The 21st-century town of Cherokee sparkles with modern architecture, a bustling shopping district, and numerous tourist attractions. Beneath its progressive exterior is an ancient homeland where Cherokee people once lived in villages that occupied parts of eight modern states. They hunted game along steep mountainsides and planted fields of corn, squash, and beans, known as the “Three Sisters,” along rivers and streams. The Cherokee who now live in western North Carolina are descended from those who did not travel the “Trail of Tears” but remain on a portion of their original homeland. Today, the Eastern Band of Cherokee is a sovereign nation. The tribe works to preserve its language and culture through the promotion of heritage destinations. Sited at the entrance to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Blue Ridge Parkway, Cherokee is home to the Oconaluftee Indian Village, Unto These Hills, Qualla Arts and Crafts Mutual, and Museum of the Cherokee Indian.