Smoky #7 – Cherokee and More

Museum of the Cherokee Indian

Our rainy day, indoor activity took us to Cherokee, North Carolina where we visited the “Museum of the Cherokee Indian.” This museum cost $11 each to enter. The museum had a number of visitors that day. We probably spent about two hours there. The museum had many visually interesting displays as well as lots and lots of reading – like many museums.

There were a couple of things that could have been improved. The very first exhibit is a set of panels to read. The issue is there is a bright spotlight on the wall behind the visitor. So, it was difficult to read the panels because of the shadows. You even had to watch out for your own shadow.

The second exhibit was the movie – which was out of order the day we were there. I like to watch the movies when we visit a museum. It adds to my learning.

Lastly, there was another exhibit which had an audio portion, but you could only hear it if you had bought the audio tour. It seems there should have been a visual counterpart for those that didn’t buy the audio tour.

In any case, I did learn a couple of things about the Cherokee. I learned about butterbean, chunkey and stickball – games played by the Cherokee, and I learned how the athletes were idolized, much as they are today. I learned about King George III of England’s Proclamation in 1763 that there would be no more white settlements in the Appalachian Mountains and all points west. We all know how that turned out.

The museum also had several “disruption” panels addressing the issue of ancient objects and artifacts. Many Cherokee do not want these objects to be in a museum for public viewing. That is because these objects are considered to be ancestors, not just artifacts.

When I visit a museum, my goal is to learn some things – a few things that will stick with me over time. I do not try to absorb everything nor do I try to recreate the experience in total for this blog. My goal is to capture some of my memories and perhaps entice you to visit, learn a bit more or contribute to the conversation.

My visit to the Museum of the Cherokee Indian did teach me some things. However, I can’t help but say the Visitor Center at the Trail of Tears State Park in Cape Girardeau, Missouri left far more of an impression on me. However, in fairness I would add that the Museum of the Cherokee Indian has a larger scope than the Visitor Center at Trail of Tears State Park.

I am glad I have visited both places as both tell a story which should never be forgotten or worse, be repeated in any way, shape or form. If you have visited either place – or some other related place, let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

Our next stop was the Oconaluftee Visitor Center which is in Great Smoky Mountain National Park but not too far from Cherokee, North Carolina. Since the rain had stopped, we didn’t spend much time inside the Visitor Center.

I could sit here for a long time.
This building was to the left of the Visitor Center.
The boulder contains the same plaque honoring the work of the CCC.
It is the same plaque as in Cades Cove.

Next to the Visitor Center is a Mountain Farm Museum with a number of outdoor log structures set along a large circular path. We spent some time walking this path and viewing the historical structures.

Working Blacksmith
Finished Product – S hook

At this point, it started raining again, so we headed to the Collins Creek Picnic Area. This picnic area was about 6 miles away and on our way back home. The best thing was that this picnic area had a shelter. So, we could sit, snack and Scrabble without getting rained on.

Collins Creek Picnic Area
Quiet Walkway

Right near the picnic shelter was a “Quiet Walkway.” There were several of these “Quiet Walkways” all around the national park. As we drove through the park on our way to here or there, we saw a number of these signs with a spot or two for parking.

The sign says,

A short walk on this easy trail offers close up views, subtle aromas, and the serene quiet of a protected woodland. You will be walking in one of the last great wildland areas in the East, but you won’t need a backpack or hiking boots. Take your time. Have a seat on a rock or a log bench. The trail has no particular destination, so walk as far as you like and then return.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

I walked just a bit on this quiet walkway. These pathways seem remote and far less crowded, so I would want to take my bear bell and my bear spray, too.

I hadn’t known about these quiet walkways before we visited the national park. Another trail I learned about was the Oconaluftee River Trail which began back at the Oconaluftee Visitor Center. If we ever return to Smoky Mountains National Park, I would hope we could hike these trails.

Next, we headed back to the campground, but we stopped at Newfound Gap. This is a mountain pass located on the border between Tennessee and North Carolina. It was here in 1940 where Franklin D. Roosevelt dedicated the park. The stone monument is a memorial dedicated to the John D. Rockefeller Foundation whose donation made the creation of the park possible. Newfound Gap is at 5,046 feet, and the Appalachian Trail also passes through it.

Rockefeller Memorial
View from the Parking Lot
at Newfound Gap
View from Rockefeller Memorial
To the right: Gatlinburg 15
To the left: Clingmans Dome – 5
Cherokee – 20

Well, we certainly had a full day, didn’t we? Well, I did do one more thing:

I hiked the Appalachian Trail. Again!

My next post will be my last post from our Great Smoky Mountains National Park trip. We did lots of fun things, but this last activity was not planned. And it might just be my favorite of all.


