5 Things We Love About Cherokee! | Cherokee, NC

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5 Things We Love About Cherokee!

With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, love is in the air! There’s no better time than February to reflect on the people, things, and places that you are happy to have in your life. Whether you’re a first-timer or a frequent visitor, if you’ve ever been to Cherokee, NC, you’ve likely experienced a special connection with this beautiful and sacred land. In honor of this month, we wanted to share five things that make guests fall in love with Cherokee again and again.

1. An abundance of natural beauty.

No matter the season, the Smoky Mountains of Cherokee are awe-inspiring. Hikers travel to Cherokee in the fall to explore the splendid foliage, which (due to factors like elevation) change colors at various times.

When it’s warmer, consider a trip to Mingo Falls and Soco Falls, two dramatic cascades in the region. Mingo Falls is 120 feet high, and just off Big Cove Road. The steps to get up close and personal may be challenging, so take your time. Surrounded by rhododendron and northern hardwoods, Soco Falls is a double waterfall—part of a picture perfect landscape, so bring your camera!

2. Cherokee’s rich history.

With permanent displays and special exhibits and workshops, The Museum of the Cherokee Indian is a destination where visitors can learn more about the history, culture, and stories of the Cherokee people.

Twice monthly, on the second Saturday, the Museum hosts Cherokee Heritage Day. The next event falls on February 11. Since February is “The Hungry Month,” the focus will be on traditional food. Guests can enjoy featured demonstrations of hominy making, workshops on pottery making, traditional dances that honor animals hunted for food, and stories that focus on the theme. Come hungry! Nikki Crisp will have her food truck outside from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., selling Indian tacos, fried bread, and drinks.

Drama and performance have always helped cultures tell their stories. Step into 18th century Cherokee at the Oconaluftee Village when it is open from April 18 through November 11, 2017, or catch a performance of Unto These Hills when it returns in June. This outdoor drama re-imagines the Cherokee story.

Mike Crowe (pictured here) is a member of the Unto These Hills cast, as well as a part of The Cherokee Friends, a group of tribal members who specialize in storytelling, oral history, historical Native American dress, and traditional Cherokee song and dance.

While he says it’s hard for him to narrow down what he loves most about his involvement with The Cherokee Friends, Mike shares, “I would say the most rewarding thing for me personally is seeing the lights come on for our patrons regarding who we truly are versus some individual’s perception gathered from television or the internet, perhaps… We help people have a better perspective and understanding of our culture. A better understanding is largely the basis for worldwide systemic change that will ultimately further the human race as a whole.”

He adds, “The methods we use to reach our audience vary. We offer classes; we dance and always invite our audience to be a part of what we are doing. It’s one thing to watch, it’s quite a different level to experience for yourself, first hand.” You can enjoy The Cherokee Friends’ talents on Wednesdays at noon, and at Heritage Day at the Museum.

A living legend, Jerry Wolfe is a Beloved Man of the Cherokee Indians. He is an inspiring storyteller who evokes emotion from listeners of all ages. Perhaps you’ve been lucky enough to hear Jerry tell stories in person. If not, there is a special livestreamed storytelling event available here that will make you feel like you’re in the same room as the Beloved Man.

3. Home to the Powwow.

Summer is a busy time in Cherokee, with guests traveling from across the country to explore the attractions. The mountains keep temperatures mild and there are many events taking place. The 42nd annual Fourth of July Powwow is set for June 30 through July 2. Dance takes center stage as world championship dancers will compete for more than $60,000 in prize money. There’s also authentic tribal food and one of the best fireworks displays in the region.

Other summertime events include the Cherokee Bonfire, which runs May 26 through October 28, and Music on the River with outdoor performances on Friday and Saturday evenings from mid-May through early September.

4. Plenty of perfect fishing spots.

If you’re angling for a fun fishing experience, then plan on coming down to Cherokee! March 25 is opening day of fishing season. From March 25–26, participants can compete on rivers in the Qualla Boundary for a chance to win prize money. In early November, pairs of fly-fishing enthusiasts participate in Rumble in the Rhododendron along 2.2 miles of catch-and-release waters.

Tribal fishing permits are required for any fishing on the Qualla Boundary. For more information, click here.

5. The nation’s oldest Native American arts co-op.

Founded in 1946, Qualla Arts & Crafts Mutual features works by more than 250 independent artists from the area, including basket makers, potters, painters, beadworkers, wood carvers, and jewelry artists. Whether you’re in the market for a gift or looking for something special for yourself, you’ll find the perfect item. After shopping, be sure to give yourself enough time to check out the gallery in the back, which traces the history of crafts in Cherokee from the 1930s to the present day.

Plan a Trip!

You’ll fall in love with Cherokee, NC, when you visit, so be sure to give yourself plenty of time to enjoy the culture, attractions, and scenery with your loved ones. Two days are better than one, and with so much to do, you’ll want to consider an overnight trip or longer and get the most out of your time in the mountains. Click Visit Cherokee NC for more info!

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