9 Lakes Region - Middle East Tennessee Tourism Council

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 Native American Heritage


1. Frank H. McClung Museum
Archaeology and the Native Peoples of Tennessee is the result of more than 65 years of research by University of Tennessee archaeologists.

With the creation of the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) in 1933, there arose an immediate concern for the thousands of prehistoric and historic Native American sites that would be inundated by reservoirs along the Tennessee River and its tributaries. Hundreds of sites were recorded, and archaeologists from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, exposed and excavated more than 1.5 million square feet of prehistoric and historic Native American occupations.

The material forms one of the most important research collections in the eastern United States, and many of the objects rank among the finest examples of prehistoric Native American art. Some of the finest objects representing the 12,000-year occupation of Tennessee by Native Americans are displayed in this exhibition. UT, 1327 Circle Park Drive, Knoxville 37996-3200, Phone: 865-974-2144, Free admission

2. East Tennessee History Center 
Regional history museum with extensive archives, exhibits and programs plus the home of premier genealogy research library. 601 S. Gay Street, Knoxville, TN 37902, 865-215-8826

3. Blount Mansion 
Nestled in the center of Downtown Knoxville's government district, Blount Mansion offers history that is hard to miss. Here, among the towers of glass, steel and brick, sits a house - small by today's standards, but a mansion on the Tennessee frontier. Known by the Cherokee Indians as "the house with many eyes," Blount Mansion has watched American history parade through its rooms and on the streets outside. Step inside and experience "The Birthplace of Tennessee." Blount Mansion also features a modern Visitors Center with a gift shop, historical exhibits, and an art gallery featuring some of Eastern Tennessee's finest artists. 200 W. Hill Ave., Knoxville, TN 37902, 865-525-2375

4. Sequoyah Birthplace Museum
Sequoyah was born circa 1776 at the village of Tuskeegee, which was very near where the Museum is today. His father was Nathaniel Gist, a Virginia fur trader. His mother was Wut-teh, daughter of a Cherokee Chief.

Sequoyah married a Cherokee, had a family and was a silversmith by trade. Sequoyah and other Cherokees enlisted on the side of the United States under General Andrew Jackson to fight the British troops and the Creek Indians in the war of 1812.

Although Sequoyah was exposed to the concept of writing early in his life, he never learned the English alphabet. He began to toy with the idea of literacy for the Cherokee people. Unlike the white soldiers, he and the other Cherokees were not able to write letters home, read military orders, or record events as they occurred. After the war, he began in earnest to create a writing system for the Cherokees.
When he returned home after the war, he began to make the symbols that could make words. He finally reduced the thousands of Cherokee thoughts to 85 symbols representing sounds. He made a game of this new writing system and taught his little girl Ayoka how to make the symbols.
   
In 1821, after 12 years working on the new language, he and his daughter introduced his syllabary to the Cherokee people. Within a few months thousands of Cherokees became literate.

In recognition of his contributions, the Cherokee Nation awarded Sequoyah a silver medal created in his honor and a lifetime literary pension. He continued to serve Cherokee people as a statesman and diplomat until his death. 576 Tennessee 360, Vonore, TN 37885-2816, (423) 884-6469

5. Fort Loudoun State Historic Area (PICTURED ABOVE)
During the French and Indian War (1754-1763) the British Colony of South Carolina felt threatened by French activities in the Mississippi Valley. To counter this threat, the Colony sent the Independent Company of South Carolina to construct and garrison what became Fort Loudoun. This move helped to ally the Overhill Cherokee Nation in the fight against the French and guaranteed the trade would continue between the Cherokee and South Carolina.
In the course of the fort’s four-year existence, relations between South Carolina and the Cherokee Nation broke down. In August, 1760, the Cherokee captured Fort Loudoun and its garrison.

After the surrender in 1760, Fort Loudoun was never used again for any military purpose. It is thought the Cherokees destroyed the fort sometime shortly after the English marched away. In 1762, Lt. Henry Timberlake wrote in his memoirs that he “went to Tommotly, taking Fort Loudon (sic) in the way, to examine the ruins”.

