Copyright notice

This article is from the Encyclopedia of North Carolina edited by William S. Powell. Copyright © 2006 by the University of North Carolina Press. Used by permission of the publisher. For personal use and not for further distribution. Please submit permission requests for other use directly to the publisher.

Is anything in this article factually incorrect? Please submit a comment.

Printer-friendly page

Oconaluftee Indian Village

by Ron Holland, 2006Basket weavers demonstrate their craft at the Oconaluftee Indian Village in Cherokee. Photograph courtesy of North Carolina Division of Tourism, Film, and Sports Development.

On 16 Aug. 1950 the board of trustees of the Cherokee Historical Association in Cherokee-sponsor of the popular outdoor drama Unto These Hills-approved the idea of constructing a replica of an eighteenth-century Cherokee village. The research necessary for creating an accurate replica was to be performed by the Tsali Institute for Cherokee Research, established by the board in May 1951. Noted archaeologists and anthropologists working on the village project and serving as members of the Tsali Institute included Joffre Coe (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill), A. R. Kelly and W. H. Sears (University of Georgia), T. M. N. Lewis and Madeline Kneberg (University of Tennessee), and John Whittoft (Pennsylvania State Museum). P. A. Willett supervised construction of what became Oconaluftee Indian Village on a wooded, 40-acre tract in Cherokee near the Mountainside Theater, where Unto These Hills is performed each summer. The village opened to the public in August 1952, with Walter Jackson serving as the first manager.

Oconaluftee Indian Village was designed to depict life in an eighteenth-century Cherokee community. Cherokee men and women, in traditional attire, perform ancient rites and provide traditional craft demonstrations. The village also features replicas of a seven-sided council house and homes and other structures from the 1700s. Guides in native attire interpret for visitors the social structure of Cherokee society. A botanical garden and nature trail became a part of the village in 1954. Total paid attendance at the village had topped 6 million by 2000.


William P. Connor Jr., History of Cherokee Historical Association, 1946-1982 (1982).

Additional Resources:

Cherokee Historical:


Origin - location: 



Dear Sir/Madam,

My name is Kristine Jones, and I am a writer. I am currently working on a fictional novel about "The Qualla," and its current laws and the old laws that have been abolished.

I saw this article about the Oconaluftee Indian Village, I really would like to find more history. Can you suggest where I would be able to find pictures and history? I want to mix authentic information with my fiction.

Please feel free to contact me.

Thank you,
Kristine Jones


Hi Kristine,

Thank you for your comment and for visiting NCpedia! This sounds like a great project!

I am forwarding your inquiry to our library's Reference Team as they might be able to help steer you in the right direction regarding resources. A staff member from our library will be reaching out to you via e-mail soon.

Molly Goldston, NC Government & Heritage Library

Add a comment

PLEASE NOTE: NCpedia provides the comments feature as a way for viewers to engage with the resources. Comments are not published until reviewed by NCpedia editors at the State Library of NC, and the editors reserve the right to not publish any comment submitted that is considered inappropriate for this resource. NCpedia will not publish personal contact information in comments, questions, or responses. If you would like a reply by email, note that some email servers, such as public school accounts, are blocked from accepting messages from outside email servers or domains. If you prefer not to leave an email address, check back at your NCpedia comment for a reply. Please allow one business day for replies from NCpedia. Complete guidelines are available at