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Commemorative Landscapes of North Carolina
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  • Monument Name

    The Eternal Flame, Cherokee

  • Type

    Abstract Sculpture

  • Subjects

    Tragedy

    American Indian Monuments

    Local History

  • City

    Cherokee

  • County

    Jackson

  • Description

    The Eternal Flame memorial is a hexagonal sculpture around five feet tall, located near the entrance to the Mountainside Theater, where the historical drama Unto These Hills is performed. It consists of a stone base topped by a glass hexagon containing the flame. It is topped by a copper roof with a vent.

  • Inscription

    (Circling the memorial): JUSTIN ALEXANDER GILLELAND / G.B. AND MARY CHILTOSKEY / HELEN L. HARDING / ELLIOTT CARRIE LAMBERT / MARTHA E. “MATTIE” MATHIS / SAVANNAH FERGUSON / GEORGE AND DELLA OWL / DUGAN CARROLL / JOHN, VALERIE AND POLLY TISSUE / SAMANTHA FERGUSON / MOLLIE GLOYNE BLANKENSHIP / WILLIAM C. JORDAN / TODD AND POOH LANCASTER / ROWENA COLEY / VERNON M. HORNBUCKLE / ROY AND GEORGIA BLANKENSHIP / TERRY 2 TRAILS WINBUSH / LAMBERT G. WILSON / BEULAH TAYLOR / BERRETTE C. HORNBUCKLE / HOPPY FERGUSON / LULA OWL / SIMEON TAYLOR / FRED AND EVELYN PRICE / KATIE BRADY / LLOYD BIGWICH-LONG/ BOB AND LAURA BLANKENSHIP / WINNI MAE HARRIS MOORE / JOSHUA DANIEL SMITH / JUNE G. SMITH / BARBARA PARKER FERGUSON / DAVEY L . SMITH / KAREN AND JAMES E. HODGE III / DINAH AND DAN GLOYNE / OSSIE CROWE “G.B.” / TIMOTHY DAVID WARE / JESSIE, JULIE, SARAH & SAM / FRED AND GLADYS OWL / LULA OWLE GLOYNE / DWIGHT C. PRICE / JODIE AND CARROLL COOK / TOBY WADE / ROBERT “BONEHEAD” BIRD / ROBERT HENRY BUSHYHEAD / JESSE JAMES LOSSIAH JR. / THOMAS D. “TOM” UNDERWOOD / DEAN AND LAURA WEBER / KAITLIN WOLFE BLAYLOCK / DEE T. SMITH, ART TEACHER / JOY “FEATHERTALK” DAVIS / THE JOHNSON FAMILY 1976 / JONATHAN J. MOYLE COOPER / EMILY WOLFE SMITH / CAROLINE D. LEDFORD & GIRLS / RALPH M. ALLRED / RALPH & JOAN HENRY / DAVID L. MCLENDON / JOHN S. HORNBUCKLE / JO ANN SMITH BLAYLOCK / KATHLEEN PARKER WELCH / BOB AND KATHY PROCTOR / LLOYD BIGWICH-LONG, SR. / LEVI SMITH / SAMUEL AND FRANCES BECK / STEPHEN AND DONNA ROBINS / CHIEF LEON JONES / SARAH S. BECK / HAROLD AND BEVERLY DUCKETT / SAVANNAH BIGWITCH LONG / LEONARD CARSON LAMBERT, SR. / RICHARD AND KENNETH SAUNOOKE / LAWRENCE SIMMONS / JEFFERSON ARNEACH / LEWIS HAMILTON HARDING / AGGIE LITTLEJOHN CASTORENA / STANDIND TURTLE / ELIZA J. MCDANIEL MATHIS

  • Custodian

    Cherokee Historical Association

  • Dedication Date

    June 24, 1951

  • Decade

    1950s

  • Geographic Coordinates

    35.484220 , -83.315500 View in Geobrowsemap pin

  • Supporting Sources

      "Near Capacity Crowd of 2700 Sees Opening of 1951 Cherokee Drama," The Sylva Herald (Sylva, NC), June 28, 2014

      Anderson, William L. and Wetmore, Ruth Y. Cherokee, Part V: The Trail of Tears and the Creation of the Eastern Band of Cherokees, NCpedia.org, (accessed April 16, 2016) Link

      Blue Ridge National Heritage Area. “Unto These Hills Outdoor Drama,” (accessed November 21, 2014) Link

      Culp, Virginia. “Cherokee commemorates 50th anniversary of eternal flame”, The Sylva Herald (Sylva, NC), July 5, 2001, (accessed November 2014) Link

      Garza, Amy Ammons. "Stories of mountain folk broadcast: 2012-08-04." In her story “The Eternal Flame,” Amy connects the flames of the Olympic torch to the eternal flame of the Cherokee Indians (located outside the Mountainside Theatre) and the eternal flame within those who carry the stories of generations past, (accessed November 21, 2014) Link

  • Public Site

    Yes

  • Materials & Techniques

    Marble, Copper, Glass

  • Sponsors

    Cherokee Historical Association

  • Monument Dedication and Unveiling

    The monument was dedicated in 1951, on the first night of the second season of the outdoor drama Unto These Hills. At the dedication, a torch was lit backstage and handed to Eastern Band Chief Henry Bradley. He and Henry Buchanan, a white businessman who was a leader of the Cherokee Historical Association, lit the Eternal Flame.

  • Subject Notes

    The historical drama Unto These Hills, the second longest running outdoor drama in the United States, portrays the arrival of Spanish explorer Hernando DeSoto in 1540, the participation of the Cherokee in the Battle of Horsehoe Bend, and the removal of the Cherokee from their ancestral lands on the Trail of Tears in 1838. Unto These Hills honors some of the most revered Cherokee heroes, including Sequoyah, creator of the Cherokee alphabet, Junaluska, the wise leader, and Tsali, the brave chief who gave his life for his people. It was created by the Cherokee Historical Association, a group made up mostly of non-Indian business and civic leaders who wanted to promote tourism in western North Carolina. Written by Kermit Hunter, the drama was, for many years, one of the most popular tourist attractions in western North Carolina. A revised version of the play is still performed each summer in Cherokee. Performances begin at 8:30 p.m. every night except Sundays during the summer.

    The Eternal Flame was meant to memorialize Cherokees who lost their lives during removal and to symbolize friendship between Cherokees and non-Indians.

    According to the Cherokee Historical Association, representatives of the Eastern Band of Cherokees brought the fire used to light the Eternal Flame from a Cherokee ceremonial ground in eastern Oklahoma. The fire was given to them by the Cherokee religious leader Stokes Smith. The fire, as a symbol, reversed the Trail of Tears and returned to the Cherokees original homeland.

  • Location

    The monument sits at the entrance to the Mountainside Theater. The front faces the road so people entering can see it, and behind it is the amphitheater seating.

  • Landscape

    The Eternal Flame memorial is located on a flat concrete surface.

  • Post Dedication Use

    Ed Henson, left, and Chief Leon Jones rededicated the Eternal Flame June 29, 2001 at Mountainside Theater in Cherokee to commemorate the 50th anniversary of eternal flame.

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