Wealthiest Tribe of Appalachia – Cherokee

Aug 12, 2023 2.6M Views 7.1K Comments

Today we travel to Cherokee in North Carolina to witness a tribe that’s doing extremely well financially. Kids graduate high school with hundreds of thousands of dollars set aside in an account, higher education and health care are paid for by the tribe, and their land is some of the most beautiful in America. Join me for this eye-opening experience!

► Video edited by: Natalia Santenello

MUSIC USED IN THE VIDEO 🎵
► Headlund – Heart’s Reprise
► Headlund – Return to No Man’s Land

♪ somber country ♪
[Peter] Good morning guys,
here in beautiful North Carolina
and today we’re going
out to the Cherokee Tribe.
From what I’ve been told, much different
than most other
Native reservations in this country.
For example, most young people
receive hundreds of thousands
of dollars in an account
to be deployed
when they turn 18 years old.
It’s out in the western part of the state.
Very beautiful from the pictures I’ve seen
and we have the great fortune
to meet up with a Cherokee local
who said he can show us around,
bring us in, and teach us
about what’s going on out there.
Let’s do this.
♪ somber country ♪
[Peter] We’re in the heart
of Cherokee right now?
[Dylan] Yes.
-This is unlike any other reservation,
’cause it’s not a reservation.
-It’s a boundary.
-So a Native boundary?
-Yeah.
So we are a sovereign nation
withinside the country.
-Like a lot of other nations are.
-Yeah.
-But here we own the land outright.
-Okay.
-William Holland Thomas
bought it back for us.
-How many acres?
-56,000 square acres.
-When comparing to reservations,
Cherokee looks different
than anything I’ve seen.
-Oh, yeah.
If you’re enrolled with
the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians
you get a per capita from the casino.
Half of it goes to stuff like hospitals,
or our court system, or stuff like that.
And then the other half goes to
the enrolled members of the tribe.
-Every year?
-Six months.
So it comes in June
and it comes in December.
-Then how much do you have
when you’re 18 years old?
-It depends, right now
we could be making a lot of profit,
and then next month
we won’t make that much.
But say, my daughter, when she turns 18,
it was just steadily profit,
she’ll have more than
when they didn’t make profit.
-What do you think that number is roughly?
-[tsk]
-I say well over $500,000.
-Wow.
-But it’s stipened-up.
‘Cause at 18, you don’t want
to be giving a kid $500,000
to do whatever they want.
They’re gonna go right through it.
At 18 they get 25% of it,
and then 21, 25% of it.
-I think it’s 23 or 25,
the rest of it, you get it.
-Okay.
-At 25 I didn’t know what I was doing.
You know what I mean?
[Peter] You said you just got back
from a 24 hour sweat.
-Yeah, you don’t sweat
the whole time though.
-It was a ceremony?
-Yeah, it’s rough.
I have yet to come down from it.
-Okay, well thanks for coming out today.
-Of course, man.
I love showing people about my people.
-How much sleep
have you gotten in the last 48 hours?
-Dude, you were like,
“Hey, I got lost.”
I was like, “Thank God,
I can take another 30 minute nap.”
-[Peter] It’s so clean here.
-[Dylan] Yeah.
-It’s so well taken care of.
-That’s the tribe getting casino money.
Helps with stuff like this.
-Right.
-They pay for the mowing,
and the workers, and everything.
-This is like
the Bellview of Native areas.
-Exactly, yeah.
-I take it for granted.
-You take it for granted?
-At least you’re aware of that.
-Exactly, yeah. I took a girlfriend
at the time, with me to Oklahoma
and she started crying.
I was like, “What’s wrong?”.
She goes,
“I didn’t know what I had back home.”
-Oh yeah.
-Yeah, of course.
I don’t have any blood here except for
my daughter, my siblings, and my father.
-I’d tell you about your dad but I can’t.
-[all laughing]
-I don’t want to get him in trouble.
-John John, you’ve traveled a lot
around the US?
-US, Canada, Europe.
-So how do you feel
when you come back to Cherokee?
-You can take the boy
out of the mountains
but you can’t take
the mountains out of the boy.
-This is your home?
-Yeah, it’s always home.
-I’ve just been practicing the language.
[Peter trying to read Cherokee]
-No. [laughs]
-No? How does it sound?
-Da ya da wa da he do ha.
That says I am visiting you.
But actually you visiting me would be,
squaw da wa du, he do ha.
You are visiting me.
-How many Cherokee speakers
exist out here?
-Less than 150.
-That’s it right now?
-Mm-hmm.
-You guys are really holding onto it?
-Mm-hmm.
-You’re trying to bring it back?
-Darn right.
-So are the kids learning?
-Uh…
I’m teaching my coworkers,
the ones that want to learn.
-Okay.
-Even ones that said they didn’t want
to learn are learning.
-Because they’re around it.
-Yeah.
-They hear me telling the other ones.
-What’s driving you
to learn the language and bring it back?
-It’s us.
If we don’t have our language,
who would we be?
A language is what defines a people.
And if we can’t speak our language
then can we really
call ourselves Cherokee?
We just turn into Americans.
I mean…
-Did your parents teach you the language?
-No, not really.
-Okay.
-They were actually
kind of against it for a little bit
because
the things that my grandparents
had to go through because they spoke it.
While my dad was alive,
he made mention of one time
when I asked him why he didn’t know it,
why he couldn’t teach me.
-Sure.
-He said he didn’t want to get locked
in a closet, get beat on for speaking.
-Right.
-So… I told him, I said,
“Dad, ain’t nobody
gonna do that to you know.”
[laughs heartily]
-So Dylan, you work here?
