Visitors are given a passport taking them back to 1760 when they visit the Oconaluftee Indian Village. The village features re-enactments depicting Cherokee way of life during a period in history where their culture underwent rapid change. Harrah's Casino offers entertainment and four-star hotel experience nearby for visitors.
- Compiled by staff writer Beth Burger, email@example.com or 423-757-6406
BONFIRES AND STORYTELLERS
A view of Cherokee life more than two centuries ago
• The Oconaluftee Indian Village is open from May 1 to Oct. 20 and is located at 218 Drama Road in Cherokee. Gates open at 9 a.m. and the last tour is at 4 p.m. Guided tours are every half hour. Tickets for adults are $18, children are $10 and anyone under 5 is free.
• During the summer months, the village has bonfires complete with Indian storytellers Thursday, Friday and Saturdays at 7 p.m.
• Visitors can tour the working village which dates back to the 1760s allowing them to interact with villagers as canoes are hulled, pottery is crafted and baskets are woven. There are reenactments and demonstrations as well as hands-on art classes for children.
Source: Cherokee Smokies website
GAMBLING AND DINING
Stay, pay and play
• Harrah's Cherokee casino, located at 777 Casino Drive, is paired with a four-star hotel that is 21 stories tall offering 1,108 rooms.
• The 80,000-square-foot casino operates 24 hours a day and features 3,500 video gaming machines.
• The casino features several restaurants inside, including Paula Deen's Kitchen.
Source: Harrah's website and Cherokee County Chamber of Commerce
WATERFALLS AND TRAILS
Visit the tall falls
• Mingo Falls is considered to be one of the tallest waterfalls in the southern Appalachian Mountains and measures 120 feet tall. The falls are located on the reservation just outside Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
• The hike to the falls on the Pigeon Creek Trail is about 0.4 miles long and is considered "moderate" in difficulty, according to the Park Service.
• To access the falls, drive south on U.S. 441 from the Oconaluftee Visitors Center and take the second left on Big Cove Road. At the first stop sign, take a left and drive nearly five miles to Mingo Falls campground where the trail begins.
Source: National Parks Service
100 years reflecting on Cherokee heritage
• 100th annual Cherokee Indian Fair: The fair features artwork, traditional Cherokee food, live music, rides and games and fireworks.
• There will be traditional Cherokee contests and competitions, including stickball games. The festival takes place Oct. 2 at the Cherokee Indian Fair Grounds, 545 Tsali Blvd.
• Authentic artwork can be purchased year round at an artist co-op, Qualla Arts and Crafts Mutual, which has about 250 members.
• Qualla Arts is located at 645 Tsali Blvd. across from the museum. For more information, call 828-497-3103 or visit quallaartsandcrafts.com.
Source: Cherokee County Chamber of Commerce and quallaartsandcrafts.com.
BEST PLACE IN TOWN TO EAT AND WHY
Belly up to the buffet
• The local favorite is Granny's Kitchen located at 1098 Paint Town Road. Granny's, like many restaurants in the area, offers buffet-style service.
• Southern food is offered at the restaurant, including baked Alaskan cod with sliced almonds, baked ham with pineapple sauce, mashed potatoes, green beans, spiced apples and creamed corn.
Source: Cherokee Chamber of Commerce, Urbanspoon and www.grannyskitchencherokee.com
Cherokee life near the gateway to the Great Smoky Mountains
• Population: 2,138
• Biggest employers: Harrah's Cherokee Casino and Hotel, Cherokee Tribal Government
• Number of miles from downtown Chattanooga: 149
• Landmarks or geographic features: The reservation is located at the foot of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It's also near the entrance to Blue Ridge Parkway.
• Date founded: While the tribe has been in existence for centuries, the Cherokee adopted a constitution and organized a government in 1827.
• Most famous residents: Tsali and his family resisted migration out west in forced march known as the Trail of Tears. In a deal with authorities after one soldier was killed, Tsali and his family gave themselves up in a selfless act and, after his execution, some of the Cherokee could remain in their homeland. U.S. Highway 441 North is named in his honor.
• Odd/unique traditions: A ramp, which is similar to an onion, has a festival showcasing the vegetable each year. It's a traditional Cherokee food.
• Unique characteristics/fun fact: The reservation is known for artwork featuring painted bears.
Source: Cherokee County Chamber of Commerce, US Census records and ncmuseumofhistory.org