I've never looked forward to air conditioning more than when my sister and I climbed into her SUV after our trek through the Oconaluftee Indian Village's Nature Trail and Gardens. The car was like an oven inside, but with the A/C on high, it didn't take long to cool us off.
We drove down the main strip of Cherokee, NC, and picked out a nice restaurant where we could stop for lunch. Lunch was good. It rejuvenated us enough that we decided we might have just enough energy left to visit the Museum of the Cherokee Indian. I'm glad we did.
First of all, it was pleasantly cool in there, plus they said we could take pictures. We bought our tickets, then sat in a peaceful, dimly lighted area to wait for the next tour to begin. The wall in the waiting area was decorated with Indian stories like this one:
In a matter of minutes, the tour guide appeared and led us into a small theater, where we watched an animated version of the Cherokee legend about how the earth was formed. After that we were led through another door where we could continue on our own.
There were exhibits of utilitarian and trade items...
...and many other articles used regularly by the Cherokees. There were floor-to-ceiling murals on some of the walls:
Some of the exhibits were miniature:
Others were life-sized:
A hidden fan provided a gentle breeze that blew the feathers on the figures below, making us almost believe they might be real enough to step out of the exhibit at any minute:
The life-sized figures were extremely lifelike, as well, made with incredible attention to detail:
While the exhibits covered many facets of the Cherokees' lives in the early 1800s, a dominant theme of the museum was the Trail of Tears. The Cherokees (and other tribes) paid a terrible price when the U.S. government forced them to relocate from their homelands to the then newly designated Indian Territory that later became Oklahoma.
I can truthfully say that I've given that unfortunate piece of America's history more thought in the past few weeks than in all the 68-plus years I lived prior to visiting to this museum. It's an interesting, thought-provoking museum -- well worth a visit.