“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.