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Marriage Tradition Of The Ancient Cherokee

We're right of the middle of February, so I thought: what better time to talk about the ancient Cherokee love and marriage traditions that...

Places You Must Explore in the North Carolina Mountains

North Carolina Mountains is more than just a tourist spot. The different kinds of attraction that are present in this place bring out a...



Sequoyah Painting Displaying Cherokee Language

Sequoyah: A Great Cherokee Indian

There are lots of things in life that we take for granted. We are so used to them being there that we forget how...
scenic overlook along Blue Ridge Parkway

3 Overlooks Around North Carolina That You Shouldn’t Miss

Living in the city is great but sometimes you still crave some greenery. Parks are awesome but seeing mountains filled with lush trees and...


I'm Rose Fontaine: Hi! And welcome to my blog that I have dedicated to sharing my experiences in the little sky valley in the mountains of North Carolina. I have seen groups of friends come to the trails of the Appalachians to have some adventure ever since I was a child. It made me want to share some of the secrets of these valleys with everyone so that they can have a better experience and keep the forest protected. I like to share some of my traditional recipes, special viewing spots, and some of the other interesting things about these mountains with everyone. If you are planning a visit, do not forget to meet me and say Hi!



Nikwasi Mound - Franklin NC - BelleHearth.com

The Nikwasi Mound – Home Of The Fighting Nunne’Hi

On East Main Street in Franklin, NC, there is a strange i little park almost wholly dominated by an artificial hill covered in carefully...
scenic overlook along Blue Ridge Parkway

3 Overlooks Around North Carolina That You Shouldn’t Miss

Living in the city is great but sometimes you still crave some greenery. Parks are awesome but seeing mountains filled with lush trees and...


3 Overlooks Around North Carolina That You Shouldn’t Miss

Living in the city is great but sometimes you still crave some greenery. Parks are awesome but seeing mountains filled with lush trees and...


3 Overlooks Around North Carolina That You Shouldn’t Miss

scenic overlook along Blue Ridge Parkway
Living in the city is great but sometimes you still crave some greenery. Parks are awesome but seeing mountains filled with lush trees and other plants under the clear blue skies gives a fantastic feeling too. After dining in various restaurants in Cherokee, you shouldn’t forget to enjoy the natural scenic views. The mountains look amazing at any time of day. What’s even better is that you don’t even need to hike to appreciate it. You could simply go for scenic drives to experience it. You can come and take drive tours all year round but one of the best times is during autumn. It’s when the leaves change colors. Get the most out of your trip and don’t miss any of these gorgeous overlooks.

Thunderstruck Ridge

Located on the Blue Ridge Parkway, at MP 454.4, you’d find a somewhat secluded gem, the Thunderstruck ridge overlook. If you go further up the road, you’ll reach the Waterrock Knob, which is a parking lot that is filled with lots more people. The Thunderstruck Ridge is a small overlook but its views are just as good as those in Waterrock. The best thing is that it isn’t as popular so there will be fewer people and you get to enjoy the view more privately.

Richland Balsam

This overlook, found at milepost 431.4, is the highest point in the Blue Ridge Parkway. At 6,053 feet above sea level, you’ll find sites of wilderness that are quite similar to the Canadian wilderness. Fraser fir trees and red spruce are mostly found here. Ferns and a mossy natural surrounding are what you’ll also discover here. For an even better view of the mountains, you can also go for a hike. To get to the mountain summit, you’ll need to pass through an overlook located southeast of the Richland Balsam overlook.

Big Witch Gap

Beautiful colors of fall could also be seen at this overlook. Even if you don’t go here in fall, you’ll still enjoy looking at the wonderful flowers of the rosebay rhododendrons that bloom in the months of May and June. The Big Witch Gap was named after a medicine man of the Cherokee Indians. He had the sacred job of getting eagle feathers for their sacred ceremonies. He died as a 90-year-old man in 1898. Level up your viewing pleasure by packing snacks or lunch. You can comfortably dine at the picnic tables that are conveniently located in the parking lot.