-I work here, yeah.
I’ve worked here 13 years.
See you, John, John.
[John John greeting]
-My grandparents own this.
-They own BJ’s?
-Yeah, best burgers in town.
I’m not joking,
you can ask anybody else in town.
I’m biased to say it
’cause my grandparents own it,
my brother works there.
When you see big corporations
that come in here like that Super 8…
-Okay.
That company has to
lease that land from the family.
Whoever owns that land,
they have to lease it from that family.
So you do have different classes here.
You do have your wealthy,
and your middle class,
and then you have your poor.
-So by default, everyone that is Cherokee
or born here doesn’t get land for free?
-No.
-It’s through family?
-Exactly.
-Do you pay taxes on the land?
-No.
-This is not BIA?
-No.
-Bureau of Indian Affairs?
-No.
-So there’s no BIA hospitals or anything?
-No, strictly Cherokee hospital.
-That’s paid for by the tribe?
-Exactly.
-What about education?
-College is paid for
as long as you make good grades.
They actually pay you to go to college.
-They pay you to go to college?
-Yeah.
-So any college or state college?
Yeah, you can study abroad if you want to.
-You can go to Harvard
if you get in, and they’ll pay for it?
-Yeah.
-Wow.
Basically you’re daughter
is coming out of high school
with a half million dollars–
-To do whatever she wants, I told her–
-She can go to any college–
-Yeah, and I told her, I was like,
“You’re not going to college
for two years after you graduate.”
She was like, “Why?”
I was like, “‘Cause you’re traveling.”
We have the money,
you won’t have any regrets.
-Right.
-Not going to school,
school’s always gonna be there.
You have the money.
As an 18 year old, if I had that money
I would want to go
learn about the world first.
-Yeah.
-And then worry about my studies.
If she needs to.
‘Cause when she turns 18, she’s 13 now,
what if she doesn’t need to get a job?
What if those six month per caps
keep her afloat?
-Right, okay so once she’s 18–
-She’ll continue
getting that every six months.
-But basically her amount
is up to a half million?
-Yeah, because–
-And then for the end of time,
she’ll still get a per cap?
-It’s like the dividend
in Alaska but way better?
-Exactly, yeah.
-Oh, wow.
So in the tribal world, monetarily,
you guys are very successful.
You’re living well?
Oh yeah, there’s no complaints.
But see, I don’t get that per cap.
-Why?
-‘Cause I’m enrolled
with Cherokees in Oklahoma.
-Oh.
-You have to be Eastern Band here.
-So there are three bands of Cherokees?
-Yeah.
Eastern band, what are the other two?
United Keetoowah Band,
and the Cherokee Nation.
Cherokee Nation and United Keetoowah Band
are located in Tahlequah, Oklahoma.
-Okay.
So you got CBD,
Native Cloud, that’s a nice name for it.
-We actually are about about to start
selling marijuana here on the boundary.
-Okay.
-There’s a few hiccups we have to settle.
We want to do everything by the book
so we don’t get in trouble or anything.
-So how does it make you feel?
You’re not Eastern Band,
does that bum you out a little bit
that you don’t get those perks?
Sometimes because I don’t even want
the money, I want voting rights.
-You can’t vote here on the tribe? Okay.
-Huh-uh.
How many Eastern Band Natives are there?
-There’s about 20,000.
-20,000?
-Uh, yeah, close to that.
-This is… This is beautiful.
-Oh yeah.
-I’m so fired up being here, Dylan.
[both laughing]
-This is like–
-I love showing you around too.
It’s bringing me joy
that you’re enjoying this.
Enjoying our land, you know?
[slaps]
-This is sick.
-But keep on the road with filming,
and high fives, and sh*t.
-You know what’s cool about this,
this is my community.
-Okay.
-We’re very prideful
of where we come from.
My buddy, his name’s Dylan Morgan,
and he’s from Wolf Town.
And we talk a lot of crap to each other
because our communities
don’t like each other during stick ball.
-You have rivalry between communities?
-It’s one of the oldest ones.
We got swimming spots, man.
-Oh my God, this place is…
-My community is the best community.
Big Cove is the best.
-Okay, can an outsider like me,
white boy move in,
or that’s against the rules?
-My grandmother is from Illinois.
She married into our family.
-So you have to marry in?
-You don’t have to but like, um…
-But an outsider,
I couldn’t buy a home here, right?
You could lease the land from the family.
-Lease the land?
-But you can’t own it.
-Own the home but lease the land?
-Yeah.
-Okay.
-So you got tubing mostly for tourists?
-Yeah.
-So the casinos the big
revenue generator, and then tourism?
-Let me see the camera.
-Okay, take over.
-School’s here and I want to get a good…
-Yeah, sure.
-You’re the vlogger now.
-[Dylan laughs]
Me and my brother
used to make YouTube videos.
All right, let it rip, what’s going on?
-So this is our central schools,
you have Pre-K, Kindergarten,
all the way to twelfth grade, seniors.
-It’s massive, it’s beautiful.
-Yeah, it is.
-Where am I, Dylan?
-[laughing] Exactly, yeah.
-So that doesn’t even look like a school,
it looks like
a condo development or something
-Yeah.
-So this is casino money that’s pumping–
-It funds everything.
-The casino funds everything?
-Everything.
-Roughly 20,000 people,
that casino is funding
this whole infrastructure for them?
-Mm-hmm.
But with the good, there comes the bad.
Drugs.
It gives money to those people and,
you know, it feeds them drugs.
-Okay, so–
-Feeds their drug habit I should say.
[Peter] Okay, so drugs, someone doesn’t
have their mind in the right direction,
they get on drugs easily
because the money’s there
and you can buy whatever?
