The attractions are the Museum of the Cherokee Indian, Qualla Arts and Crafts, and Cherokee Historical Association, which presents the “Unto these Hills” outdoor drama and Oconaluftee Indian Village. A second grant totaling $585,000 will enable the Museum of the Cherokee Indian to create a new education and research center and to expand the annual Southeastern Tribes Gathering it coordinates. The new center will give heritage visitors hands-on historical and cultural classes, workshops and demonstrations.
Overall, the Cherokee Preservation Foundation awarded 26 new cultural preservation, economic development and environmental preservation grants valued at $2.19 million.
Since 2002, the Foundation has provided financial support totaling $8.8 million to the three cultural attractions, enabling collaboration on a successful advertising campaign; complete revamping of the Unto These Hills drama; new events such as the Southeastern Tribes Gathering and Festival of Native Peoples, expansion of Museum facilities and exhibits; community outreach efforts at Qualla Arts & Crafts that are building a new generation of Cherokee artists; and development of business plans at each of the three organizations to ensure their long-term self-sustainability.
During the summer of 2006, attendance and sales have been up dramatically at each of the Big Three cultural attractions. Revenue from ticket sales from “Unto These Hills” was up 17 percent compared to the 2005 season, Museum ticket sales increased 16 percent and sales at Qualla Arts & Crafts rose nearly 10 percent.
The Foundation also awarded a $125,000 grant to Cherokee Bottled Water to enable the EBCI enterprise to purchase equipment to bottle water locally. Currently water is shipped to an out of state manufacturing facility. The grant will enable Cherokee Bottled Water to create more local jobs and build another source of income for the EBCI.
A $100,000 grant will enable the advancement of programs to revitalize the Cherokee language that have been created by the EBCI and Western Carolina University. Another language-related grant will make it possible for regional youth in the Voices in the Laurel choir to perform music in the Cherokee language in Sydney, Australia.
Cherokee Preservation Foundation was established in 200, as part of the Second Amendment to the Tribal-State Compact between the EBCI and the State of North Carolina. It is an independent nonprofit foundation funded by the EBCI from gaming revenues generated by the Tribe.