by Gina Gallucci-White
At Oconaluftee Indian Village in North Carolina, guests are transported back into the 1760s as they watch the Cherokee lifestyle and history come alive through interactive experiences.
Folks can watch award-winning artists give demonstrations on unique Cherokee crafting techniques, including fashioning beadwork, sculpting pottery and weaving baskets. The living history section also gives guests glimpses at other aspects of Cherokee life, such as hulling canoes, cultural dances and using a blowgun.
Lead on a trail by a Cherokee cultural guide, guests may also see traditional dwellings, work areas and scared ritual sites of the time period.
While there are several experiences to add on while you are there, don’t miss “Unto These Hills” — an annual theatrical production of the Cherokee story through August 14, at an outdoor venue under the stars. Focusing on the Cherokee life from the 1780s to today, the production first premiered in 1950 and has welcomed more than 6 million visitors. If you book online, you can bundle your tickets for both attractions for a reduced rate.
Those who want to see more of the land can try the Fire Mountain Trails which can be used for mountain biking, running or hiking. Stretching over 10.5 miles, the trails vary in difficulty from beginners to advanced and interlace with the nearby Great Smoky Mountains. Sharing a parking lot with the village, the trails are free for visitors.
If you have some extra time, take a short drive to the Museum of the Cherokee Indian, which features interactive videos, thought-provoking displays and multi-sensory experiences. Guests will leave with a knowledge of the struggles the people endured as well as a better understanding of their resilient spirit.