Cherokee uber Alles

Cherokee I

Bead work

Though I grew up less than two hours from this area, I never visited Cherokee, North Carolina. That’s a shame, really, for a trip there promises to be thought provoking and educational.

The best place to visit is undoubtedly Oconaluftee Indian Village, an outdoor museum that recreates the eighteenth century Cherokee reality.

The village itself is deceptively small. It seems like it wouldn’t take more than a few moments to wander through it all, but you wouldn’t learn much then.

Cherokee II


Instead, there’s a guide who seems to know just about everything about just about everything.

Cherokee VI


Our guide also had the mandatory sense of humor that transforms a “guided” tour into something much more personable.

Cherokee VIII


It was at the council chamber that the obvious was finally mentioned: the potential for a less-than-easy relationship between the Cherokee and the white tourists.

Cherokee XII

In council

“I’m often asked, ‘Do you hate white people?’ when I’m giving these talks,” the guide said. There’s a lot of reasons to feel resentful.

  • White Europeans were the original illegal immigrants.
  • A British officer (his name escapes me now) deliberately spread smallpox among Indians by distributing contaminated blankets.
  • The Trail of Tears.

Yet the guide pointed out the obvious: it was not races who did this, but individuals.

Cherokee XV

It seems in Germany we’re finally seeing the realization of this as well. National guilt about the Holocaust made most Germans unwilling even to cheer their national teams. National pride was not even a goose step away from nationalism, that most feared -ism of contemporary Germany.

It was only at this last World Cup — held in Germany, which certainly had something to do with it — that commentators began speaking of German pride. German children cheered the home team, and German flags waved in the stands.

And that concludes the diversion…

Cherokee XVI
For lunch, K and I went to a small park and ate open-face sandwiches with one hand while swatting gnats and flies with the other. In the park was a small grove of reed.

I’m not quite sure what variety of reed it was, yet it could have left me feeling awfully clausterphobic had the path through the grove not been so spacious.

More photos at Flickr.

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