Cherokee Heritage Center

Known to the Cherokee as Kuwahi, or Mulberry Place, Cherokee spiritual leaders visited the highest peak in the Smoky Mountains of North Carolina and Tennessee to fast and seek guidance and instruction from the Great Spirit.

That sacred peak, known today as Clingmans Dome, and the rugged terrain of the surrounding Smoky Mountains provided temporary refuge from pursuing soldiers during the Indian Removal in the 1800’s, known as the Trail of Tears. In 1838, nearly five hundred Cherokee hid in the shadows of Clingmans Dome to avoid the forced march to Indian Territory in present-day Oklahoma.

Museum and living history of the Cherokee Native Americans
Located in Northeastern Oklahoma, the Cherokee Heritage Center brings the Native American culture to life.

Learn more in the chapter entitled “Kuwahi – Sacred to the Cherokee” in the book I authored, Clingmans Dome Revealed: A Natural, Historical and Cultural Gem in the Smoky Mountains. Available on Amazon in paperback, Kindle e-book as well as an audio book read by a professional narrator. The free audio book introduction is available HERE.

canoe being made with fire and tools from fallen tree by Cherokee Native American Indians
With the use of fire and tools, a canoe gradually emerges a fallen tree depicting how the Cherokee created transportation in the 1700s.

After spending two months volunteering at Great Smoky Mountains National Park, nearly three months later I find myself in the heart of the land where the Cherokee settled after being forced out of North Carolina and Georgia and enduring the Trail of Tears.

I am in Tahlequah, Oklahoma – which became the capitol of the Cherokee Nation. I am volunteering for a couple weeks with Habitat for Humanity. More about this and pictures showing our building progress coming soon.

When you were born, you cried and the world rejoiced. Life your life so that when you die, the world cries and you rejoice.

Cherokee Proverb

Cherokee Heritage Center

I explored the Cherokee Heritage Center in Tahlequah to learn more about the Native American culture. The museum featured a thorough history of the Cherokee, especially throughout the 1700’s and 1800’s. A complete village recreated as the Cherokee lived in the 16th Century is just outside the museum.

Cherokee Trail of Tears
A display in the Cherokee Heritage Museum captures the Trail of Tears journey – a forced eviction of the Cherokee to lands in Oklahoma.

The Cherokee were not nomadic and constructed more permanent villages living as a community. The men of the village went out hunting while the women tended to gardens, among other things. Their gardens frequently covered hundreds of acres.

Cherokee Indian village community center
The Cherokee village was built around a simple community center, which was always of sufficient size to accommodate all members of the village including men, women and children.

The living history demonstrations breathed life into the old practices. Rocks being chipped into arrowheads and spears, a blow dart accurately hitting a target, a bow made from Locust wood and utilizing bear intestine for the string shooting an arrow with surprising accuracy were all part of the Cherokee world that came to life.

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