-Yeah.
Now we can’t step onto the field
simply because it’s medicined
and I don’t want to disrespect Big cove.
-Okay, it’s medicined,
what do you mean by that?
-So we go through a lot of medicine stuff.
-When we play stick ball.
-Okay.
I thought I saw something
go through the woods over there.
-So you have picnic tables under there.
-Yeah, exactly.
The big time for stick ball
is the first week in October.
That’s like our playoffs.
-That’s our championship, our world cup.
-Okay.
-That first week in October,
me and my buddy Dylan Morgan,
I was telling you about,
we won’t talk to each other.
He’s my best friend,
I was raised with this kid.
I love that kid.
-So it’s just all out war?
-Yeah.
I will beat the sh*t out of that kid.
-[Peter laughs]
-Yeah.
-Physically, you’ll beat the sh*t,
then the week after, you’re good?
-Yeah, he’s having a beer
at my house watching football.
-Were you a warrior people
like the Apache?
-We played the intimidation game.
So there’s documentation
showing if the Creeks came up here
or we went down there for war,
they showed up with 500 warriors,
we showed up with 1,500.
And so we could fight…
none of you are going home,
or we could sit down and talk this out,
and they’d be like,
“Okay, yeah, let’s talk this out.”
-So you’d use intimidation,
out-man people, and then…
-Mm-hmm.
-Use the leverage that way?
-We covered eight states at one point.
-Eight?
-Eight states.
-No, no, I mean before first contact.
-The original? Okay.
-Yeah.
-So all this Appalachian territory, right?
-Yeah, yeah.
♪ somber country ♪
[Peter] Tourists from all over
the country, world, who’s coming here?
-Everybody, I have a lot of Europeans,
a lot of overseas people.
Some people live here year-round.
[music continues]
[Peter] When it comes to roads,
things like that,
federal government, state government,
tribal government, who’s paying for it?
[Dylan] Tribal, the government
has nothing to do with us.
The state doesn’t either,
we don’t have sales tax.
We have Tribal levy,
it goes to the tribe instead of the state.
So if I was to buy a car off the boundary
but I’m using it
for my home on the boundary,
I show my Cherokee card
and I get the taxes taken off.
That used to be our swimming spot
but I want you to film this over here.
I didn’t grow up with these homes here.
-Okay, these are new.
-Those are new homes.
This is a housing project,
I lived in the house in the back-right.
-That one? Okay.
-Yeah.
-Was that paid for by the tribe?
-Tribal housing, yeah.
You have two different sides
of Big Cove in our community.
A lot of it is beautiful
but you do have stuff like this.
People can make it out
it’s just some people have bad luck.
-But everyone gets
the same things from the tribe?
-Yeah, mm-hmm.
-So it’s up to them
what they want to do with that?
[Peter] Guys, this is one of
the most beautiful parts of the country.
-Dylan, I’m gonna say that straight up.
-Yeah, I love it here.
I’ve seen a lot of the US,
this is really a special part.
[water flowing]
This water is super clean, yeah?
-Oh, yeah.
-Like… there’s no farm runoff above
or anything like that?
Pretty cold.
You were saying,
polygamy was a thing
in the culture back when?
-I’d say before first contact.
-Cherokee culture,
the women sort of ran the show, right?
-Of course,
and they still do run the show.
-Which means what, the finances?
-The household, everything.
Whatever they say, it goes.
You have to listen to what they say,
if you don’t you’re gonna be in trouble.
I was raised by women.
I had three men in my life,
my two grandpas and my dad.
-You don’t like this?
-No, it disrupts the fish habitat.
This river’s been here forever
and no one’s stacked rocks like that,
so why are they doing it now?
Our fish are sacred to us.
So why are they trying to ruin stuff?
I don’t know specific studies
but they say not to do that.
-Do you fish?
I used to but it’s like living
at the beach and going to the beach.
Now for me,
I just have to show my card to fish.
-You would have to get a license.
-Yeah, okay.
-A fishing license.
-So how do you guys feel about
outsiders coming in to the boundary?
-We don’t mind it at all.
It’s not been a problem for us at all.
I mean they’ve helped us.
Now were are allowed to ban people.
So if they come in with bad intentions
then we can ban them from our tribe.
-Okay, so if you get a group
that’s obnoxious at a campsite
causing problems, you can oust ’em?
-Yeah that, or we’re gonna
give ’em a couple chances.
-You know?
-Yep.
-We’re not just gonna kick ’em outright.
They have to break some laws
before we can do that.
How many guys are there like you out here
that are Cherokee
but not from the Eastern Band,
so they don’t get
the money from the casinos?
-So there is a lot of families.
We do have a lot of
Choctaws and Creeks too.
2023, I wanna say there’s less than
30 families that
came back from the removal.
So I’m second generation to come back.
My father is the first.
Yeah, and it stops with me.
-Okay, so explain the removal
to those that don’t know.
-The removal is the Trail of Tears
that sent us all the way to Oklahoma.
They found gold in Georgia
and so they wanted to take our land.
-The US Army?
-Mm-hmm.
We didn’t like
America to begin with
’cause we were fighting for the South.
We fought for the South here.
-You fought with the Confederates?
-Yeah, we did.
-So you joined forces in the Civil War?
-Mm-hmm.
But we had to, it’s like we were forced to
or else they were gonna kill us.
They already wiped the majority of us out.
What makes you think
they couldn’t do it again?
-But you guys had slaves.
Indian slaves, black slaves, white slaves?
-We didn’t care what color you were.
We put you to work, yeah.
-It’s like a prisoner of war.
-If you were captured, you were a slave?
