Asheville. Land of the Sky. A city that seems to rise up from the mountains and touch the clouds. Why not take this Labor Day weekend to get out of the city and learn more about the true history of these mountains we call our home? The place that Asheville inhabits was once a part of the Cherokee Nation. For over 10,000 years the Cherokee people traveled through here, hunting and securing food for their families. At first glance Asheville might seem to have come a far way from its Cherokee roots. Look closer.
Beyond the skyline lies the same blue mountains layered against the same arching sky. The character of this place remains, its soul untouched and alive all around us. Just an hour’s ride from Asheville is the Qualla Boundary, all that remains of the once vast Cherokee Nation. Yet all is not lost. The people are still there, still preserving the heritage of their ancient culture. They still live in the mountains, fish in the rivers, tell their stories around the fire. Some of you may have been there. You may have driven through and seen all of the t-shirt shops and the guy who stands at the side of the road wearing a feather headdress which is decidedly not Cherokee. Coming from Asheville, a place that prides itself on authenticity, you may have decided that Cherokee is too commercialized for you. Sold out. Touristy. Look closer. This Labor Day weekend is the perfect opportunity for you to dispel these misconceptions. Come check out the Cherokee Bonfire at Oconaluftee Islands Park near downtown Cherokee, and let the Cherokee tell you their story for themselves.
This is the last weekend of the year, so try to make it out while there’s still time. The bonfire begins at 7:30 pm, and will be held this Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Listen as the speakers impart knowledge their people have gained from living in these mountains for millennia. You might even learn something about yourself. Then settle in around the fire for an evening of storytelling in the great oral tradition. For more information on the bonfire and other things to do while you’re there, head over to my blog, LOCUS: A journey in search of PLACE at http://kerrinicolecasey.
wordpress.com. If you can’t make it this weekend, please go to Cherokee Bonfire on Facebook and Like the page. This helps ensure that the sponsors keep this amazing tradition alive for another year.
Blog Post by Kerri Nicole Casey. Photos by Brian Casey.