  1. The museum sounds fantastic, Betty! You know how Mike and I enjoy Native American Culture. In fact we’re headed to the capital of the Navajo Nation today. I absolutely love that the most visited national park in the US has created the quiet walks for visitors. We’ve got to go back to SMNP. Safe travels!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Kellye! I want to learn more about Native American Culture. One of the best ways is to visit, and another good way is to read blog posts about it. So, I look forward to your posts. We saw a number of these quiet walkways. Some were empty, some had one or two cars at most. And as you know, there isn’t a spot in the park that isn’t beautiful. Enjoy your day!


  2. Thanks for the recap of another wonderful day, Betty! Did the Cherokee Museum have a suggestion box or a guest book where you could write your observations for possible improvements? If not, I wonder if they have a website where you could make comments. As always, I’m looking forward to your next post.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Terry, that is an excellent idea! Often times when we visit a place, I’ll put a link to my post on their Facebook page (if allowed.) But usually, these posts are more glowing. I did not do this for this museum. I did not see a suggestion box while there or a “Contact Us” on their web page. However… I did find the Executive Director’s email address and sent her an email with the link after reading your comment. I feel like with some funding the museum could be really great, but I also think my suggestions could be done with little cost. Thanks for the reminder to act and not just complain. Have a great day!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Well I sure didn’t take your observations as complaints, Betty. More like constructive criticism, and I’m sure the Executive Director will appreciate your thoughts. Sometimes, these things remain unknown and unaddressed until they’re pointed out by actual customers. I hope your day is good too!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Indeed you did have a full day. Lots and lots of wonderful learnin’ happening between the museum and the visitor center. I really like the idea of the “Quiet Walkaways.” I need a few of those in my neighborhood. 😉 Great post! – Marty

    Liked by 1 person

  4. We *almost* visited the Cherokee Museum last year. Perhaps this year will be the year we visit. We will be in that area again in August. We have been to Newfound Gap several times, as well as the Mountain Farm Museum. I am surprised not to see a picture of you standing g in NC and TN at Newfound Gap. Near the Oconaluftee Visitor Center it is not uncommon to see elk in the morning hours. We haven’t been there early enough to see them, although I have seen pictures.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That part of the park is about an hour from our campground, so we didn’t make it there early either. But seeing elk in the morning would be awesome. The trail near the Mountain Farm looks so pretty. The rain kept starting and stopping all day; otherwise, we would have walked a bit on that trail. I’ll be interested to read your blog posts from when you visit in August. As far as a picture of me in NC and TN – well, I didn’t think of it! Darn!


    • Don’t they though? I would just want to be sure to have my bear spray on me, so the appealing part is the walk – and not me. 🙂 Have a great day!


    • We did enjoy the day. The museum was ok. It just seems like the first couple of exhibits should not have issues. I do think it is an important museum, and I hope they continue to improve it. Thanks for your comment, and have a good day!


    • Aw…thank you. I do try to relay information for others in case they may visit the same area some time. I appreciate your comment very much, and I hope you have a good day!


  5. I have visited the Visitor Center in Cape Girardeau but it must not have made an impression on me…I can’t remember anything about it! I really like the idea of the quiet walkways. And now, I’m going to be on the lookout for your last post, to see your last activity for this trip.

    Liked by 1 person

    • This was the Visitor Center at the Trail of Tears Missouri State park. There may be another Visitor Center in Cape. I like the idea of the quiet walkways, too! They seem a good option to the crowded, popular hiking trails. “Smoky 8” is coming soon. 🙂 Enjoy your day!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. As I have mentioned before, Betty, I went to Cherokee many times growing up but it was not until a trip four years ago with my oldest sister that I visited that museum for the first time. I do not recall having any trouble in there but I do recall the native concern that certain items should not be displayed because of their religious or spiritual significance. Otherwise visiting a traditional gift shop and buying the ubiquitous Indian bow and arrow for now grandkids, we stopped for lunch and had a delicious Indian Fry Bread (open face taco on thick fried bread). If you have not had one, it is worth trying.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi David. I wouldn’t so much say as I had trouble there; it just seemed a few things could have been improved. I do respect their concern about displaying certain items, and I wasn’t aware of this concern before visiting this museum. So, I did learn that and some other things about the Cherokee – which is why I went there. The Indian Fry Bread sounds delicious. Thanks for your comment, and I hope you have a great day!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks Betty. I also remember going to Cherokee with my parents many years ago and going to the outdoor play “Unto These Hills.” I recall it being excellent and I think I learned a lot there also.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. You are my inspiration…walking the Trail twice! HAHA Thank you for sharing your experiences. Not every park, visitor center, etc is the same but yes, we can always learn something. Now you have me hooked to see the next post!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, I’m a regular Grandma Gatewood! 😉 She was an older woman who walked the AT three times. I only recently heard about her, and then I read a book about her. In any case – on to the next post!


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