-See, that’s the thing too,
we were known as a principle people,
and during war times if I shot you
in the leg with an arrow,
and you didn’t die,
you’re my responsibility.
-Okay.
-I took you home and made sure
you’re well, your leg was healed,
and then
I’d take you back to your tribe.
-But sometimes you’d put ’em to work?
-Mm-hmm.
If they mouthed off, you know…
Tried to escape or tried to kill us,
we’re putting you to work, yeah.
[Dylan] I asked an elder where Sully
was buried, and he told me this location.
-Who’s Sully?
-Sully sacrificed himself
for us to stay here.
There was less than 1,200
that was able to hide out here
and fight against the removal.
And so he… yeah, sacrificed himself
’cause he had killed I think two
soldiers that were kicking people
out of their home
and sending them on the Trail of Tears.
-1,200 stayed here?
-Mm-hmm.
-How’d you retain your land rights?
-This white gentleman
was raised by a Cherokee chief.
-Let these people by.
-Sure.
-And he later became a lawyer.
And his wife pushed, and pushed,
and pushed for him to get our land back.
So he gathered up all the money
that we could, and he went to Raleigh,
bought the land in his name,
came back, and signed it over to us.
-Wow.
-So if my family gave him,
say, 300 bucks for land.
We got 300 bucks worth of land.
We would have to go see him,
“Hey ‘member we payed for this?”
“Yeah, here’s your deed to your land.”
-The deed?
-Yeah.
-So this white guy, his name is what?
-William Holland Thomas.
-He bought the 55,000 square acres?
-Yeah.
-And then deeded it out to you guys?
-I guess in a sense, but back then
it was, you know, a piece of paper.
-Set up your house here type of stuff?
-Yeah, there’s your land,
stake it out.
-So that’s very unique then
for Natives in the country.
-Yeah, yeah.
-So the BIA does not own this.
-No.
-Which the BIA is basically
an arm of the federal government.
-Don’t like ’em.
-The only time we use them is for zoning.
-Okay.
And… what is that called when you go and
determine where your land is?
-Surveying.
-Surveying.
Yeah, we use them for that.
-The BIA?
-Yeah, that’s about the only thing.
-So is it fair to say the BIA
is an arm of the federal government?
-Yeah, yeah.
-In a way it’s federal land
where the reservations are.
-Yeah, because each reservation
or each Tribal land
has to have a BIA building in it.
-Then you have your own
Tribal government, right?
-Yeah.
-And our own judicial court.
-Your own judicial court?
-Mm-hmm.
-Very cool.
So if there’s a crime that happens here…
-You have to deal with
our Tribal court system.
-Your father,
he’s a policeman here, right?
-Yeah, he’s an investigator.
-Investigator, okay.
-And he’s over sex offenders.
-Is there a lot of that here?
-A lot, huh?
-Yeah.
But… it’s a small community
so we all know each other.
-Okay.
-It’s like,
“Don’t be around that guy or that woman.”
-So on a lot of reservations
there have been kidnappings,
especially young women.
Is that the story here too?
-No, but we do get a lot of
murdered Indigenous women.
-Here?
-In a population of 22,000?
-Mm-hmm.
-Okay, why is that do you think?
-Domestic violence.
-Drugs, alcohol.
-Okay… Yeah.
-Number of things… a lot of things.
Some people are mentally ill.
-Right.
-Some come back from war, PTSD…
-Sure.
-Think they’re getting bombed.
Domestic violence is…
it happens but you don’t hear about it.
-Okay.
-I think women here
are scared to talk about it.
-Why is that?
-I have no idea.
-Scared of the repercussions?
-Yeah.
[waterfall flowing]
[Dylan] So there’s a cave on top
that Sully’s supposed to be buried at.
I tried to go up there,
the further you get back to the cave,
the more dense it gets.
It was daylight like this.
I got so far back there I couldn’t see
my hand in front of my face.
We would come around this,
me and my siblings,
we would do medicine right here.
You’re saying a prayer to our creator
you don’t ask anything from our creator.
You have everything on earth,
why do you need anything else?
That’s a sign of greed.
As a Cherokee, you get in a situation,
you got yourself in that situation,
get yourself out.
-No one else is gonna do it for you.
-Yep.
-That was a big turnoff
for me with religion.
I felt like God was a scapegoat.
If I had a problem I would pray,
hope something would change.
-Right.
-But I had to make that change.
-I didn’t realize that until I started
believing more in my Cherokee traditions.
Okay, this person
got in this situation, he got himself out.
Or this woman got in a situation,
she got herself out.
-And you just did
a ceremony for what, 24 hours?
-Mm-hmm, well yeah,
it stems over 24 hours.
-It’s a healing ceremony?
-Um, more of not moving on,
but they are moving on ceremony.
-Saying our final goodbyes I should say.
-Okay.
-Someone passed?
-Mm-hmm.
-I’m sorry, man.
-No, you’re good.
-Happens all the time,
I’ve lost quite a few people.
I don’t know, I hate saying that because
I hate being desensitized with death.
-Okay.
-I should feel some type of way.
-Do you? You don’t?
-No, I’ve lost too many people.
-How have you lost too many people?
-Um, I lost my mom to drugs.
-Okay.
I’ve lost quite a few friends to drugs.
-Okay.
Depression, car accidents.
Just stuff here and there.
-All walks of life.
-Yeah.
Ironically, you know what I mean?
So, yeah…
But it never…
My mom’s didn’t hit hard either
which I found really strange.
-Yeah.
-I called my therapist ’cause I was like,
“What’s going on? I should be upset.”
He goes,
“You should be, let’s talk about it.”
