Thursday, January 14, 2010

On the Other Side

Magnet # 142: Cherokee Indian on Horseback

Material: Wood, Laminated Paper

Purchased By: Me

When I went to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park last year with my family, I finally ended up seeing what is to me "the other side of the Smokies" - Cherokee, North Carolina. Whenever I've gone there in the past, I've pretty much just stayed in the Tennessee part of the park, never making it all the way through to the North Carolina side. But we wanted to go to the Biltmore Estate in Asheville this time, and we would have taken a faster route on Interstate 40, but a rockslide had it totally blocked about halfway there (and I think it still hasn't been removed), so we took Highway 441 through the park instead, and came out at the park's other gateway at Cherokee. We took Highway 19 through the town and I was able to have a look at all of the touristy shops that line it. It was like a slightly smaller Pigeon Forge or Gatlinburg, only with a Native American twist. Unfortunately, we were short on time and couldn't stop even for a minute so I could grab some souvenirs. I managed to find this magnet in Gatlinburg. We passed by the Museum of the Cherokee Indian, who have a nice selection of their magnets up on their website, and, no, I didn't get to run in there, either. Yep, the drive through Cherokee was kind of tough on me - I knew there were all sorts of magnets around me, and yet I couldn't buy any! At least I did get some later on that day at the Biltmore.

Cherokee is home to the largest concentration of those particular Native Americans in the Eastern United States. They have a reservation there, and it was founded by the Cherokee who hid in the Smoky Mountains to escape leaving on the Trail of Tears. Nowadays, the Cherokee language is spoken by some of the residents there, and the area's main economy is tourism. In addition to their shops and aforementioned museum, they have a Oconaulftee Indian Village where visitors can see demonstrations and get a feel for what life was like for the Cherokee hundreds of years ago. There's also a Qualla Arts and Crafts Center, and a few roadside attractions with zoos. And, like many Native American tribes, they have their own casino - Harrah's - the tribe and its members split the profits. Visitors to Cherokee can also take in a viewing of Unto These Hills, an outdoor performance which debuted in 1950. It tells of how the Cherokee lived before they were rounded up for the Trail of Tears. But it isn't performed all the time, so if you're interested in seeing it, you might want to check before your trip. And, of course, there are all sorts of beautiful natural sites and trails to be seen in Cherokee, which is not only right next the the Great Smoky Mountains but also near the Blue Ridge Parkway.

So if you're planning on taking a trip to the Great Smoky Mountains sometime, you might want to stop by Cherokee. It's a nice way to remember the Native Americans that are so prevalent in the area's history. And, clearly they have plenty of activities to offer visitors to the area. And, perhaps on my next visit to the Smokies, I'll be able to have a shot at checking out their tourist shops and find out just what magnets they have.

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