The Museum of the Cherokee Indian in Cherokee, North Carolina presents visitors with an incredible opportunity to learn about the North Carolina Cherokee people, culture and history. This is a very impressive Museum that was totally renovated in 1998. Today it continues to expand and develop by taking innovative approaches to creating vibrant and dynamic exhibits.
A combination of modern technology and an outstanding collection of artifacts relay the ancient and intriguing history of Cherokee Indians in North Carolina. Even the location of the Museum is impressive: it is located at the ancient homeland of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians.
There is a wonderful self-guided tour at the Museum of the Cherokee Indian that covers three periods of Cherokee history: the ancient Paleo Period, the Archaic Period, and the Mississippian Period.
The Paleo Period exhibit explores the lifestyle and culture of the Paleo Indians, the first people to inhabit North America. Artifacts dating from11,000 BC to 8,000 BC are featured in this exhibit, including tools and even skeletal remains of the giant Mastodon the Paleo Indians hunted.
The Archaic and Woodland Period exhibit covers the years from 8,000 BC to 1,000 BC. Artifacts demonstrate how the Archaic Indians adapted to their changing environment. More sophisticated tools including nets for fishing and tools used to cultivate plant crops show how the Archaic Indians adapted to take advantage of new food sources.
During the period of 900 AD to 1500 AD, Cherokee agricultural practices such as crop management continued to be refined and developed. Artifacts indicate that food supplies became much more plentiful during the Mississippian Period. Exhibits from this time period include the arts and crafts Indians were able to devote more time to creating.
The elaborate religious ceremonies that began to play an expanded role in Cherokee society at this time are showcased in Mississippian exhibits at the Museum, as are the effects of increased trade, war and the spread of disease.
The Museum of the Cherokee Indian is part of the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail. You can learn about the forced emigration more than 15,000 Cherokees had to endure in 1838. The Museum is an important interpretive site along the 2,200 mile National Park Service Trail.
If you are a scholar interested in researching Cherokee history, you can access the substantial Archives at the Museum of the Cherokee Indian. More than 4,000 books, 1,000 photos from the 1880s through the 1930s, manuscripts, and hundreds of reels of microfilm are just some of the items included in the Museum’s impressive Archives.
Special events are held on site at the grounds of the Museum of the Cherokee Indian, including Cherokee Festivals and special talks by historians, Cherokee authors, artists and scholars.