And then he found out
she wasn’t in my life that much.
-Okay.
She’s my mother,
don’t get me wrong, I love her to death
because without her I wouldn’t be here.
My father told me
not to ever talk bad about a woman.
I do slip up, I’ve had exes before
and it’s not worked out.
-All right, so cut me off wherever.
Because–
-Take a left out of here.
-Sometimes I gotta go
over the edge with my question.
-Nah, go for it, bro,
if you’re doing too much I’ll tell you.
-All right.
-I consider you a friend
to where I can be truthful
and be like,
“Hey man, that’s a bit too far.”
-Okay, this is how we learn.
-So there’s that man on the trail
and he said Cherokees
should get reparations.
-[scoffs] No.
-And I’m thinking…
Like, right? Your daughter’s coming
out of high school with a half million.
-Yeah.
-And a stipend for life.
-As long as the casino’s operating.
-Exactly.
-And there’s some
coal miner up in West Virginia
making 60 grand a year
and is supposed to pay for reparations.
-Yeah… Why?
-What are your thoughts on that?
-Why do we need reparations?
We’re doing just fine.
Once you get that reparations,
you’re gonna owe
whoever paid you reparations.
I don’t know,
it just doesn’t make any sense to me.
It didn’t happen to me,
it happened to my ancestors.
I am able to be here because of them.
That is my reparations.
I feel like I owe
my ancestors reparations.
Personally, like as a
descendant from Cherokees
on the Trail of Tears.
-I’m back home.
-Yeah.
-They sacrificed themselves
for me to be back here.
-Yeah.
-And I am here.
Now I feel like I owe them something
because of what they sacrificed.
-Right.
-Nothing is owed to me,
I owe something to them.
-Because your family was one of the ones
on the Trail of Tears to Oklahoma.
-Exactly.
-And thank God we’re in 2023–
-And my dad’s a full blood.
-And your dad’s a full blood.
-See what I’m saying?
And it’s 2023.
-And he can come back.
-And we came back.
I owe my ancestors something.
And maybe this is me
paying homage to them, I made it home.
-What about this video?
Does that pay any homage or no?
-No, because I still have to tell
my story, it needs to be told regardless.
But this does help,
it does bring some credibility to be like,
Okay, I’m letting people know
how it is here.
-Yeah
-What we go through.
We don’t go through a lot,
it’s not that hard here.
As you can tell, you’ve been to a lot
of places and this is not that bad here
compared to…
-No, this is beautiful.
I mean maybe I’m getting
the North Korean tour.
-Meaning you’re not showing the bad parts.
-[laughs]
That’s funny, bro.
-That could be one of the things,
but no, everything looks nice.
Your roads are perfect,
your river’s clean.
It looks amazing.
I just love the fact that,
you know,
I don’t know the politics here at all but
from what can be seen
in the little time I’ve been here,
the fact that the money’s
actually getting through to the people
from the casino is really cool.
I find that– Like it’s not
totally getting siphoned away.
It’s not like a coal mining company
coming in, extracting the place,
and all the money goes to New York City.
-Bro, it’s so upsetting too
when you get people
that find something to complain about.
It’s like, “Oh, our per cap
was $200 less than last year.”
It’s like, yeah,
but you still get 10 grand.
Like, what are you complaining about?
-Right.
-You shouldn’t be complaining.
-Do you worry
the per cap obviously has to do
with the casino’s revenues.
-Yeah.
-Say something happened to the casino.
Do you worry about that at all?
Because it’s sort of
a one horse pony as far as a business
that is funding everything?
-We have investments elsewhere.
-Oh, you do?
-Yeah.
-Like what?
-We just opened a Buc-ee’s
over in Sevierville,
and it’s the largest gas station
in the United States.
-It’s got 120 pumps.
-Whoa.
-Yeah, it’s huge.
-Where?
-Sevierville, it’s about
an hour away in Tennessee.
-So it’s owned by the Tribe?
-Mm-hmm.
-All the revenue comes back to you guys?
I don’t know how that works land wise.
I don’t know if that’s our land outright,
if the Tribe’s bought it.
You see what I’m saying?
I don’t know if that’s land
in trust with the government
that’s Tribally owned as well.
That could be reservation land.
I don’t know the details about that.
Um, from my understanding,
if we buy land back, that’s our land.
‘Cause we bought land
in Kentucky like I said,
we have land in Indiana,
if you can call it land.
I think it’s a boat casino.
-You have a boat casino?
-I do believe so, yeah.
Yeah, we just partnered up
with Sports Illustrated
to put up some
sports related things in Tennessee.
-Okay.
-And then we have a bunch of
investments too, like within stock.
-Okay, so you have a fund, a portfolio?
-Yeah, it’s called
a children’s fund if I’m not mistaken.
-Wow.
-Yeah.
-This is non-Cherokee land, this road?
-No, this is parkway land,
this is North Carolina land.
But look how beautiful this is, man.
-Oh, man.
Give it some love over there.
Look at that.
-During the evening time you’ll have
turkeys out here, elk.
And these elk get huge.
Like they will demolish your car.
-What is that?
-A war bag.
You keep your weapons in here
and stuff like that.
I keep my phone in here now, my toboggan.
-Times have changed.
-Yeah.
-This is an Appalachian farm.
Cherokees were the ones that taught
Appalachian people how to live.
-Oh.
How to do it up in the woods?
-Yeah, the only thing they brought
that was good was moonshine.
Other than that,
they didn’t bring anything to the table.
-So typical Appalachian house?
-Yeah.
From when, 1700s, 1800s?
-1800s.
We taught Appalachian people
how to live, how to build things,
how to survive, basically.
