visual storyteller, photojournalist, stills, video, drone

The Rez

Cherokee, or the Qualla Boundary (more than 56,000 acres held in trust by the federal government), is home to about 9,000 of the 13,000 members of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. Nestled in the Great Smoky Mountains and bordering the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, Cherokee is surrounded by some of North Carolina’s most breathtaking scenery.

During the 1940s and ’50s, seasonal tourism overtook logging as the mainstay of Cherokee’s economy. Indian iconography and relics of 1950s and ’60s tourism coexist with chain hotels and fast-food restaurants. In 1997 the tribe opened the glitzy, upscale Harrah’s Cherokee Casino, one of the largest employers in North Carolina west of Charlotte. Gaming has pumped hundreds of millions into Cherokee’s long impoverished economy, making Cherokee a powerful economic force in Western North Carolina.

Along with other changes in Cherokee has come the desire to move beyond the stereotyped images associated with the town, to embrace instead a more authentic representation of tribal heritage.

Unto These Hills: The Native Truth

2 Responses to “The Rez”

  1. Valerie Mangual says:

    Hi Travis,
    What beautiful work you do!

  2. Annette Slaughter says:

    I have used this site with my 8th graders for the last two years. Thanks for your remarkable work; it is inspiring!!

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