Time travel to Diligwa, a 1710 Cherokee Village, opening June 3 on the historic grounds of the Cherokee Heritage Center. The new outdoor living exhibit will provide guests with an enhanced experience of authentic Cherokee life and history. Diligwa is the most authentic Cherokee experience in the world based on life in the early 1700s.
Diligwa is a name derivative of Tellico, a village in the east that was once the principal Cherokee town and is now underwater. Tellico was the Cherokee Nation capital and center of commerce before the emergence of Echota in Monroe County, Tenn. Tellico was often referred to as the “wild rice place” and became synonymous with a native grain that grew in the flat open spaces of east Tennessee. Many believe when the Cherokees first arrived in Indian Territory, the native grasses that grew in the open spaces around the foothills of the Ozarks reminded them of the grassy open areas of Tellico. They called their new home “Di li gwa,” Tah-le-quah or Teh-li-co, “the open place where the grass grows.”
The new village will provide visitors the chance to experience Cherokee life in the early 18th century and will feature 19 wattle and daub structures, 14 interpretive stations, and a detailed historic landscape set on four acres of land adjacent to the Cherokee Heritage Center.
Visitors can witness daily life as they are guided through the interpretive stations where crafts are demonstrated, stories are told, and Cherokee lifeways are explained.
The overall village includes eight residential sites, each with a Cherokee summer house and winter house, a corn crib, a “kitchen garden” and additional landscaping. The public complex consists of the primary council house and summer council pavilion overlooking a large plaza that served as the center of community activity. In addition, two recreation areas featuring a marble field and stickball field will showcase the Cherokee games that are still played today.
The new outdoor living exhibit was funded by endowments from Cherokee Nation Businesses, the Tom J. and Edna Mae Carson Foundation, Mary K. Chapman Foundation, Boyd Group and Mary Ellen Meredith.