Monday, August 13, 2018

Oconaluftee Indian Village in Cherokee, North Carolina


We've visited Cherokee, North Carolina a few times and have loved every vacation we have had in the area.  We love exploring the Great Smoky Mountains and Gatlinburg, TN is just on the other side of them.  Recently we took a road trip here with our daughter, Lisa, and son-in-law, Pete because Pete has been wanting to visit Asheville, NC and this is another spot we can get to easily from Cherokee.  
We only had three days and two nights to show Pete around this gorgeous part of North Carolina and surprisingly we managed to do everything we had wanted to do.  One of the things we wanted to do was to learn more about the people this area is named after.  We found one of the best places to do this at  Oconaluftee Indian Village.  It is a replica village of a typical Cherokee 18th century neighborhood.

After we paid our $20.00 admission fee, we entered the outdoor waiting room where we waited for our tour guide.  Following a guide through the village was optional but we knew we could learn a lot more about the Cherokees if we had one with us.  

The first villager we came upon was a woman finger weaving strands of yarn into a beautiful sash.  It was really amazing to watch as was everything we saw in this village.


During the tour you were encouraged to ask questions.  The tour guide would answer most of them but would turn to the worker for more elaboration.  This bead worker, who was working on the most beautiful and colorful belts I have ever seen, was more than happy to talk about her craft. 


The pottery makers told us all about the way they molded clay to create the pots they needed to use in their everyday lives.  The color of the pot was determined by the type of wood they used in the fire pits that the pots were fired in.


Every person in this village made you believe that this was where they actually lived and the work they were doing needed to be done or there would be no pots to cook in or belts to hold up their pants!  I really loved that about this village.  It truly felt nothing but authentic.  This wood worker was making tools needed for cooking and masks that the Cherokees used when performing traditional dances and for decorating their homes.


I have always admired the gorgeous baskets I see in the shops in this town.  It was fun to see them being made.  The basket weavers explained how they are made with river cane, white oak and honeysuckle.  Some of the uses of these baskets include for catching fish, storing grain and for playing games.


The weapon makers were the last workers on our guided tour.  We saw the bows and arrows they made but what really amazed me here was the blow gun made from rivercane tubes.  Well, not so much the blow gun, but the Native American who blew the small dart from about 30 feet away from his target and hit the bulls-eye!   Well, not even that he hit the bulls-eye, but that he had enough wind in his body to get the dart to go that far!!


After we parted from our tour guide and fellow tourists, we were able to explore the rest of the grounds on our own.  We walked down the path into the part of the village where we got a look at the homes and other buildings that would be in a typical village.  Outside of each home was the homeowner who greeted you and answered any questions you might have.  One tourist challenged the first homeowner we saw with some very difficult political questions and she was able to respond to each one very impressively.


Some of the other buildings in this village included a Sweat House.  Every family would have one and use it during the harsh winters.  Every village would have a larger version of this house that would be used as a hospital.  One remedy for curing an illness was herbal tea being poured over stones in the middle of the room.  This would cause the person to sweat out what was making them sick.  Another important building, which would be located in the middle of each village was the Council House.  This is where the business of the village took place.  The building would be large enough for the whole tribe to come and take part in the meetings.  Someone was giving a lecture when we passed by.  


It would not be unusual to see a white trader as you were walking through the village.  These traders would exchange guns, metal tools, cloth, cookware, glass beads and other goods for deer skins, hides, timber and food.  And it would not be unusual for one of these traders to marry into the Cherokees and side with them when disputes arose between the Native Americans and the Whites.


We passed one more building, the skin/storage house, before we got to the Square Grounds to see the presentation of, A Time of War.  The Storage House would be where excess grains, furs, pottery and other items would be kept.  If anyone needed anything they were free to take it with the understanding that they would replace the items when they could.


The last stop in the village was the Square Grounds.  The square grounds was considered a sacred place and was where everyone came together for dances and celebrations.  We were here to see a reenactment of a struggle between the Cherokees and European settlers.  The actors were very believable and we learned so much from this show.


Before we left the village, we took a short walk in the Indian Gardens.  We loved reading the flower markers that showed the Cherokee name and description of the plant.


I highly recommend the Oconaluftee Indian Village to anyone wanting to learn more about this fascinating group of people.  We know we will be back to Cherokee and when we do get back here we will learn even more about them after we watch the drama, Unto These Hills.  This live performance happens in an outdoor theater, in the evening, under the stars.  We are looking forward to getting back to Cherokee to enjoy this show.





14 comments:

  1. This sounds like something I would love to do. Very interesting.

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  2. I hope you get a chance to do this. It was such a fun way to learn about this special group of people.

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  3. what a great experience that would be
    thanks for sharing
    come see us at http://shopannies.blogspot.com

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  4. This is definitely some place I would love to visit and I only live about 5 hours away, so I am putting it on my list. It sounds like you had a great time! Thanks so much for sharing at Celebrate It!

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    1. We are about 6 hours away and it's not a bad ride. I hope you get a chance to go! Thanks for hosting your party every week.

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  5. Looks like a cool place to visit and learn. Thank you for joining the To Grandma's House We Go DIY, Crafts, Recipes and More Link Party! Pinned this! Hope to see you again next week!

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    1. Thank you for hosting such a nice party every week!

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  6. I'm in SC on the border of SC/NC. This seems like it would be a really neat place to visit on day. Thanks for sharing #BloggingGrandmothersLinkParty

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    1. I'm in NC and close to the border of SC/NC on the east side. If you are on the west side you are very close to Cherokee. It is a nice area to visit. Hope you get there one day.

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  7. I love culture studies like you experienced here. So very interesting.
    Kathleen
    Blogger's Pit Stop

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    1. Yes it was very interesting. We all learned so much too!

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  8. Love this posy. My sister and I visited there several years ago while exploring out ancestors that made the trail of tears journey. It was amazing! Thanks for linking up with us at #blogginggrandmotherslink
    party30

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    1. That must have been really fun for you and your sister. It really was a great place to learn so much!

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