Just a couple hours from the house is the Cherokee Reservation; more specifically, the Museum of the Cherokee Indian. Anna Grace expressed an interest in learning more about the Native Americans whose clans once extended across much of Appalachia, so on a mild and sunny day while she was still on university break we, and CTF, made our way through the Pigeon River Gorge and into North Carolina.
While Anna Grace was in the museum I walked Clayton Theodore through the Oconaluftee State Park, the second of only two Great Smoky Mountain trails where dogs are permitted. The name is derived from the Cherokee word “egwanulti“, or “by the river,” and refers to one of the oldest Cherokee villages once located here. CTF dutifully dipped his toes into the river whilst we looked unsuccessfully for Hellbenders, a salamander species largely unchanged since prehistoric times. Probably a little too cold.
Along the streets, signs in both Cherokee and English.
Outside the museum, a totem to Sequoyah, who brought an alphabet and writing system to the Cherokee.
Around the village, painted bears showcasing the talented artistry of residents within the Qualla Boundary (the land trust for Eastern Cherokee Indians).
Lunch was at B.J.’s Diner, a roadside spot we found over the summer. The diner is still sassy and the burgers are still simple and delicious.
Then it was back over the Carolina Smokies and through the Pigeon River Gorge toward home, a little wiser about those who came before us.