Museum of the Cherokee Indian

11/4/13 Monday at Waynesville, NC (Creekwood Farm RV Park-PPA ($16/night)

Last night was so cold, we have frost on the ground.


I did a little light cleaning, posted yesterday’s blog and some prep for travel tomorrow. John peered at his spreadsheets and did his prep for tomorrow, along with watching his old TV shows.

After lunch we headed out to the Museum of the Cherokee Indian. Naturally, our GPS failed us again, but we persisted and came upon a sign, finding our Museum (Hwy 441 and Drama Road in Cherokee, NC). I’d forgotten my camera but did remember my phone can take photos.

This was a wonderful museum ($10/person), interestingly arranged.  The Chief pictured on our introductory brochure was at he ticket desk and even signed our brochure.  It said so much about the heart of this people.  The Cherokee love stories (so do I), so we got to enjoy a number of those in our walk through the Museum.

Pottery from the Mississippian times


They played a game with butterball beans that’s very much like our dice game “10,000”.


Sequoyah-the only individual in 5,000 years of recorded history known to have devised a complete writing system without first being literate in some language. Creating a kind of alphabet in which each character stands for a syllable. Even after his family burned all his work, he started over again.

When the traders and British came they supported them but also became dependent on them for guns, horses, tools. In 1762 Henry Timberlake took 3 Cherokee chiefs, including Ostenaco, to London, to see King George. The Cherokee had signed a peace treaty with the condition that a British soldier live with them for some time, to help them understand the British ways. He also learned a great deal about the Cherokee ways and wrote a book, “Memoirs” recording what he found out.

Ostenaco-the only Cherokee of note to have been befriended by 2 future American Presidents, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, and who was documented on their own recollections of the years during which England dominated the colonies.


Cherokee dress around that time

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In time that relationship broke down, then the many treaties with the Americans were broken. Then the Indian Removal Act. Fortunately in 1817, an 11 year old boy, William Howard Thomas, met a Cherokee chief, Yonaguska (Drowning Bear) who later adopted him. That year the chief applied for land and US citizenship, per the Treaty of 1817. Will grew up and became an attorney and advised them when Carolina wouldn’t recognize them as citizens. Yonaguska died in 1839. Still Thomas fought for the Cherokee. He became, in fact, an “unofficial” chief. In 1866 North Carolina finally recognize their right of residency. Two years later it recognized the Eastern Band as a tribe and helped them establish a reservation from lands purchased by Thomas and obtained through prior treaties. This is the land they occupy today. Thus, these Cherokee were not “removed” to Oklahoma like the majority of their people. So many were lost on that “Trail of Tears”, yet today there are 7 clans – all stemming from a common female ancestor in a matriarchal society.

The Trail of Tears (because of the Indian Removal Act of President Andrew Jackson).  Of course you can click on image to enlarge it.

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We learned a lot and enjoyed ourselves in the process.

Finished off our evening with “Dancing With the Stars”.


About Patricia Elser

I've always loved the loose, flowing, transparent look of watercolors, of Chinese paintings and their calligraphy, but alas, no watercolor classes were available when I was in school, so that interest remained buried until my children were grown. Even then, I was afraid that I couldn't really paint, so upon my sister's advice, I actually started to take classes. I signed up for every class available, determined to learn no matter how afraid I was. I came upon a teacher, Stan Miller, who inspired me, who opened the door to success in watercolor. I love to look at beautiful images. I want to capture them forever. All my life, photography was how I gathered images of the beauty I saw. Thanks to all that photography, I enjoy composing pictures, especially up close. Watercolors allow me to add more of me in their translation of that beauty. My paintings reflect my love for music and dance, with their rhythm and flow. I am fascinated by the play of light, so it appears in my pictures as drama for they are filled with darks and lights. Maybe it's the challenge, maybe it's the beauty, but now, when a work comes together, it fills my soul.
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2 Responses to Museum of the Cherokee Indian

  1. Joyce Redmond says:

    I want to find the names of my great and great great grandparents who were of the North Carolina Cherokee peoples. Is there a record of these people?

    • tjelser says:

      I didn’t see any genealogical records at the Museum but I bet they could help you. The phone number of the Museum is: 828-497-3481. Good Luck!

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