The Museum of the Cherokee Indian tells the story of the Cherokee people and sets the scene for the Cherokee Heritage Trails. Here the Cherokee community presents its perspective on its own history and culture. Located in Cherokee, North Carolina, about 50 miles from Asheville, the museum's impressive exhibits takes you from 11,000 years ago to the present.
Cherokee people were involved in creating the exhibit: elders as well as scholars consulted on the script; life size figures were created from full-body casts of local people; and many of the voices in the audio portions of the exhibit come from tribal members. The award-winning exhibit combines artifacts with interactive technology, special effects, and colorful graphics.
Second Saturdays: Heritage Day
On the second Saturday of each month, enjoy many extra activities with members of the Eastern Band of Cherokees there to teach crafts, tell stories, perform music, and share traditional dance. 10 AM-5 PM. Free (no museum admission required).
On many days, visit with Cherokee artists as they demonstrate their craft.
Warriors of AniKituhwa dance group travels across the country as cultural ambassadors to teach social and war dances and share the Cherokee language and history. See them in Cherokee during many festivals including the Cherokee Voices Festival at the museum (2nd Saturday in June) and Indian Fair (early October).
An extra special treat at the Museum is booking a catered, Traditional Cherokee Indian Dinner, lovingly prepared by the local members of the North American Indian Women's Association for groups of 15 people or more. Enjoy seasonal favorites like fried chicken, bean bread, wild greens and ramps, fat back, potatoes, sassafras tea and cobbler. The ladies serve you and will answer questions about other traditional foods and growing up in Cherokee. Contact Dawn Arneach at the Museum to reserve at least two weeks in advance.
For more on Cherokee heritage, see Unto These Hills drama and tour the nearby Oconaluftee Indian Village.
The Museum of the Cherokee Indian is open daily, 9 AM-5 PM year-round except for Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day. Extended summer hours from Memorial Day to Labor Day are 9 AM-7 PM.
Admission: $12 for adults, $7 for children ages 6-12, 5 & under are free. There is no charge to visit the Museum store.
Address: 589 Tsali Blvd., Cherokee. For more, go to the Museum of the Cherokee Web site.
Qualla Arts and Crafts Co-Op
Next door to the Museum of the Cherokee Indian is the Qualla Arts and Crafts Co-op with the best quality crafts, hand-made with natural materials by Cherokee people since 1946. Find and buy meticulously made baskets, pottery, woodcarving, bead work, jewelry, dolls, blowguns, and other items. Profits are shared with 200+ co-op members, who must be enrolled in the Eastern Band. An exhibit room provides information on crafts traditions through displays of materials, photographs of the process of creation, and examples of work. The Qualla Co-op is open 7 days/week year-round, closed Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and New Year's Day. Free admission. 645 Tsali Blvd, Cherokee
Cherokee is just 52 miles from Asheville via I-40 West to Exit 27, then U.S. 19 to U.S. 441 in Cherokee (Just over an hour's drive).