Authentic reconstruction of a typical 18th century Cherokee winter house located on the grounds of Fort Loudoun State Historic Park. 338 Fort Loudoun Road, Vonore, Tennessee 37885, Phone 423-884-6217, Free admission

6. The Lost Sea Adventure
Take an inspiring tour through huge caverns – large enough to hold a two-story building. See colorful rock formations, a waterfall and even an old moonshine still. Deep in the cave, take a guided boat trip across America’s largest underground lake (almost three football fields long) for an adventure you’ll always remember. Screen for gems at Red Ruby’s Gem Mine. With the picnic pavilion and the restaurant on site, you’ve got a perfect full day’s-worth of activities. Open year-round. 140 Lost Sea Road, Sweetwater, TN 37874, 423-337-6616

7. Fort Armistead
The Cherokee National Forest announced the acquisition of the historic site where Fort Armistead once stood at Coker Creek, Tenn. It began as a “stand” on the Unicoi Turnpike but later served as a federal fort to protect Cherokee lands from the encroachment of gold prospectors. During the Trail of Tears the site was used as an encampment for more than 3,000 Cherokee Indians who were forcibly moved to the west. 727 Tennessee Avenue, Coker Creek, TN 37331, 423-263-7232

8. The Cherohala Skyway Visitor Center
Featuring the Charles Hall Museum, which consists of the private collections of Mr. Charles Hall, the museum displays over 200 guns, an extensive phone collection from years past, and Native American artifacts, a one of a kind Model T Telephone truck, Historical pictures of the area, and loads of antiques from our region. Open Mon. - Sun. from 9 AM to 5 PM. 225 Cherohala Skyway, Tellico Plains, TN 37385, 1-877-444-6777, Free admission

9. Forbidden Caverns
As one of America’s most spectacular caves, you will see sparkling formations, towering natural chimneys, numerous grottos and a crystal-clear stream. The Eastern Woodland Indians who roamed East Tennessee forests and mountains in search of good hunting grounds were once ancient dwellers in the cavern. Chert or flint is found here in limited quantities and was used hundreds of years ago to fashion arrowheads, scraper and knives. A stream within the cavern gave the Indians a constant supply of water. An interesting Indian legend tells the fate of an Indian princess who was lost in a “hollow mountain of two streams…which is forbidden.” 455 Blowing Cave Road, Sevierville, TN 37876, 865-453-5972

10. Sam Houston Schoolhouse
Go back in time to 1812, to the year Samuel Houston taught school at this historic site. Receive a warm welcome from our director, who greets you in traditional Cherokee attire. Take a walk through the native herb & flower garden and learn how they were used by the pioneers. Relive a day at school in colonial times. Visit with costumed museum interpreters who will help answer your questions about the schoolhouse, artifacts and grounds. 3650 Old Sam Houston School Road, Maryville, TN 37804, 865-983-1550

11. Tuckaleechee Caverns
More than a century ago the Indians discovered and hid in these caverns. As boys, Bill Vananda and Harry Myers played in and around the mountains and its caves. As they became adults they remembered these caverns and determined that such awesome and wonderful sights should be opened to the public. So walkways were built of concrete and the great caverns illuminated for the world to see the greatest sights under the Smokies! 825 Cavern Rd., Townsend, TN 37882, 865-448-2274

12. Swaggerty Fort
In 1787 James Swaggerty built this unique, cantilevered fort for protection against the Indians. It reached out over a stream allowing the inhabitants to lower a bucket directly into it to obtain water without venturing outside. The Indians out-foxed them though. They went upstream and built a dam to divert the flow! This is the only block house left from that period in Cocke County. Hwy 321 2 miles north of Parrottsville, TN 37821, (423) 625-9675

Notes:
• Some attractions are seasonal – so be sure to call ahead.
• Cave tours make excellent cold/rainy weather excursions!
• Everything listed is within about an hour’s drive of Knoxville.
• 1- 3 are in Knoxville; 4 – 8 are near each other but a lot to do in one day; 10 & 11are both in Blount County
• For more information: www.easttnvacations.com