Long before European colonists first began to attempt hunting and farming in the foothills and escarpment of South Carolina's Blue Ridge Mountains, thriving towns and villages dotted this rolling land of rivers, waterfalls and rocky outcroppings. Communities of Cherokee Indians made this beautiful place their home.
Known as the "Lower Towns," because other Cherokee towns were located at a higher altitude in the Southern Appalachian Mountains, more than two dozen villages were scattered all over the northwest corner of South Carolina.
The Lower Towns were thriving communities for centuries. Today, archaeologists have found hundreds of pieces of pottery and other artifacts in the sites of these former villages.
When early colonists reached this rugged part of South Carolina, they traded with the local villagers. In fact, trade with the Cherokee became a vital part of colonial South Carolina's early economic development.
Over time, European settlers pushed further and further into Cherokee territory. The Cherokee ceded huge swaths of land to the colonists over a series of treaties, but the settlers continued to move into the Cherokee's homeland.
Artifacts and Exhibits
The museum's exhibits tell the remarkable story of the Lower Town Cherokee and one of its main assets is the storytellers themselves. The people who work and volunteer at the museum are incredibly knowledgeable and passionate about this crucial part of our state's heritage.
Today, the museum houses an impressive array of historically significant donated items as well as an entire collection from Keowee-Toxaway State Park, which once housed its own exhibit. These Cherokee artifacts, owned by the state, are on permanent loan to the museum.