Cherokee History Comes Alive

CHEROKEE — The Unto These Hills Cherokee drama is back, and this time with extra drama.

For more than 50 years, the Cherokee have performed Unto These Hills, the second longest running outdoor drama in the United States.

Each summer under the stars, the story of the Cherokee in North Carolina comes to life  — complete with dance, song, pyrotechnics and a heartfelt story of Cherokee history that will tug at your heart strings.

The drama is now showing through Aug. 19, so don’t miss this opportunity to experience the Cherokee story filled with action, violence, disappointment as well as triumph and tribulation.

Guests will see the hardships of Cherokee history and the audience will be on the edge of their seat taking in the beauty and courage of the Cherokee people.

Authentic music and dance traditions are woven into the play, as are the rich stories of Cherokee legends. The historical production portrays the arrival of Spanish explorer Hernando DeSoto in 1540, the participation of the Cherokee in the Battle of Horsehoe Bend, and the removal of the Cherokee from their ancestral lands on the Trail of Tears in 1838.

Unto These Hills honors some of the most revered Cherokee heroes, including Sequoyah, creator of the Cherokee alphabet, Junaluska, the wise leader, and Tsali, the brave chief who gave his life for his people.

A large cast and technical staff recreate the pageantry of traditional festivals, a Cherokee wedding, and the world-famous Eagle Dance. Unto These Hills is set in the Mountainside Theater, an outdoor theater that seats 2,800. The theater is located at 688 Drama Road in Cherokee, and guests will be greeted by warm and welcoming Cherokee staff members.

Unto These Hills was first presented in 1950. The cast of Unto These Hills is drawn from local Cherokee people and students of the drama department at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. Each year’s production adds new elements such as new projections or sound effects — there is something new to enjoy every summer.

Tickets to the show cost $20. To purchase tickets, call1-866-554-4557. Tickets are also available at the Cherokee Historical Association Box Office from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. and at the Mountainside Theatre from 4 p.m. until show time. Order them online at

The theater is located adjacent to the Oconaluftee Indian Village. Every show begins at 8 p.m. with a preshow held at 7 p.m. with local dances and music. Performances last two hours, and is appropriate for all ages —  but note the loud explosions may scare young children.

Cherokee is just 52 miles from Asheville via I-40 West to Exit 27, then U.S. 19 to U.S. 441 in Cherokee.

About Shelby Harrell
Shelby Harrell is the news editor of the Biltmore Beacon, editor of The Guide arts and entertainment publication and is a staff writer for Mountaineer Publishing. Originally from Asheville, she has worked in journalism for more than six years and currently lives in Clyde, NC.