The Museum of the Cherokee Indian in Cherokee, NC is a great hidden gem to visit. It has been around since the 40’s and gets better every year. Often trips to Cherokee for people tends to be a trip to the casino. However, if you want a more lasting experience, and don’t want to lose a bunch of money on slots, you should consider coming here.
The museum has the goal to preserve the history and culture of the Cherokee people. They do this with a large collection of artifacts, exhibits, stories, and a whole lot more. I think for many of us, it is easy to fall in to the trap of painting all Native Americans not only with the same brush, but with a stereotypical brush as well. Just as a scratch on the surface, Cherokee Indians in this area did not live in tipis or wear huge feather head garb. Myths and stereotypes like these are among the many that you can get rid of when you visit this place, but there is so much more.
The sheer amount of artifacts is wonderful. There are tons of photographs, books, and pieces of history everywhere for you to see and experience. One of the best parts about the museum is the walk through time that you get a chance to experience. This interactive experience combines artifacts, computers, storyboards, pictures, audio, and much more to take you from the beginning of their culture through the present day. It is an interesting and emotional trip through history as you complete the self-guided tour. Though not nearly as large, it is laid out in much the same way as the Holocaust Museum in D.C. as they begin chronologically with the culture of their people and move through the trials and horrors of the nazi regime. Though nostalgic and moving, it does not emote quite the same mood and detail, so any age person should be free to go through it.
The trail of tears exhibit should also not be missed. This is a detailed look at the real story and details of that time. Everybody knows the story. This exhibit really brings it to life.
The museum is open seven days a week from 9am-5pm. During the summer they stay open until 7 pm excepts Sundays. Admission is $10 for adults, $6 for kids 6-12, and under six are free. It is centrally located right off Hwy. 441, so if you are coming from Newfound Gap, this should be very easy to find. Be sure to check it out.