The Hills Are Alive

Trip Start Mar 07, 1997
Trip End Dec 25, 1998

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Flag of United States  , North Carolina
Friday, June 13, 1997

Go with me? This Father's Day weekend let's focus on heritage and tradition as we visit one of the longest running outdoor plays in the United States. Unto These Hills opened in Cherokee, North Carolina, in 1950, and it's still accumulating rave reviews.

Nearly six million people have come to the amphitheater over the years. Tucked in a mountain cove, its 2,844 seats fill quickly as the hills come alive with the sounds of music and echoes of the past.

It's the story of the Cherokee, beginning with DeSoto's visit to the Village in 1540. The play takes us through celebrations such as the Green Corn Dance of harvest; tense negotiations for land with visits to the White House; and battles filled with heroism.

Did you know that Chief Junaluska saved the life of General Andrew Jackson at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend in 1814? One of the most famous scenes in the play is the Great Eagle Dance, when the Chief returns to the village in triumph.

The story continues with the increasing tide of white settlers in the 1830's when gold was discovered in north Georgia. Eventually the Cherokee were taken from their land and herded into stockades to be sent to Oklahoma. Some escaped and hid in the mountains. It was the sacrifice of Tsali that led to the agreement that allowed them to remain.

The reservation of today covers 56,000 acres east of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park known as Qualla Boundary. Most of the 10,000 members of the Eastern Band of the Cherokee live within the boundary and many participate in the play.

Near the theater is Oconaluftee Indian Village, a replica of more than 200 years ago. There is a seven-sided council house and demonstrations of flint chipping, fingerweaving, and crafting dugout canoes. And don't miss the Museum of the Cherokee Indian with its wonderful displays and artifacts.

There is much to do in Cherokee, from the downright touristy to fishing the trout streams for rainbow and brook. It's also the gateway to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. See you there.

Mountainside Theater, Cherokee, North Carolina
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