We welcome you to join us in the 18th Century to see what life was like for the Cherokee Indians of the North Carolina mountains. Our Oconaluftee Indian Village is an experience unlike any other, offering an intriguing glimpse into the past. Book your entry ticket online!
Unto These Hills
New dates for the 2024 Season:
May 25th to August 17th
- VIP Ticket Reserved Seating for Unto, Backstage Tour, Souvenir Bag (Popcorn/Bottled Water/Poncho)
- Reserved Seating - Adult Ages 12+
- Reserved Seating - Child Ages 6 - 11
- General Admission - Adult No reserved seating • Ages 12+
- General Admission - Child No reserved seating • Ages 6 - 11
Watch “Unto These Hills” Outdoor Drama for the Story of the Cherokee in North Carolina!
You can feel a slight chill run up your spine; but not from the mountain winds shifting their direction in anticipation of the coming dusk. It is from your anticipation of the coming outdoor drama! “Unto These Hills” drama is the tragic and triumphant story of the Cherokee that traces back to the years before the heartbreak of the Trail of Tears to the present day. Millions of people have witnessed America’s most powerful drama, which rewrites the Cherokee’s place in the world. A place based on traditional Cherokee values and modern sensibilities.
The play opens with the arrival of the Spanish Conquistador, Hernando DeSoto in 1540. The appearance of DeSoto and his army establishes an ominous portent of what will befall the Cherokee Nation during the next three-hundred years. Early on, the famous Cherokee leader, Yonaguska deliberates the fate of all Native peoples, and yet charts a peaceful course with his white neighbors and the American government. He even joins forces with Andrew Jackson at the famous Battle of Horseshoe Bend where another famous Cherokee leader, Junaluska saves Jackson’s life. Despite this, Jackson will later develop policies as President that usurp previous promises of Cherokee sovereignty and deliberately charts a course for the removal of the Cherokee from their traditional homelands. The discovery of gold in Cherokee County in 1835 sets the stage for tribal lands to be overrun by the whites, who illegally occupy lands, build settlements and town, and generally disregard the cultural practices and freedoms of the Native population. Also during this time, unscrupulous land agents descend upon area, carrying out the Manifest Destiny ideology, as well as creating deep divisions among the Cherokee people. It is at this point where the heartbreaking story of Tsali and his family begins to unfold. His unrelenting mistrust of the United States Government, along with his intense love of his people and their traditional ways, gives rise to an inevitable – and ultimately deadly — clash between him and the over-powering forces of the United States Army.
Tsali’s resistance to removal leads to the untimely death of his beloved wife, Wilani, as well as him and his sons near the end of the play. They sacrifice themselves so that a small group of Cherokee will be able to remain in their homeland. But sadly, shortly following the men’s execution, the infamous Trail of Tears begins. Despite this dark and tragic episode in the lives of the Cherokee, the ending of the play is filled with beautifully sculpted imagery and effective emotional symmetry, symbolizing the re-emergence of a people whose spiritual fortitude, social complexities, and human courage will never be broken.
Directions to “Unto These Hills” in Cherokee, NC:
If you are traveling from Knoxville, Tennessee (approx.2 hours): Take 1-40 east into North Carolina to exit 27 (US 74, the Great Smoky Mountains expressway). Continue west on US 74 beyond Waynesville, Sylva and Dillsboro to exit 74 which is the Cherokee exit. This will put you on Hwy.441. You will turn right at the third red light and left at the next light. Our box office will be on your right just before the next light. To get to our attractions, turn left onto Drama Road at the red light between our office and the Museum of the Cherokee Indian. Follow Drama Road all the way up. The road ends at our parking area.
If you are traveling from Atlanta, Georgia (approx. 3 hours): Take I-85 north to I-985. This road will change into US 23 and then US 23/Hwy. 441. After passing through the towns of Clayton, Georgia and Franklin North Carolina; you will arrive in Dillsboro where you will continue on Hwy 441 (left lane, up the hill) west towards Cherokee and the Great Smoky Mountains Expressway. From this road you will take exit 74, which again becomes Hwy. 441 and will lead you into Cherokee where you will turn right at the third red light and left at the next light. Our box office will be on your right, just before the next light. To get to our attractions, turn left onto Drama Road at the red light between our office and the Museum of the Cherokee Indian. Follow Drama Road all the way up. The road ends at our parking area.
If you are traveling from Asheville, North Carolina (approx. 1 hour): Take I-40 west to exit 27 (Great Smoky Mountains Expressway). Continue west passing by Waynesville, Sylva and Dillsboro. Take exit 74, which is Hwy 441 towards Cherokee. At the third red light take a right and at the next light take a left. Our box office will be on your right, just before the next light. To get to our attractions, turn left onto Drama Road at the red light between our office and the Museum of the Cherokee Indian. Follow Drama Road all the way up. The road ends at our parking area.