So I don’t agree with Appalachian living.
It was never Appalachian living,
it was always Cherokee living.
We came all the way from Georgia
all the way to Kentucky.
What is that? All Appalachia.
-What about West Virginia?
-Some of us would, very few families.
‘Cause you gotta keep in mind
we occupied eight states,
not everybody’s gonna
occupy all of those, all that land.
-So we were pretty spread out.
-Okay.
-That’s why you have
two dialects with the language too.
-But you weren’t living
in homes like this?
-You were?
-Mm-hmm.
-So…
At first there were clay houses
but we would insulate them with fur.
-Okay
-Just to keep ’em insulated.
-So you had
proper chimneys, windows, the full…
-No, that’s what they probably brung
but we did have some sort of chimney.
‘Cause we had–
-Yeah, sure.
So to be fair though, this is a fusion of
the white man’s construction style
and yours, right?
-Yeah.
-They probably brought the process here.
-Okay.
-But we taught them
the best products to use.
Like this wood is gonna
last you longer throughout the years.
It won’t mold, it won’t do this,
this is what you do to your wood
when you build it like this.
-You would cover it up with bear fat.
-Yeah.
-You know, so it would stay–
-Bear fat?
-Any kind of animal fat, animal lard.
-So this was it?
-Yeah.
-It still smells like bear fat in here.
-[chuckling] Yeah, it stinks.
-Part of me romanticizes
living in those times
and then about
five seconds later I’m like,
“Thank God I don’t live in those times.”
-But we don’t know that time, you know?
We’d probably enjoy it.
-‘Cause you wouldn’t know anything else.
-Exactly.
-Of course, that’s how it works.
-Yep.
-Sometimes I envy other tribes
in the world that don’t have contact.
-Yeah.
-‘Cause they don’t understand
what me and you understand.
-Sure.
-They don’t understand
what happened during 9/11.
We have to live with that
-Right, they’re completely in their own–
-Yeah.
-…people’s headspace,
they don’t have to worry,
take on any stress from the outside.
-Exactly, yeah.
-So the Seminoles in South Florida,
you said they’re getting
10 grand a month?
-Yeah, last time I checked
but that was a few years ago.
-Yeah.
-They just bought out
all of Hard Rock I believe.
The whole company.
[both laughing]
-They never surrendered,
they never signed a peace treaty.
-No, they never signed
a treaty with the US government.
-The cavalry was like,
“Screw it, we’re not gonna hang out
in swamps and defeat these people.”
-Exactly, yeah.
-So the Seminoles have kept full rights
but you guys are not far behind
in the sense that
you own this land outright.
-Exactly, yeah.
So we took steps
like they did I would say.
-Multiple casinos.
-Yep.
Buying stuff out
from other non-Indigenous people.
-Yeah.
-Making it Indigenous.
After that what else is there to do
besides keep on doing that?
-It’s buying land, and land, and land.
-Right.
-So you guys are expanding,
expanding right now?
-Yeah, mm-hmm.
[Peter] Gas station like this on Cherokee,
can an outsider own it
or no, not possible?
-No.
The family usually owns the land.
-Okay.
-[Dylan] Sup, man.
-[Peter] Hello.
[Man] Don’t record me, man.
-I won’t record you.
-[man laughing]
-[Peter] How you doing, man?
-[Man] Doing all right.
-Okay, so Dylan…
-Yeah.
-That’s a white guy.
-Uh-huh.
So he’s just an employee
of the owner who’s Cherokee?
-Yeah.
-Gotcha.
So no Indian gas stations out here?
-No.
-Not happening?
-No, usually if they’re Indian,
that Indian, they are…
-Sorry, Indian like Asian Indian.
-Yeah, exactly.
-I just…
-They’re usually… they’re ran by
those people but they’re not owning it.
-Okay.
-Yeah.
-Now you wanna be on-camera?
-Yeah.
I like your shirt, bro.
[Dylan] Where you from?
-I’m from Greenville.
-[Dylan] Okay.
-[Peter] So how is it out here?
-I’ve been here eight years.
It’s a lot better than where I came from.
[Peter] It’s better here
than where you came from?
-Yep.
I’ve married in to–
[Dylan] Who’d you marry?
-Heather Sexon.
-I know the Sexons,
I don’t know her though.
-[Peter] You guys can go ahead.
-[Woman] You’re fine.
We’re good, I’ll splash the card here.
So you married into it?
-Yeah.
-Is she enrolled?
-Yeah, she’s enrolled.
-So their kids will be if they have kids.
-Yeah.
-Got kids on the way?
-I got one.
[all laughing]
-Yeah, she’s three years old.
[Peter] Okay, more on the way?
-Nah, no more.
-One and done, huh?
-One and done.
I’ll be 36 when she graduates.
-God dang.
-Oh, good stuff.
-See ya, man.
-See ya.
-Okay, interesting, he married in.
-Yeah.
-So because she’s Eastern Band…
-Uh-huh.
-His kid’s gonna get the stipend?
-Yeah, exactly. That’s the way it works.
Now if she’s less than 1/16th,
that baby can’t be enrolled.
-How many full Cherokees are there?
-Not many, my dad’s one of the few.
-Really?
-Yeah, yeah.
-So we’re talking like hundreds?
-Yeah.
Not even that, I’m not gonna lie to you.
-Okay.
Sorry guys about the camera work,
I got Snickers, keys,
waters, moving this mic around.
But look, this is how
I get the real footage.
If I had a camera man we wouldn’t
have got a shot with that guy.
-Nah.
-He was pretty cool too.
-He was cool.
At first he was like, “No.”
and then he’s like, “Let’s do this.”
