few minutes with a group usually consisting of 25-30 people, and depart for two-hour expeditions that feature numerous Cherokee craftspeople and lecturers.

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he village tour takes visitors back to the mid-1750s as Cherokee people can be seen expertly demonstrating their chosen craft in timely attire. Special clay is shaped into pottery of many shapes, sizes, and designs by Cherokee women; baskets are made by intricately weaving river cane that is naturally dyed - each a geometric masterpiece; Indians chip arrowheads as they have done for untold centuries; and Cherokee demonstrate with uncanny accuracy their handmade blowguns.Cherokee Pottery

Blocks of wood transform into a ceremonial mask; belts are made from strands of fascinatingly interwoven yarn; and visitors come to learn about the Cherokee's "sweat house". Two village locations offer lectures: the Ceremonial Grounds and the Council House. It is here that your guides explain the Cherokee dances, feathers, masks, rattles, purpose of the grounds and other important facets of this part of Cherokee life.

Presented by a Cherokee guide inside the Council House is the portion of the tour on Cherokee government. Here, guides explain the Council House design, territories, treaties, language, and other non-ceremonial topics that would take place. Visitors are encouraged to ask their guides questions at both the Council House and Ceremonial Grounds.

Cherokee BasketsThough today's civilization is only a few minutes away, the woodland setting of the village quickly makes visitors think they've traveled back to 18th Century America. Small streams, dense trees, and the silence of the woods add a unique perspective to the Oconaluftee Indian Village.

Much like "Unto These Hills", the Native American outdoor drama, the village is run by the Cherokee Historical Association. The association was founded in the late 1940s and has played an integral part in both preserving and presenting Cherokee culture and history. Interest in the Cherokee people, their history, and culture has grown dramatically during the past few years and can be seen in the village's attendance growth.

The mile-long nature trail is located adjacent to the village and provides visitors the opportunity to walk through the woods and observe a variety of flowers, plants and trees indigenous to the western North Carolina area. Photo opportunities abound along the walk. No entrance fee.

Still, many visitors confuse the Oconaluftee Indian Village and the Cherokee Indian Reservation. Arts and Crafts: WoodcarvingThe reservation is home to nearly 11,000 members of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians and is comprised of 56,000 acres. Entryways to the reservation are open year round, while the village is a cultural attraction only open from mid-May through the end of October.

Additional information about the Oconaluftee Indian Village may be obtained by contacting the Cherokee Historical Association, P. 0. Box 398, Cherokee, North Carolina 28719.

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