Marriage Tradition Of The Ancient Cherokee

We’re right of the middle of February, so I thought: what better time to talk about the ancient Cherokee love and marriage traditions that help hold our nation together. While they may be the typical love stories in modern culture of happily-ever-afters or white gowns and wedding rings, they are no less inspiring, lasting, and beautiful. As with any great love story, it begins with meeting and courting your would-be partner…

The Courting And Proposal Phase

All of those who belong in the same clan are considered as near relatives. That means they cannot marry each other. In ancient times, intermarriage within the clan is forbidden. This is to help ensure that hereditary disorders or diseases were avoided. In order to enter courtship, a Cherokee man has to be about 17 and a woman at 15. As we’ve mentioned earlier, they have to belong to different clans. The man has to seek consent from the woman’s parents and his parent’s as well. Marriages for Cherokees don’t only involve the individuals, it also involves the clans. That is why all marriages and courtships are to be negotiated carefully and should be first approved by the clans. If the courtship or marriage is approved, it would be officiated by a priest. However, before that takes place, the priest would first gather two roots and place them on his hand while he prayed. If the roots moved together during his prayer, it means that the marriage would be happy and would be approved. On the other hand, if the roots didn’t move together, or if one root wilted faster than the other, it is considered a bad sign. This would lead the priest to forbid the marriage. During the courtship, the man would also bring an offering of deer meat to the woman’s home or clan as a symbol that he can take care of her. Men were allowed to court one woman at a time, however, there were also polygamist marriages in ancient times. These instances include that of a man that marries his brother’s widow so that someone could take care of her. Additionally, he could also marry his wife’s cousin or niece for the same reason.

The Marriage Ceremony

The marriage took place at the council house. The groom is escorted to either the north or south open space while the bride is escorted to the opposite end. They meet in the middle where there is a sacred fire. The groom’s mother bears gifts symbolizing his ability to provide support for her. Such gifs would include the deer meat and a blanket. On the bride’s side is her mother who is also holding gifts like tanned skin and food. The bride and the groom have blue blankets over their shoulders as a symbol that they are single. After the priest says prayers and blesses the couple, the bride will give the groom a black and red belt and the groom will put it on. The gifts from the mothers will be given to their children and they’ll exchange the gifts for each other. Finally, the couple will join the blankets, share a corn drink from a double-sided vessel. This vessel is broken by the priest to seal the wedding vows. The blue blankets are removed and a white blanket is wrapped over their shoulders.

The Death Penalty

Divorce is allowed but it doesn’t happen often. The blanket shared would be divided to formalize the divorce. What gets you the death penalty is the marriage between two members of the same clan. This death penalty is usually done by the members of the clan themselves. Later on, the death penalty was removed and the penalty for marrying within the clan was abolished.

Sequoyah: A Great Cherokee Indian

Sequoyah Painting Displaying Cherokee Language
There are lots of things in life that we take for granted. We are so used to them being there that we forget how important they really are. Sometimes, we only see their value in their absence. One of which is the written word. As you are reading this post, we’re using written words to convey messages and provide information. Just imagine how our life would be without written words. How would we pass down knowledge from one generation to the other. Would spoken stories passed down to one another be as reliable as a written one directly from the source? For generations, the Cherokee Indians have passed down their knowledge to the next generation without the written word. However, one man has changed the Cherokee history and that man is named Sequoyah. In a previous post, we’ve told you about the mysterious Nikwasi Mound, now let’s tell you the story of Sequoyah.

Who Is Sequoyah?

In the 1770’s Sequoyah was born in Tuskegee, Tennessee. He was called “The Lame One” because he had an early learning disability. He was also half Indian and half white. During his early years, it was a challenge for him to find his identity. Sequoyah joined the American army in the war of 1812 against the Creek Redsticks and the British. Those who were members of the Creek tribe who pledge their allegiance with the British were called the “Redsticks”. It was there that he got exposed to the different documents that the white soldiers had. He was very fascinated with them as he doesn’t have any idea about reading or writing. The American soldiers would receive letters from their wives and other family members so they can also know what’s happening at home. Some of the Cherokees, who knew English, were also able to receive such letters. However, most of them didn’t. When the war ended he went back to Tennessee. It was then when he had one goal in mind and that is to help his fellow Cherokee Indians write and read in their own language. He tried to talk with the tribal leaders and discuss his idea. However, just like other Native Americans at that time, they didn’t think highly of his idea and they wanted to stick to their tradition.

