Favorite Travel Quotes

"Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts."
-- Mark Twain
Innocents Abroad

"Stop worrying about the potholes in the road and celebrate the journey." -- Fitzhugh Mullan

"A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving." -- Lao Tzu

Museum of the Cherokee—Plus Thanksgiving Salutes

NOTE: At the moment we are traveling, waiting near Albuquerque, New Mexico,  for harsh winter conditions to subside in the north.  With little time for creating new material I thought I would re-post a blog I wrote in 2006, essentially because it was one many people seemed to enjoy reading and because it is about Thanksgiving.

Wishing family friends and readers a HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

Bert Gildart: Several days ago Janie and I departed the Great Smokies and then drove for two days to Tampa, Florida, where we are now camped at Bay Bayou, an RV “Resort.” Just prior to leaving the Smokies, however, we spent most of the morning at the Museum of the Cherokee Indian, located in Cherokee, North Carolina, which in turn is located immediately adjacent to Great Smoky Mountain National Park. Though entrance to the museum is expensive ($9.00 per person), what they display is worth the price of admission.

The museum is a large center and our tour began with a multi-media presentation of the Cherokee interpretation of creation. The presentation was compelling, and set the stage for the large number of display panels, wax figures, and voice-overs contained in the remainder of the museum.

In one of the first rooms we found a display of an Indian warrior making an offering to the Great Spirit, and as we read the accompanying write up, learned that the model for the figure was Jerry Wolf, a Cherokee elder.

Rangers in the park had told us about Mr. Wolf and suggested we ask for him, and that’s precisely what Janie did as I was elsewhere in the museum. Excited as could be she came bounding up saying “I’ve found him; I’ve found him—and he’s agreed to pose.” Casting around, we agreed the most appropriate setting would be the statue for which he served as a model. In retrospect, the image of supplication was fortuitous, and is an appropriate picture with which to open my blog on this Thanksgiving day.

Lighting could have been a problem, but by using two strobes, we managed to capture a nice image of Jerry and still provide even illumination for the statue behind him.

Though the highlight for us was encountering Jerry Wolf, other portions of the museum presented information that fascinated us. For instance, I did not realize that Indian people had made the journey to England and then returned, but wax figures and a panel told the story.

It all started in Charlestown, when Ostenaco saw picture of King George III and remarked, “Long have I wanted to see the king.”

A short time later, Ostenaco, Stalking Turkey (Cunne Shote) and the Pigeon (Wayi), went to England, accompanied by Lt. Henry Timberlake

Later, a local reporter described the tribe–with some spelling and capitalizations that differ from ones we use today:

“They are all well made men, near six-feet high dressed in their own country Fashion, with only Shirt, Trowsers, and mantle round them; the Faces are painted of Copper Colour and their Heads adorned with Shells, Feathers, Earrings, and other Ornaments.”

Yet other rooms captured our attention. In one, I was reacquainted with a man I’d learned about in Oklahoma, Sequoyah, and the man who developed the Cherokee alphabet.

But the most poignant display presented the story of the Trail of Tears, and the numbers of Eastern Cherokee who perished following their forced eviction from the North Carolina homeland in 1838-1839.

The presentation went on for several rooms and reminded us once again just how quickly man’s inhumanity to others can so easily rear its head.

And so we departed the Great Smokies with mixed feelings, bound for Florida over a two-day drive. Today we’ll have Thanksgiving with Rich Luhr, his family and with two others, all of whom are Airstream owners. We’re grateful for their friendship and for including us on this family day.

Symbolically, Janie and I will join with millions of other Americans, giving thanks, I’m sure, to whatever deity we hold in our respective spiritual centers and by whatever name we call him. Because Janie and I have spent an immense amount of our time together with Indian peoples, we can call that deity the Great Spirit, and it would be just as appropriate as any other term we might apply.

Consider this closing then a way of saying Happy Thanksgiving to all our large family and to our many friends, wherever they might be today. Obviously, we’re thinking of each and every one of you.

One Response to “Museum of the Cherokee—Plus Thanksgiving Salutes”

  1. Sandybee Says:

    I usually try to remember to refresh my memory about the Pilgrims and the Wampanoags around this time of year. The story of Squanto is fascinatin. As a kindergarten teacher, I try to simplify the story as much as possible. Squanto walked into the Pilgrim’s settlement and spoke to them in English. I don’t really go into the reason about why he was able to do that. It’s always tough because I’d like to set the kids down and say…”Now this is what really happened…” But, if you go to http://www.mayflowerhistory.com you can read all about it yourself if you’re unfamiliar with the story.

    I enjoy your articles immensely. Happy traveling and Happy Thanksgiving.