-But you know
we have that Southern humor too,
of like grinding you about something
and then making fun of that too.
-I love it.
-A lot of Natives have
dark humor I would say.
-I love the Native humor.
-Yeah.
All the reservations, they’re hilarious,
they give each other so much sh*t.
-Including me.
-Yes.
-They call me the Bahana,
I don’t know if that’s good,
on Hopi.
It means white man, I think it might
translate to white devil at times.
[both laughing]
They say it in a fun way,
like, all right, cool.
-Okay, that’s our humor,
if we make fun of you, we like you.
-Yeah, I love that.
-I love that too.
If we’re standoff-ish I don’t know you,
and I don’t want to know you.
-Exactly.
-It’s that big building up there.
-Yeah.
-That is our jail and our court.
-Jail and court?
-Yeah.
-Looks like we got some action there.
-I know, it’s like damn,
we’re right on time.
[Dylan giggles]
-So a lot of Cherokees look white.
Yeah or no?
-Um, somewhat.
The reason I have dark complexion
is ’cause of my Arapaho side.
-But like those cops down there–
-The majority are not Cherokee.
-Oh, okay.
-They’re hired to work here?
-Mm-hmm.
-Dylan, what’s that smell?
-That is the great smell of marijuana.
-Okay, so that’s
your guy’s own grow out there?
-Yeah, that’s our own Tribal grow.
-Wow, look at those plants up there.
-Yeah, it’s crazy.
Obama gave us the right
when he became president.
He gave every tribe
the right to sell and grow marijuana.
-Oh, wow.
So you guys are selling that off…
-Off the boundary?
-We can only sell it on the boundary.
-You’re selling it all on the boundary?
-Yeah.
-Wow, that’s a massive operation.
-Bro, you’re telling me.
-It’s expanding?
Look at that out there,
they’re pushing dirt out there.
-Yeah.
-Hear the fans down there?
-Yes, sir.
-Oh my God.
So this is for tourists coming in
buying this stuff, right?
-If they have a medical card.
The first six months of it
will be medicinal use only.
After that six months
it’s gonna be recreational.
-Whoa look at this.
-So this is a new thing then?
-Yeah.
This is fairly new, yeah.
It was a long process
we’ve been going through for a while.
-Right.
-It’s just… getting to it.
Getting to grow it.
-So in North Carolina can you do this?
-No, the state won’t let you.
It’s still illegal statewide.
It’s decriminalized,
but it’s still illegal.
-In North Carolina
you can’t have a casino?
-No… Well, it depends.
‘Cause the Catawbas,
they own a casino in Rock Hill.
-Catawbas, is that another–
-Yeah, another tribe.
-Look, are they gonna
expand all the way down here?
-Yeah, they’re expanding all this.
-So this weed operation
is going to be for people–
Obviously that would smoke out
the reservation pretty quickly.
So that’s gonna be
for sale for tourists, right?
-Eventually, yes.
-Or do you want to do medical grade stuff
for medicinal purposes?
-Like I said,
we were gonna sell six months
for medical enrolled members only.
-Okay.
-Then six months after that,
so a year into selling–
-Oh, I thought it kept going
but these are trailers.
-Nah, these are…
So we are no longer on
reservation land or Tribal land anymore.
-So it goes much poorer
right when you get off Tribal land?
-Yeah.
-That’s ironic, huh?
-That is… That is not the norm.
-No, it’s not.
-Okay, so this is right off the tribe.
-This is right off.
-Yeah, this is…
Dang, they’re recording too.
[Peter] I mean the river
doesn’t look as good out here.
-[Dylan laughs]
-What’s going on?
-The river’s very sacred back in Cherokee.
-Wow.
-Yeah, man.
-Oh my God, just when you think
you understand
something about the country.
-Yeah.
-I’ve been on a lot of reservations.
A lot of time in Native country.
And then you get this,
and you’re like, “What?”.
-It’s not what you expected.
-This is your land again?
-Yeah.
Okay, it’s nice again, so it’s your land.
[Dylan laughs]
I just heard what you said, that’s funny.
-Okay, so what I was asking in the car was
do people know what they have here?
Like that’s not normal
to come out of high school
with hundreds of thousands of dollars,
free healthcare, education.
-Nah.
When I took my girlfriend to Oklahoma
to visit my family out there–
-Yeah.
-We went to my cousin’s house
and she started crying her eyes out.
I was like, “Why are you crying?
Why are you upset?”
She goes, “Your cousin was laying there
with a needle in his arm.”
I was like, “Yeah.”
She goes, “You just pulled it out
and put covers on him.”
“Made sure he was on his side
so he didn’t die in his puke.”
It’s like, “Okay.”
She goes, “That doesn’t bother you?”
It’s like, “No, this is my home,
this is what I was raised on.”
“What… you didn’t see this?”
“No.”
Okay, well…
She was like, “I need to start taking
advantage of what I have back home.”
“‘Cause it’s a lot different out West.”
I was like, “Yeah.”
You guys take advantage
of what you got but I do too.
I do.
-At least you’re aware.
-Yeah, I’m very aware.
But you have to have that awareness
to sit back and be like, “Okay.”
Look at what I have… like look at this!
-Yeah.
-This is insane.
-You guys can grow everything.
-I am so lucky to be here.
-It’s beautiful.
-But I want other tribes
to know… you can make it.
You just have to have the steps to do it.
-They need the leadership,
and some of them are so corrupt.
-There is no chance.
-No.
And the corruption is so deep.
The money goes to the top.
That money goes
off the res into mansions and cars.
-But not into the people.
-So let me ask you this.
-Is it ’cause we’re so secluded?
‘Cause our neighboring tribe
is the Catawbas
and they’re three hours away.
