Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2018 - 83

CHEROKEE VILLAGE:

WHAT TO SEE, WHAT TO DO
Beyond the Oconaluftee Indian
Village, we spring forth and
float, taking tubes on the
waters of the Oconaluftee River
and drift away a lazy Wednesday-thanks to the Cherokee
Rapids Tube & Kayak Rentals
(828-736-4231).
We also feast one night and
again in the morning at the
buffet of the Little Princess
(828-497-9000), a restaurant
on Acquoni Road, where the

owner, Donna Ball, announces
it's "cholesterol night" as she
points to pieces of pork and
shares stories of how her father
was once the chief of Cherokee.
For two hours, I lose myself
in the history and highlights of
the Museum of the Cherokee
Indians (visitcherokeenc.com)
then savor a mid-day meal at
the Front Porch Cakery & Deli
on Tsalagi Road (828-4971776).

It takes no time to fall in love
with Cherokee.
"It's relaxing," says Jeremy Arch, a tour guide at the
Oconaluftee Indian Village. "It's
somewhere where you can
come to be peaceful. There are
not a lot of loud noises. There
are not a lot of bright lights."
You will see stars on stage at
"Unto These Hills," an outdoor
drama that premiered in 1950,
detailing how Cherokee came

to be. Here, on a backstage
tour, we learn of the props in
the show, like how each gun
is numbered and loaded with
blanks (866-554-4557).
Later that night, we check
into the appropriately-named
Drama Inn (828-497-3271)
on Tsali Blvd., with a back
deck overlooking the ducks
on the bubbling waters of the
Oconaluftee River.

- JT

J

eremy Arch takes aim with a blowgun.
the military."
Pointing a dart at a target, he skillfully
Arch served as a cavalry scout for the U.S.
scores a bull's eye.
Army. "It was a lot of time in the dark, tripping
Yet, for Arch, this is more than sport;
over stuff," he says with a smile.
it's a ritual of survival for the Cherokee-
Today, back home in Cherokee, he appears
Arch's ancestral tribe in the mountains of
to use his scouting skills to weave from station
North Carolina.
to station in the village, then stand at attention,
Arch, 33, grew up going fishing in the creeks
asking for questions about using flint or gourds.
and loving all the country cooking in the
Arch became a tour guide here in 2016, greetCherokee Qualla Bounding visitors from Austraary. And he respectfully
lia, Indonesia, Korea and
learned from his elders
Canada. "And I love this,"
the skills to survive:
he says. "If I don't tour
What he now demonor talk, I'm working on
strates and explains as a
a craft. I'm learning new
guide for the Oconaluftee
crafts every other day."
Indian Village.
He also drops hints of
"I've been immersed in
history.
this stuff my whole life,"
"What a lot of people
JEREMY ARCH
Arch says. "I guess the
don't know is that we achardest part was actually
tually used to have bison
learning how to explain it
in this area," he says at
to people."
one station. "They were called 'mountain biWhat Arch so entertainingly explains -and
son'-about the size of a cattle. But they were
demonstrates-are the actual skills that are
hunted to extinction in the late 1700s due to
taught to the children of Cherokee "in elementhe fur trade."
tary school, like the finger weaving, basket
Stepping on to another station, Arch points
making, pottery," Arch says. "Then, once we
to the basket weavers, all the while making
get into high school, we actually start taking
visitors feel stitched into the fabric of the vilcarving classes and tool-making classes."
lage. In turn, Arch explains how each crafter
It's all part of tradition. "Ninth grade and on
connects to the continuity of Cherokee, using
up, we'll take carving classes," Arch says. "So it's
sheer survival skills that are shared by males
not unusual for you to have your carving knife in
and females.
your pocket that you got from your grandfather
"There was no gender bias," Arch says. "And
or from your dad."
the reason we had done that is because just in
The Indian village is a close-knit commucase you ever lost somebody in your family,
nity, Arch says, but it is common for Cherokee
then you could still pass that knowledge down
children to leave. "I moved away. I went off to
in your family."

"...we actually
used to have bison
in this area..."

ABOVE: This Indian head
carving greets visitors in
Cherokee.
LEFT: Jeremy Arch (top left)
stands behind a crafter on
a tour and talks about the
Oconaluftee Indian Village
(top right). The village stands
adjacent to a playhouse hosting
summer productions of the
outdoor drama "Unto These
Hills" (lower).

JULY/AUGUST 2018

83


http://www.visitcherokeenc.com

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2018

Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2018 - Intro
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2018 - Cover1
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2018 - Cover2
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2018 - 3
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2018 - 4
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2018 - 5
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Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2018 - Cover3
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2018 - Cover4
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