he village tour transports visitors to the mid-1750s and along the
winding trails numerous shelters reveal Cherokee people expertly
demonstrating their chosen craft. Women shape special clay into
pottery of many sizes, shapes and designs; river cane is naturally
dyed and intricately woven into baskets, each a geometric masterpiece;
arrowheads are chipped as the Indians have done for untold centuries;
and blowguns are demonstrated with uncanny accuracy.
Blocks of wood become a ceremonial mask; strands
of yarn become fascinatingly interwoven to produce belts; and visitors
become educated about the "sweat house". Lectures are
given at two Village locations - the Ceremonial Grounds and the
Council House. At the Ceremonial Grounds, guides give detailed information
about dances, masks, rattles, feathers, purpose of the grounds and
other important facets of this part of Cherokee life.
Cherokee government, Council House design, treaties,
territories, language, and other non-ceremonial topics are presented
by a Cherokee guide inside the Council House. Visitors are encouraged
to ask questions at both the Council House and Ceremonial Grounds.
woodland setting of the Village quickly makes visitors forget that
today's civilization is only a few minutes away. Dense trees, small
streams and the silence of the woods add a unique quality at the
Oconaluftee Indian Village.
Like the outdoor drama "Unto These Hills",
the Village is operated by the Cherokee Historical Association which
was founded in the late 1940s and has been an important part of
both preserving and presenting Cherokee history and culture. Interest
in Native Americans by non-Indians has been reflected in the Village's
attendance growth during the past few years.
Adjacent to the Village is the mile-long Nature
Trail that provides visitors the opportunity to walk through the
woods and see a variety of trees, plants and flowers indigenous
to the western North Carolina area. There is no entrance fee to
walk the trail. Photo opportunities abound along the walk.
Many visitors confuse the Cherokee Indian Reservation
and the Oconaluftee Indian Village.
The Reservation contains 56,000 acres and is home to nearly 11,000
members of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. Reservation lands
and highways entering the Reservation are always open while the
Village is a cultural attraction that is open from mid-May through
the latter part of October.
Detailed information about the Oconaluftee Indian
Village may be obtained by contacting the Cherokee Historical Association,
P. 0. Box 398, Cherokee, North Carolina 28719.