“It’s always been my belief that we were put here in the beginning. This is our land. This is where our Creator wanted us to be, because this is where he put us. …”
– Marie Junaluska

From the serene peaks of the Balsams to the muddy banks of the Little Tennessee River, Cherokee Heritage Trails wind through the southern Appalachians, telling the story of the Cherokee people, Ani-Kituhwa-gi, who once commanded all of the Southern Appalachians. Although most of the Cherokee were forcibly removed to Oklahoma on the Trail of Tears in 1838, a small group remained in their homeland, becoming the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. Today they own about 57,000 acres – the Qualla Boundary, a remnant of their ancestral lands.

Cherokee, NC

Cherokee and the Qualla Boundary provide a unique opportunity to visit Cherokee people where they live, work, and raise their families. In this nation-within-a nation, about eight thousand members of the Eastern Band maintain their culture and their communities on a small remnant of their ancestral homelands.


Robbinsville, NC

In Robbinsville, the Junaluska Museum and Gravesite serve as the center for Cherokee Heritage Trails. At this small, remarkable museum created by members of the Snowbird community of Cherokees from the Eastern Band, you will find information on sites and events in this area.


Franklin, NC

The Cherokee Middle Towns stretched along the Little Tennessee River and its tributaries from its headwaters to its passage through the Smokies – towns every few miles, surrounded by fields and connected by trails and by the river.


Murphy, NC

In Murphy, the “Leech Place” of Cherokee lore, the Cherokee Heritage Trails interpretive center can be found at the Cherokee County Historical Museum. Outside stands a giant soapstone mud turtle, Saligugi, found in a quarry along the nearby Nottely River.


Vonore, TN

This story foretells the survival of the Cherokee people, and so it is no surprise that it is located at Old Echota, one of the three original Cherokee cities where the sacred fire burned.


Red Clay, TN

The visitors center at Red Clay illuminates nineteenth century Cherokee life in the early republic and details the federal removal policy and the 1838 military removal of Cherokees from eastern Tennessee.


Calhoun, GA

Beginning more than a thousand years ago, the Cherokee culture that we recognize today spread across the landscape of all of north Georgia, leaving mounds, spear points, pottery, the names of rivers and creeks, and legends that are still told by Cherokee storytellers.