Challenges Are No Match For A Determined Soul

Even if Sequoya was turned down and ridiculed, his spirits are still high. He still wants to create a written language for the Cherokee. Working alone, he tried to turn the Cherokee language into written form. For his first try, he tried different symbols for each word. He did it for months but he just ended up with thousands of symbols and there are still more words to create symbols for. He scrapped that idea and focused on using sound. However, this also proved to be impractical because there are also lots of sounds. The impressive thing about Sequoyah was that he still strived to create a written language even if he didn’t receive support. In fact, he was also ridiculed by his fellow tribesmen. This went on for nine years. He was also labeled as a poor provider because he didn’t spend a lot of time in the farmland. He and his wife would argue and he moved out and lived in a small cabin to continue with his goal. Three more years passed before he figured out dividing the words into syllables. His daughter helped him and now they were able to reduce the Cherokee language into 86 syllables. It was in 1821 when he finally created the Cherokee alphabet. He used the English letters for the Cherokee alphabet by copying them from a newspaper, even if he can’t read them. He also used other Greek letters and added his own designs. However, the alphabet he created wasn’t exactly an alphabet but a syllabary because the symbols stand for combinations of sounds and he had a lot.

The Skeptical Cherokees

Another main problem that Sequoyah has was his fellow skeptic Cherokee Indians. He started by teaching his syllabary to those in Arkansas. They then wrote a letter to their friends in the east of Mississippi. Then he brought back the letters to Tennessee and read it. Everyone was surprised that he was able to convey a message from Arkansas and spoke it precisely as he read the letter. However, this still didn’t change the mind of the Cherokee Indians. He still needed to convince them and he did it with the help of his 12-year-old daughter. He asked the council to create a message for him while he stayed outside and his daughter wrote it down. Once he entered and read the message, the councilmen were in awe. That initiated the start. The councilmen learned the system and taught it to their families. They did this in just a few weeks’ time. Sequoyah even said that he can teach the system to others in just a week. The system spread as someone who knows the system would teach it to another. In just 3 months, almost all of the Cherokee Indians already know the written system. The system was now taught in the schools that the Cherokee Nation set-up for their children. A printing press that uses Cherokee characters was also constructed. In 1828. There were now printed publications, Bibles, magazines and hymn books that are printed using Cherokee characters.

From Being Ridiculed To Being Honored

Sequoyah, who was previously ridiculed, was now honored. He was a member of the Arkansas treaty delegation and there was even a medal struck in his honor. Charles Bird King even painted his portrait. However, the white Americans were still trying to get the lands of the Native Americans. Sequoyah moved before the Cherokee removal. He was also awarded by the Cherokee nation a unique pension of having the right to develop and sell salt that he could get from the mineral spring close to his home. This just proves how much the Native Americans respected Sequoyah’s contribution. He still continued to teach his alphabet to anyone who would want to learn them. At his old age, they moved to Mexico because he wanted to study the language of the Indians there. However, he didn’t meet any Mexican Indians and died in 1843. He has an unmarked grave that hasn’t been found. However, you can still visit his cabin at Sallisaw. There is a stone museum built around it.

Our Favorite Cherokee Restaurants Open During COVID-19

restaraurants during covid
The vast effect of the Coronavirus is felt all over the world and everyone is affected. It was on March 27th that Cherokee had its first-ever COVID-19 positive case. Since then, there have been changes made in order to help prevent the spread of the virus. People are instructed to refrain from leaving their homes and there are also some borders that were closed to non-residents and non-citizens. The restaurant industry is one of those that are affected. There are stricter dine-in restrictions and some even opted not to open for the time being. However, there are also some that provide pick-up or carry-out services only. I understand that although we can survive and thrive with home-cooked meals, such as these recipes, we still miss some food from our favorite restaurants. I’ve compiled a list of my personal favorites.

