Welcome to the Cherokee Heritage Museum and Gallery, a
living legacy of the Cherokee people and their heritage. The
museum interprets Cherokee culture, legends, and history
through the creations of living Cherokee artisans. Currently,
a visitor can see more than 1,000 objects exhibited and
accompanied by an audio narration. Many more stored art
objects are available for outreach programs including lectures,
consultation services, and traveling museum exhibits. The
entire Cherokee Heritage Collection comprises the world’s
largest collection of contemporary Cherokee arts and crafts.
The museum’s exhibits include beadwork, paintings, prints,
baskets, pottery, dolls, wood and stone sculptures, weaponry,
gourd art, tools, leather, feather, bone, antler works and an
excellent collection of masks, including Cherokee Booger
Dance masks. The Museum centerpiece is the famed Eagle
Dancer, a cherry wood sculpture by John Julius Wilnoty.
The Cherokee Heritage Museum and Gallery also possesses an extensive library of books,
professional articles, and AV recordings that researchers can access. These resources are available
for students from primary school through college level and doctoral scholars, as well as the general
public. This is currently available by appointment only.
The directors and curators of the Museum are R. Michael Abram, M.D. and Susan Abram, M.A. Dr.
Abram is a physician who completed his medical training at Indiana University and has studied Native
American culture with an emphasis on the Cherokee for over thirty years. As a noted researcher and
expert, he travels throughout the country giving lectures on Cherokee history, legends, and culture. Dr.
Abram has served as a consultant on various projects, including documentaries such as “Cherokee:
The Principal People” for Significant Communication, “Great Smoky Mountains” for the World Heritage
Series, Tokyo, Japan Broadcasting System, the “Snowbird Cherokee” for South Carolina Public
Television, and a video on “Native American Gambling” for the Canadian Cable Travel Channel. He
has also authored entries in the American Indian Reference and Resource Manual, including “The
Cherokee Wedding Ceremony,” “Seven: The Sacred Number,” and “The Uku Dance.” Dr. Abram was
a consultant and an exhibit designer for the Red Clay Historical Site in Cleveland, Tennessee and the
Trail of Tears Interpretive Center in Hopkinsville, Kentucky. He has placed on loan, items from the
Cherokee Heritage Collection in various museums across the country.
Susan Abram has an M.A. degree in American History from Western Carolina University and is currently
a Ph.D. candidate at Auburn University. She is an adjunct facility member at Western Carolina
University and is also well versed in Cherokee culture. Ms. Abram has worked with Dr. Abram on many
exhibits and is a co-founder of the museum. She is a writer and researcher and her publications include
“The Cherokees in Alabama,” published in the online Encyclopedia of Alabama, 2008, and “Sequoyah,”
forthcoming in 2009. Some of her professional presentations include “Teaching Cherokee Removal: An
Updated Strategy” for the Georgia Association for History, 2008, “War, Gender, and Community in the
Making of Cherokee Men into the 19th Century” for the Society for American Ethnohistory, 2007, Tulsa,
Oklahoma, and “The Truth about the Cherokee Alliance during the Creek War” for the Society for
Ethnohistory, 2006, at Williamsburg, Virginia.
Dr. Michael Abram is available for consultations or questions
about Cherokee culture, lectures, and traveling museum
exhibits. He has received several recognitions for his work
including a commendation for the Museum Center at Five
Points in Cleveland, Tennessee from the Tennessee Museum
Association for his 2005 on loan exhibit on “Cherokee Women:
In Legend and Life” and the Sequoyah Award from the East
Tennessee Indian League in 2000. Another exhibit by Dr.
Abram was at the Chattanooga Regional History Museum in
2006, titled “From the River to the Trail.” This exhibit featured
over 150 objects and told the story of the Cherokee’s
relationship with the river in the Chattanooga area and the
history of the Trail of Tears. Contact Dr. Michael and Susan
Abram at 828-497-3211 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
Dr. Abram holds a Blue Clan mask and a
Buffalo Hunting mask by Virgil Crowe, EBCI.
The Cherokee Heritage Museum and Gallery is located at Saunooke Village in Cherokee, NC. The
museum is open daily from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. from mid-March through mid-November or by
special appointment. If traveling from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, take U.S. 441 S. to
Cherokee, turn left at the first stoplight onto Acquoni Road, cross the river, and turn left into the
Saunooke Village parking lot. If traveling from U.S. 74, take exit 74 onto U.S. 441 N. through
Cherokee, turn right on Acquoni Road at the last stoplight before entering the Great Smoky
Mountains National Park. Cross the river and turn left into the parking lot for Saunooke Village. The
Cherokee Heritage Museum and Gallery is located on the brick walkway, third building on the right.
The purpose of the Cherokee Heritage Museum and
Gallery is to honor the Cherokee people through the
preservation of their arts and crafts. The Museum
does not collect ancient Indian artifacts from
archeological sites nor does it display ceremonial,
spiritual, or burial objects. Instead the Museum
exhibits Cherokee artisan creations, which express
their past and present culture. The Cherokee people’s
arts are unique to them, help to define who they are,
and set them apart from other world cultures. The
Cherokee Heritage Collection, which began in 1973, is
a testimony to the continuing existence of the
Cherokee and demonstrates the connection from their
past to the present toward their future. The Cherokee
Heritage Collection is a national treasure of Cherokee
arts from the late 20th and into the 21st century.
“Cherokee Mother” Song from Tommy’s 1999 CD: The Fire People
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