The Oconaluftee Indian Village is most certainly one of the must see activities in Cherokee NC! You will be transported back to the 1760’s in this historic mountain setting. A Cherokee cultural expert will guide you and your family the village, learning about traditional crafts, skills, and ways of life for the people of that era. You will be able to view individuals creating hand woven items and beadwork. Craftsman chip away at obsidian to form arrow heads, use coals to hollow out a logs for canoes, and heat canes over a fire to bend them into perfectly straight blow guns. You will even have the opportunity to view a blowgun demonstration. What amazed me most was their use of a weighted bow drill to create everything from pipes for smoking to large water pipes from logs that were used to bring water to homes and crops.
The village is also filled with many examples of traditional Cherokee structures. You can tour pre-contact style homes covered inside and out with clay and a central fire along with post-contact log cabins. There is a sweat lodge and a large seven sided council house that held the village’s sacred fire. Speakers explain the roles of the chiefs, share examples of their ceremonial clothing, and describe the seven clan system which is passed down through the female line. In the square dancers perform in full garb and story tellers share the beliefs, histories, and legends of the Cherokee people.
This short walking tour is suitable for all ages and abilities. It is all outdoors so be prepared for the weather. The village is open mid-April through early November and offers free admission to children 12 and under with a paid adult ticket. Oconaluftee Indian Village is located at 218 Drama Road, Cherokee, NC, directly next to the “Unto These Hills” outdoor drama center and a very short drive from Bryson City, NC. Have fun exploring and learning more about this fascinating aspect of the culture of the Great Smoky Mountains.