Museum offers view of Cherokee historyOur visit to Cherokee, N.C., was prefaced by our drive through the very beautiful
Cherokee is a small town and makes a big deal of its casino, which we did not visit. We bought a combined ticket for the three main American Indian attractions in the area. Our first visit was to the Museum of the Cherokee Indian, a large museum that claims to be the most complete collection of Cherokee artifacts anywhere. We were surprised when we entered that we were met by an older Cherokee man who offered to sign our museum guide. It turns out he was the sculptor, Jerry Wolfe, who made the life-size statue of a Cherokee medicine man in the museum.
The museum is state-of-the-art, with a variety of methods of presenting its material. It opens with a five-minute film telling the Cherokee story of the creation of the earth. From the theater, we stepped into a series of artifact rooms, with some dating as far back as 13,000 years. Each of the periods is carefully explained.
In some of the rooms, we were given information about the different historical periods: the Paleo-Indians; Archaic Indians; Woodland Indians; Mississippian Indians; and Hopewell Indians, when the tribes around the continent had a high degree of product exchange.
The most innovative displays were two holograms. One was of a medicine man who explained the Cherokee story of how animals held a meeting and decided humans were getting too dangerous and each was to give humans an illness. The plants, however, liked men and gave them a plant to cure each illness if only they could find it.
In some rooms, large paintings cover the walls with life size manikins in front of them tell the story of their history.
Another section tells of Sequoia's invention of an alphabet and gives examples of a printing press and books produced.
An unusual feature was detailed newspaper stories about American Indian visits to
There also other displays of costumed mannequins at critical points in history. As I have a small collection of masks from around the world, I enjoyed the collection of masks carved from buckeye and basswood that were used in dances and ceremonies to frighten away evil sprits. It amused me that masks have been invented throughout the world independently for similar reasons.
Across the street from the museum is the Qualla Arts and Crafts cooperative, made up of 300 artisans. We found displays of modern stone and wood sculptures and a wide variety of baskets and pottery.