Most of the planned activities on our trip thus far have been chosen with an eye toward avoiding shopping. The boys have a little money that they’ve saved for the trip and it’s been burning a hole in their pockets. I really did not want them to spend their money too quickly or on something that would too junky. But by Day 5, Mace was nearly frenetic in his zeal to spend his money, so I decided to take them to Cherokee so their money could be spent on moccasins made in Sri Lanka or toy guns made in China.
Casey studied Native Americans generally and the Trail of Tears specifically this past fall, so I knew he would at least have a context for whatever Cherokee culture we might find. I decided to take the boys to Oconaluftee Indian Village (OIV), where we could learn about how the Cherokee made textiles, weapons, etc. OIV is a bit of an expensive proposition if you’re saving all of your vacation budge for a hammered dulcimer, like we are. But the alternatives in Cherokee are playing in the river or shopping. I didn’t want to spend all day shopping and the boys didn’t express any interest in the river since they’ve been playing in the river every day at the campground.
At OIV, Cherokee craftsmen and women sit in open shelters and engage in whatever craft is being highlighted while a Cherokee tour guide walks you from one shelter to the next and describes what the craftsmen are doing. We watched women weave and then watched women do beadwork. Then we watched men carve . . .
. . . and then we got to the weapons lean-to.
My boys, who had been pretty engaged up to now, despite our tour guide’s rather monotone delivery style, started watching and listening with laser beam focus when our guide taught them how blowguns are made.
One of the craftsmen, who had been silently fashioning an arrowhead, got up to demonstrate the accuracy and power of the blowgun by shooting arrows into the center of a very small target.
He shot three times from about 20 feet away and hit the bullseye (or very close to it) each time. Our guide said there are blowgun marksmen in the tribe who can shoot with pinpoint accuracy from 90 feet.
In the council house, the benches are arranged by clan (wolf, bear, blue, etc.). The woman giving the presentation in this area talked to us a little about clans and the role of women in the tribe. We learned a lot of things that just were not covered in our school material — for example, a man married into his wife’s clan (essentially taking her name and not the other way around) and property was held in the wife’s name. Apparently, I hadn’t heard everything she’d said, though, because Casey pointed out later that we were sitting in the potato clan section. Mace, who’s been trying to be a wolf or a bear all week, was pretty disappointed that when it came right down to it, he was a potato.
After leaving OIV (and stopping for coffee and ice cream), we headed back up and over the mountain toward Asheville. It was raining, but we decided to stop on our way back at Soco Falls, which is just outside Cherokee. We were prepared for rain this time.
Though I think I need to buy a new poncho or rain jacket for myself because when I pulled out the rain poncho I’d inherited from my parent’s camper, it turns out it was not quite what I needed.
i just don’t really have much use for a rain muumuu on the trail. It rather restricts free movement of my legs.
Stay tuned for tomorrow’s post, which will probably combine Days 6 and 7 because doing laundry doesn’t really make for much of a blog post, depending on the laundry of course.