Road Trip 6: Cherokee, NC – Suches, GA

Day 6: Cherokee, NC - Suches, GA
Day 6: Cherokee, NC – Suches, GA

Cherokee

Having had a brief reacquaintance with vegetables the previous evening, we decided to start the day the southern way, with an all-you-can-eat breakfast at Granny’s Kitchen. As we arrived at about 10.30am and breakfast ended at 11, we were directed to heap everything on our first place. This was my attempt:

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Granny’s artery-clogging breakfast!

The breakfast was a cardiologist’s nightmare, but was seriously good: grits, biscuits, fried potatoes, applesauce, sausages, bacon, fried cornbread…a proper southern brunch.

Museum of the Cherokee Indian 

From there, we visited the excellent Museum of the Cherokee Indian, which covered both traditional Cherokee culture in the Smokies and the effects on the Cherokee of white settlement in the area. After initial heavy loss of life caused by European diseases, there seems to have been ongoing trade despite the intermittent conflict between the British and the Cherokee.

A special exhibition covered a unique event in 1762, when, as part of a peace treaty after a period of conflict, the Cherokee requested that a British soldier come and live among them to learn about their ways. The soldier, Henry Timberlake, stayed 3 months, and then three Cherokee leaders – Ostenaco, Cunneshote and Woyi – in turn took the ship to London, where they caused quite a sensation, meeting King George III and visiting a range of sites. Following the visit, the King decreed that no further encroachment on Indian lands west of the Mississippi should take place, but this appears not to have been observed by the settlers, and certainly wasn’t by the new United States of America after 1776.

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Contemporary British engraving of the Cherokee visit to London.

The museum also covered the devastation caused in the 1830s, when heavy pressure (led by President Andrew Jackson) was placed on the Native American tribes to cede their land in the eastern states and accept land further west. Having seen the forced removal of other tribes, a faction of self-appointed Cherokee negotiators signed the Treaty of New Echota, in which they ceded all rights to land east of the Mississippi. Although these men had no rights to sign away the land, most Cherokee were forced to leave, leading to the Trail of Tears, in which an estimated 4,000 Cherokee died en route to Oklahoma. However, a group of Cherokees were able to successfully negotiate rights to their land, and formed the Eastern Band of Cherokees, who still live in the area around Cherokee, NC today.

The museum was comprehensive and focused on the survival and adaptation of the Cherokee through the adverse circumstances they have faced. After all of the Southern pride we’d encountered, it was quite sobering to remember that the Southerners we’ve met are far from the original inhabitants of these mountains, and that a much older culture was displaced, and partially destroyed, only a few hundred years ago.

Suches 

To break up the drive down to Alabama, we decided at the last minute to book an Airbnb on the outskirts of Suches, a small town in North Georgia, and we are very glad we did! We stayed with Joni and her two children, who live in a beautiful house in the countryside with, according to the Airbnb listing, various animals.

When (after getting a little lost on roads with fantastic names like ‘Grizzle Creek’ and ‘Johnny Gap’), we finally pulled up, only to be greeted by a rambunctious welcoming committee of seven puppies! The puppies were seven-week old purebred Great Pyrenees, and were some of the cutest things I have ever laid eyes on.

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She would have been so easy to steal…

They all loved belly rubs and cuddles (although, of course, the most affectionate of them all was also the one who was particularly fond of rolling in shit). There were also two chocolate labs (the puppies’ parents were guard dogs with the livestock, so weren’t around), a small terrier, and five cats, and so we passed a lovely evening sitting reading on the deck, chatting outside in the country to Joni’s kids and petting the absurdly cute pets. Definitely a nice change from a motel!

Highlights: A big breakfast, a great museum, and seven puppies – all in all a pretty good day on the road!

Lowlights: Unsuccessfully trying to dodge a hug from ‘Shitback,’ the most affectionate of the puppies.

Up next: Rosa Parks, catfish and collard greens, a one-eyed robot…

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