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Cherokee Heritage Center to open new exhibit

Courtesy Cherokee Heritage Center

TAHLEQUAH, Oklahoma — The new re-created Diligwa Ancient Village at the Cherokee Heritage Center is scheduled to have its grand opening on June 3.

The four-acre outdoor living exhibit, which replaces and updates the 45-year-old Tsalagi Ancient Village, the oldest attraction at the heritage center, will provide visitors the chance to experience Cherokee life in the early 18th century and will feature 18 structures, 14 interpretive stations and a detailed historic landscape.

The new name, Diligwa, is a derivative of Tellico, a village in the East that was once the principal Cherokee town prior to the tribe’s removal to Oklahoma. The site of Tellico in east Tennessee is now underwater.

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 overall village includes eight residential sites each with a Cherokee summer house, winter house, corn crib and kitchen garden.

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 village will be anchored with native Cherokee foliage and flora with a recirculating stream flowing across its eastern area.