Tips For Safe Driving In The North Carolina Mountains

Rough Ridge Lookout On Blue Ridge Parkway North Carolina
What the Smokey Mountains the surround Cherokee doesn’t have in the way of jutting peaks and valleys of the Rockies in the Central US, it makes up for with abundant wildlife, trails galore, and – of course – the infamous hair-pin turns and steep declines on the roads and highways that vein around the hills and ridges. Even though I’ve lived here all my life, I still am weary taking to the mountain roads and passes, and always drive on high alert. Over time I’ve developed a few safety measure that I use every-time I drive to protect myself that I would like to share with you…

Be prepared for emergencies

Sometimes, you can be engaged in a car accident or there might be swift inclement weather. These can leave you stranded in mountainous areas for a long period. So, before you leave your house, let a family member or friend know where you are going to and when you are expected to return, and make sure that you go along with extra clothing, first aid, food, water, and tools that can be used to fix some problems in case you do not get any roadside assistance. Additionally, make sure you have a trusted towing service or roadside assistance service ready to call in case of a more serious accident or breakdown.  While cell service can be spotty, it is usually fine around the major highways and road. Here’s a great article on what to look out for when choosing a reliable on-call towing service.

Tune-up your car

You may need to give your car extra attention before you go on a trip through the mountains, most especially, after winter. Make sure that you fill-up the transmission and brake fluids. Ensure that the windshield wipers, brakes, exhaust, cooling and heating, and battery performance systems are working fine. You should also ensure that you have a spare tire available and that you inflate the whole tires. Because of the unexpected weather, terrain, and events that may affect your car, make sure that you put your vehicle in optimal condition.

Fill up

Most people do not understand that the quantity of fuel required to climb steep grades is more compared to the typical driving. Another thing is that you will hardly find a gas station in mountainous regions and there may not be a cell phone service. There are minimal shoulders and less visibility ahead in most mountain roads. If you do happen to run out of fuel/gas, you will be at risk of having a car accident. To avoid this kind of situation, you should fill up your car before embarking on the journey.

Be cautious while using brakes

When you continuously use brakes on steep grades, the brakes will quickly get overworked. If you want to use it while declining, it would be better for you to quickly and lightly tap the brake pedal (tap method) so that they can remain cool. Anticipate steep and also observe speed signs. Brake before taking the plunge to hairpin turns. Whenever you use brakes before turns, the forces will not shift to the front of the car, it will rather go to the back. This will give you more control of the vehicle and you will be able to pass through mountain roads easily.

Downshift first before downgrades

Steep topography requires you to downshift to the lower gear to have a better performance. This will help to limit the stress on the brakes of your vehicle as well as the engine and you can control your speed. Ensure that this is done before you go downhill, as it will be dangerous for you to switch gears while on steep grades.

Make use of your headlights

You need your headlights when there is fog, dawn, snow, rain, dusk, and during the night. Whenever you are in doubt, make yourself completely visible with your headlamps to cars behind and in front of you. Always remember to check that your headlights are working perfectly before you hit the roads.

The Nikwasi Mound – Home Of The Fighting Nunne’Hi

Nikwasi Mound - Franklin NC - BelleHearth.com
On East Main Street in Franklin, NC, there is a strange i little park almost wholly dominated by an artificial hill covered in carefully maintained grass. Traffic whizzes by,and no one seems to pay the mound much attention. Which is just as well, since something about it seems to want to keep a low profile and repel visitors. No one knows what that might be. Known as Nikwasi Mound, it is at least 1,000 years old and may be a great deal older than that.

Places You Must Explore in the North Carolina Mountains

North Carolina Mountains
North Carolina Mountains is more than just a tourist spot. The different kinds of attraction that are present in this place bring out a homely feeling that is sure to capture everyone’s imagination. As a result, coming ahead to witness them will be of great help to raise a toast to adventure. But if you’re confused about where to begin, then our following list will clarify everything. From the Mingo Falls to Biltmore Gardens, we have listed the most beautiful places in the North Carolina Mountains. Hence, go ahead and check it out.