Great Smoky Mountains Cabins, Gatlinburg Tennessee, Wedding Chapels

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Oconaluftee Indian Village - Cherokee Living Museum

Walking the trails of the Oconaluftee Indian Village and listening to Cherokee guides describe Indian life of almost three centuries ago is one of many cultural activities on the Cherokee Indian Reservation of Western North Carolina.

Close to, but isolated from the town of Cherokee, the Village hosts thousands of visitors each year from May 15 to October 25. Tour guides, escorting small groups of 25-30 people, leave the attraction's main entrance every few minutes for a two-hour educational experience with numerous Cherokee craftspeople and lecturers. [ continued ]


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.Cherokee Pottery

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.

Cherokee BasketsThe 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 Arts and Crafts: WoodcarvingVillage. 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.

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