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Photo of the Cherokee Eagle Dance in Unto These Hills
The Cherokee Eagle Dance as seen in the outdoor drama Unto These Hills of Cherokee, North Carolina, 1968

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Unto These Hills
A Local Legacy

Often the best material for drama comes from real life. Each summer, a play called Unto These Hills is performed in Cherokee, North Carolina. It tells the history of the Cherokee Indians, including the journey they took from their homes in Georgia to Oklahoma. This journey is called the "Trail of Tears." Do you know why?

The Cherokee Indians lived in the southeastern United States. By the late 1700s, white settlers began taking their land. In 1838 and 1839, U.S. troops forced 15,000 Cherokees to march from their homes in Georgia to northeastern Oklahoma. About 4,000 Cherokees died from starvation, cold weather, illness, and exhaustion from the long 116-day journey. That march is known as the "Trail of Tears." Not all Cherokees left Georgia, however. A few hundred managed to escape to the mountains, and their descendants now live in North Carolina.

Today, some of those Cherokee Indian descendants take part in the play, Unto These Hills.

In this photograph, players are performing the Cherokee Eagle Dance, which was originally a victory celebration. The Cherokees respect and honor the eagle because of its strength.

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