Water flows, springtime and mossy boulders mark this Smokies event. Part of the Field Photography Program, we find ourselves at the Oconaluftee River.  Workshop participant Chuck Dayton adjustes his focus up river, adjusting a small aperture setting for that coveted silky look of flowing water…

Early History


The Oconaluftee bottomlands, with Rattlesnake Mountain rising in the distance.

The Cherokee considered the waters of the Oconaluftee sacred. Dora Woodruff Cope, who lived in the Oconaluftee valley near Smokemont around 1900, recalled a legend her Cherokee neighbors told her: ...part of the river was called Ya'nu-u'nata wasti'yi, "Where the bears wash." It was a deeper part of the river, where all the animals came to wash and heal their wounds when they had been hurt by hunters. No white person had ever seen this place because evil had blinded us to its existence. The animals knew how to find it, and diving into it meant instant healing.


The term "Oconaluftee" comes from the Cherokee term egwanulti, which means "by the river," and appears in the journals of John Bartram in 1775.[6] Where along the river this village was located is unknown, although anthropologist James Mooney believed it to be situated near modern Birdtown, between Cherokee and Bryson City. Archaeological evidence, however, has identified a Cherokee settlement along the Oconaluftee north of the Qualla Boundary, just inside the present-day national park. While the Cherokee roamed the Smokies far and wide, this is the only known permanent Cherokee settlement within the park boundaries.


This village was probably destroyed in 1776 by the army of General Griffith Rutherford during the American Revolution.

* source in part,  Wikipedia