performances are held in the 2,800-seat Mountainside Theater. The
voices of the actors and actresses, battle sounds, and music echo
throughout the surrounding mountains that once served as hiding places
for the Cherokee who were determined to remain in their homeland as
opposed to joining the long march to Oklahoma. Even the emotional
silence of the "removal" scene becomes more meaningful when
one realizes the scope of history that these mountains have witnessed.
"Unto These Hills" is operated, as is
its sister attraction--The Oconaluftee Indian Village, by the Cherokee
Historical Association which was founded in the late 1940s for the
purpose of producing the drama. Today, audiences watch as 130 actors,
actresses and technicians mix their talents and experience into an
unforgettable two and one-half hour performance six nights a week
during the summer months. Traditionally, the drama has a nine-week
"run" with opening night being held around June 15.
Covering three hundred years of Cherokee history
in such a short time is masterfully done. From the beginning scenes
when Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto and his soldiers encounter
the Cherokee people to the closing minutes that show the beginning
of the divided Cherokee nation, the legacy unfolds in scenes which
are humorous, tense, tragic, sentimental, and moving.
As the darkness of night serves as the "final
curtain," audiences leave the theater much more knowledgeable
of the Cherokee people, their history, and their struggles in a non-Indian
world. "Unto These Hills" is a must-see attraction when
one visits Cherokee or Western North Carolina. Reserved and general
seating are available. Information and tickets may be obtained by
contacting the Cherokee Historical Association, P. 0. Box 398, Cherokee,
North Carolina 28719 or phoning 704-497-2111. 1997 dates are June
13 through August 23. Nightly except Sunday. Call 704-497-2111
for reservations and group tour information.