Unto These Hills, By Kermit Hunter
You can feel a slight chill run up your spine; but not from the mountain winds shifting their direction in anticipation of the coming dusk. It is from your anticipation of the coming drama. Unto These Hills drama is the tragic and triumphant story of the Cherokee that traces back to the years before the heartbreak of the Trail of Tears to the present day. Millions of people have witnessed America’s most powerful drama, which rewrites the Cherokee’s place in the world. A place based on traditional Cherokee values and modern sensibilities.
The play opens with the arrival of the Spanish Conquistador, Hernando DeSoto in 1540. The appearance of DeSoto and his army establishes an ominous portent of what will befall the Cherokee Nation during the next three-hundred years. Early on the famous Cherokee leader, Yonaguska deliberates the fate of all Native peoples, and yet charts a peaceful course with his white neighbors and the American government. He even joins forces with Andrew Jackson at the famous Battle of Horseshoe Bend where another famous Cherokee leader, Junaluska saves Jackson’s life. Despite this, Jackson will later develop policies as President that usurp previous promises of Cherokee sovereignty and deliberately charts a course for the removal of the Cherokee from their traditional homelands. The discovery of gold in Cherokee County in 1835 sets the stage for tribal lands to be overrun by the whites, who illegally occupy lands, build settlements and town, and generally disregard the cultural practices and freedoms of the Native population. Also during this time, unscrupulous land agents descend upon area, carrying out the Manifest Destiny ideology, as well as creating deep divisions among the Cherokee people. It is at this point where the heartbreaking story of Tsali and his family begins to unfold. His unrelenting mistrust of the United States Government, along with his intense love of his people and their traditional ways, gives rise to an inevitable – and ultimately deadly - clash between him and the over-powering forces of the United States Army. Tsali’s resistance to removal leads to the untimely death of his beloved wife, Wilani, as well as him and his sons near the end of the play. They sacrifice themselves so that a small group of Cherokee will be able to remain in their homeland. But sadly, shortly following the men’s execution, the infamous Trail of Tears begins. Despite this dark and tragic episode in the lives of the Cherokee, the ending of the play is filled with beautifully sculpted imagery and effective emotional symmetry, symbolizing the re-emergence of a people whose spiritual fortitude, social complexities, and human courage will never be broken.
Frequently Asked Questions
General Information for All Ticket Holders
(VIP Ticket Holders will see special information below)
- Where?: Mountainside Theater is located at 688 Drama Rd in Cherokee, NC. Upon your arrival in Cherokee, please locate our theater (not to be mistaken for the local fairgrounds amphitheater in Downtown Cherokee. Tip: Our Theater is tucked away towards the end of Drama Rd. You will see a large, maroon and gold sign with our show name, Unto These Hills). Dinner ticket holders will meet at the theater at 6:30pm. Parking is free
- When?: Doors open at 7:00 PM. Preshow entertainment at 7:30. The Main Show Begins at 8:00 PM. Dinner Ticket holders are allowed entry at 6:30.
- What Should I Bring?: Some mountain nights are cool, you may want to bring a light jacket, rain coat/poncho just in case. Once inside you'll find our concession stand, souvenir kiosk and some nights we have local artists selling their handmade wares under our shelter. Pets, Outside food and drink are not allowed except in cases of medical reasons. Dogs must be certified service animals. Don't forget to bring your tickets or pick them up at our Will Call window located by the theater's entrance. Will Call tickets are available beginning at 4PM.
- Why go on if it is raining?: The majority of our patrons travel great distances to see our show and often only have a limited window of time in which they can attend. Unto These Hills is operated by Cherokee Historical Association, a non-profit organization that exists to preserve and perpetuate Cherokee Culture and History. Every chance we get to perform the show, we will do so, it is our misson to share the story of the Cherokee despite the weather. The story of the Cherokee and the Trail of Tears is incredibly important to our organization. Our show performs not only to entertain but to also educate audiences about an often overlooked historic tragedy. Cherokee Historical Association depends greatly on the patronage of our ticket buyers in order to present our show every season.
- How do I get a Refund or Rain Check? Ticket Sales are final, however if we experience ongoing lightning that is not expected to pass within a reasonable amount of time, the theater may decide to cancel the show for everyone's safety.
- Rain Checks: Ultimately, we want you to see our show so we are always willing to issue a Rain Check (valid for 2 years after issue date) if you feel that the weather is not ideal for you or your family. To request a rain check, please contact our box office either 24-48 hours before the performance, or within one day (not including Sundays) after the show at 828-497-2111: Best hours to reach us are Mon-Sat 10AM until 4PM.
- Refunds: Patrons are elligible for Refunds of their show ticket cost (less $3.00) when theater staff cancels the show before intermission is reached. We do not issue refunds based on patron requests except in cases of extreme emergencies. Ticket sales are final. If the Theater cancels the show before intermission, you may request a refund by calling 828-497-2111 (Mon-Sat 10AM - 4PM) within one week of the cancellation. Refunds are not able to be processed automatically as credit card processing takes several business days and cash refunds are issued in the form of a mailed check. If we do not recieve your refund request within one week's time, we will accept your ticket cost as a donation in effort to continue our programming. Refund requests are not valid in cases in which patrons decide to cancel their ticket reservations or in which patrons leave during a performance. The seating in our theater is not covered so that the open sky will contribute to the telling of our story. We offer a rain shelter at the top of house in case patrons need to seek shelter during rain holds or sudden unexpected weather. Please know that we do NOT cancel for rain, only for cases of ongoing lightning.
- May I take photos? Yes! Please be sure that the flash is off on your camera before taking any photographs.
- What Else is There to Do in Cherokee? Make time to visit the Oconaluftee Indian Village While you're in town! The Village is located right next door to the theater and offers an unique and interactive glimpse into Cherokee life during the 18th Century. Once inside the Village, you'll see live demonstrations of traditional crafts, replicas of Cherokee homes and community structures and you may even catch our dance show or Time of War re-enactment series. The Village is open Mondays - Saturdays from 9:30am until 4:00pm. Tours begin at the Village every 15 minutes with the last tour of the day beginning promptly at 4:00. For more information or to buy tickets, visit the link near the bottom of the page or call 828-497-2111.
- What's Included with my VIP Ticket? You'll receive a backstage tour* given by a cast member (your choice of a 7:00pm or Post Show Tour). You will also receive a Souvenir Tote Bag, Souvenir Cup, Souvenir Program Book, Popcorn and Bottled Water. Your Souvenir Items are available for pick up beginning at 6:30pm. Please present your VIP ticket to the theater staff upon your arrival.
*Backstage Tours may be cancelled due to weather and are not recommended for patrons with walking or mobility issues.