A day of Cherokee Indian culture

As my husband Ronnie, daughter GG and I headed to Cherokee, North Carolina from Tennessee, my thoughts wandered to what I've heard about the place.

Cherokee, North Carolina not only houses a casino but is actually inhabited by the Cherokee, a native Indian tribe. When we arrived there, we saw signs around town printed in English and Cherokee.

The city itself is anchored by the Harrah's Cherokee Casino. We decided on a side-trip not to the casino but for a quick study of culture and heritage of Cherokee culture.

I've been interested in learning more about Cherokee culture after reading a true story written by Forrest Carter called ”The Education of a Little Tree” that talks about the Cherokee people.

It is an interesting read, especially about the mountains and nature. So while we were at Gatlinburg, Tennessee, Ronnie, GG and me crisscrossed to Cherokee, North Carolina passing through Smokey Mountain, the mountain ranges and valleys over tunnels and rich abundant greens.

After breakfast at the hotel we went to Pigeon Forge, the next town after Gatlinburg since gas prices there were lower compared to Gatlinburg and every penny counts to dear Ronnie.

From Pigeon Forge, which Ron described as a city that looks like a beach without the ocean, we passed through the entrance of the great Smokey Mountain National Park.

The entrance is accessible between Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge. The great Smokey Mountain is one of the most pristine natural areas in the eastern US and I think it is a world heritage site.

The long drive is very good, there were no bumps because the roads were smooth, though a bit curvy as we followed a long line of the cars and trucks ahead.

I saw all kinds of trees and wild flowers and it was a breathtaking view especially if you stop by the Overlook. There you see for yourself nature's magnificent beauty magnified and maintain by humanity.

There were also small mountains covered with white smoke while traffic signs were abundant and clear for both drivers and passengers. The road was only two lanes going up and down, which slowed us down for sometime.

In addition to the mountains and rich valleys there are crystal clear waters gushing out of creeks and brooks. It looked cool and inviting, with floating leaves and branches.

There were old and young trees, both competing to blanket the surrounding environment with their green blanket of leaves and branches. We passed three tunnels and reached Cherokee after an hour and several minutes.

We immediately went to the welcome center to find what’s going on there on a Saturday. There's something about heritage that I appreciate and draws me to.

The book “The Education of Little Tree” mentioned about Grandma who told the central character Little Tree “If ye don’t know the past, then you will not have a future.”

With that in mind, we went to the Museum of the Cherokee Indian. I saw a big statue of an Indian and I had my picture taken with it. We saw all manner of crafts outside the museum that tell the history of the Cherokee Indians.

In one of the booths, an Indian trader was generous enough to write my name in Cherokee for free (see the picture of my name he wrote. I forgot which letter has no equivalent to Indian either S or N).

I was really amazed seeing all the Cherokee Indian artifacts. We headed to another booth where we danced with Cherokee Indians and had our picture taken for a fee of course.

Just between you and me—when I was a kid growing up in Tagoloan town in Misamis Oriental province, northern Mindanao in the Philippines, the only way I can make my siblings go to sleep early was to tell them that there were Indians coming.

After spending the whole of Saturday, June 29, at a Cherokee Indian museum, I learned a lot more about the rich history and culture of one of many native American Indian tribes.

I wish to learn more as well as spend more time soaking in the place and the clean fresh air there in the immediate future.

I close this article by sharing with you again Grandma's line from “The Education of Little Tree.” “If ye don’t where your people have been, then ye won’t know where your people are going.”

For more information about the Museum of the Cherokee Indian please click on this link. http://www.cherokeesmokies.com/history_culture.html.


(Susan Palmes-Dennis is a veteran journalist from Cagayan de Oro City, Misamis Oriental, Northern Mindanao in the Philippines who works as a nanny in North Carolina. This page will serve as a venue for news and discussion on Filipino communities in the Carolinas. Visit and read her website at www.susanpalmes-dennis.simplesite.com. Read her blogs on susanpalmesstraightfrom the Carolinas.com. These and other articles also appear at http://www.sunstar.com.ph/author/2582/susan-palmes-dennis.

You can also connect with her through her Pinterest account at http://www.pinterest.com/pin/41025046580074350/) and https://www.facebook.com/pages/Straight-from-the-Carolinas-/49415695067…)

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