THE JUNALUSKA MUSEUM IS TEMPORARILY CLOSED FOR REPAIRS FOLLOWING STORM DAMAGE.
The Junaluska Memorial and Museum honor this Cherokee leader who was who was held in high esteem by both Cherokees and whites. Seven large granite markers erected around his grave tell the story of his life, 1776-1858, which was shaped by the events of the turbulent period leading up to and following Removal. The Junaluska Museum, located just downhill, provides further information about his life. There, exhibits of artifacts from the Cheoah Valley date back more than 6,000 years, and information on the Trail of Tears is presented. Community members like Iva Rattler and Jim Bowman who helped to create the museum and who often volunteer here provide additional information on Junaluska and the Snowbird Cherokees. Baskets, beadwork, silversmithing, and other crafts made by Cherokee people are sold here. Recently, the museum created a “Medicine Plants” walking trail that loops around the hill below the grave site, and the Friends of Junaluska are planning to expand their programming.
Born in 1776 in the village of Echoe, near present-day Dillard, Georgia, Junaluska and his family kept moving as the borders of the Cherokee territory kept shrinking – first to land on the Cullasaja River and then near the Valley Towns. In 1811, Cherokee oral tradition records that he met with Tecumseh at Soco Gap and declined, for the Cherokees, Tecumseh’s offer to join him and all other tribes in uniting to defeat the whites.
Junaluska’s contemporaries described him as tall and dignified, and say that he was a good speaker. His name comes from the Cherokee language tsunalahvski – “He tried and failed,” because he boasted that he would go and kill all the Creeks, and when he returned, having obviously failed, this was the name he took. A courageous warrior and natural leader, Junaluska had three wives, having been widowed twice, and his descendants still live among the Eastern Band today.
The remarks of Reverend Armstrong Cornsilk were delivered in Cherokee language and translated into English by Lewis Smith. They were taken down by one of those present:
“Ladies and gentlemen, friends: We have met here at Junaluska’s grave. We have met as friends and brothers and sisters. We are refreshing our memories over Juno’s burial.
“We appreciate his going to war, and gaining the big victory for Jackson. The Cherokees and whites were fighting the Creeks at that time. And we Cherokees feel that it was through him we have the privilege of being here today.
“I knew Juno at that time. I knew him well. I recollect how he looked. He wore the hair cut off the back of his head, and he would plait the hair on top of his head so as to make it stick up like horns.
“He was a good man. He was a good friend. He was a good friend in his home and everywhere. He would ask the hungry man to eat. He would ask the cold one to warm by his fire. He would ask the tired one to rest, and he would give a good place to sleep. Juno’s home was a good home for others.
“He was a smart man. He made his mind think good. He was very brave. He was not afraid.
“Juno at this time has been dead about fifty years. I am glad he is up above [pointing upward.] I am glad we have this beautiful monument. It shows Junaluska did good, and it shows we all appreciate him together – having a pleasant time together.”
“I hope we shall all meet Junaluska in heaven [pointing upward] and all be happy there together.”
Contact: Junaluska Museum, T.J. Holland, Cultural Resources Manager, Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians P.O. Box 455 Cherokee NC 28719. 828 479-6352