-Yeah.
-So that’s why we’re so tight-knit here.
Is that why, you think?
-Well most tribes are really secluded.
-True.
-A lot of the ones in the West,
they’re really out there on their own.
-The reason I say that is
’cause my cousin came to visit
and he couldn’t stay
two weeks out here.
-Why?
-He’s like,
“You guys are the only Natives here.”
-He didn’t like that?
-He’s from Oklahoma.
That’s Indian territory to begin with.
so everybody’s got at least
something in them that’s Native.
This used to be a lot bigger.
From my understanding
and what I was taught
the reason we had mounds
is when you came back for a meeting
you would bring dirt from home in a pot.
-Okay.
-That’s why they’re finding
a lot of pottery inside mounds now.
-So that mound there.
-Uh-huh.
This is our mother town,
this is what I was taught.
Is we were made from the muds of Patua.
-The muds of right over here?
-Yeah.
-There’s two different origins stories,
now this other one, it’s kind of biblical.
-Okay.
-It’s Shalu Kinate.
-Yeah.
-So it’s like an Adam and Eve-type deal.
So I don’t believe in that one,
it came after first contact.
-There are two origin stories here?
Yeah, the one I believe in
is we were created by the muds of Patua.
-So that’s the Native spiritual one
and the other one is the religious one?
-Yeah.
-What percentage
believe what would you say?
-I can’t speak for the whole tribe
but for a majority part, Christianity.
-Okay.
-And different denominations too.
Baptists, you know?
Mormons were
a big thing here at one point.
I think they were
the first ones here to convert us.
And so that’s why you find a lot of
family Bibles with Cherokee names in them.
-Hmm.
-Because Mormons kept
a good genealogy with the family Bibles.
-Oh yeah, they’re really good at that.
-Exactly.
That’s what we tell people
if they want to find their ancestry
is go look at Mormons first.
If you have Mormons
in your family, go to that first
because they kept family Bibles.
So… yeah.
-They’re better than,
what is it, 21 and me?
-Yeah, and Ancestry.
-Yeah, the Mormons
are way better than Ancestry.com
-Exactly, man… yeah.
Boarding school, you were saying
about your grandmother?
-It differs between generations,
my grandma would get beat
for speaking Cherokee.
-Okay.
The more you go up West or up North
the more brutal it gets.
-North as in Appalachia?
-The country.
-Hmm.
-It could be Washington State,
their boarding schools are just as worse
or just as bad a Pennsylvania’s.
-The boarding schools
were your grandmother’s generation,
what about your parent’s generation?
-They were… there are still
boarding schools nowadays.
-But it’s different–
-It differs with generations.
‘Cause my dad, he loved boarding school.
-Okay
-My grandma hated it,
she would get beat for speaking Cherokee.
-Okay.
-Yeah.
-But your dad loved it, why?
-Because it was different.
It was an actual school experience.
He wasn’t being whitewashed.
-Like that had already taken place.
-Exactly.
-He grew up speaking English?
-Mm-hmm, yeah.
See, I’m very lucky
’cause my dad’s semi-fluent.
My grandma and uncle,
they talked it a lot.
-Yeah.
-But where my dad’s not around it a lot,
he kind of lost it.
-Your dad lost it?
-Yeah.
♪ somber country ♪
[Peter] This is your
equivalent of the projects?
-Yeah.
-This is free housing?
-This is Tribal housing, yeah.
-Okay, so they don’t have to pay for it
or it depends on income?
-It just depends, income-based.
-If you own a home here
can you rent your home?
-Mm-hmm.
There’s a lot of people
that have beautiful mountainside homes
and they’ll Airbnb it.
Because we have
such a destination, like the casino.
People want to come
to the casino but not stay at the hotel.
-So they’ll get that Airbnb.
-Yeah, okay.
-So it’s just like
another income for us, you know?
-You’re serious?
-Yeah, this is Old Number 4 Road.
-This is the worst it gets?
-I would say so.
Other people would say other places.
But it doesn’t get much worse than this.
-As far as homes and bad neighborhood?
-Homes, bad neighborhood, yeah.
-Okay.
-And it’s not that bad.
-I haven’t seen anything looking bad.
-Exactly.
-Now keep in mind,
we didn’t have a casino 15, 20 years ago.
-So it just totally changed
in 15, 20 years?
-Yeah, it changed drastically.
-Okay.
-Our council house right here,
we can get out
’cause I want to teach you about
a gentleman, his name is Charles George.
He’s one of 30 Natives
that have a Medal of Honor.
He was in World War II
and he jumped on a grenade.
-In World War II?
-We do have a lot of veterans,
I have a lot of veterans in my family.
You know the movie, We Were Soldiers
and he was talking about Vietnam
and the helicopters flying in?
-Yeah.
-There was two Cherokees, two brothers,
one is my great-uncle, one’s my grandpa.
-Oh, cool.
-Yeah.
-So why do so many Cherokees
go to the military?
Or it’s not so many?
-Not anymore because it was
a way of getting out of Cherokee.
-Okay.
-Yeah.
-It was the opportunity?
-Exactly.
-And now you don’t
need it necessarily, huh?
-No.
-So you don’t have many
Army recruiters here coming to Cherokee?
-No.
-Super interesting.
That’s how it is, guys.
In places like West Virginia
where I was just at
some of those neighborhoods,
you go through town,
you’d see the Army recruiting place,
and that’s like one of
the only opportunities.
But that’s prime, prime…
places to go to for those people.
‘Cause it’s a way
for them to escape that location.
Killed in action.
[Man] Gonna set
my food trailer up over there.
I sell food out of it, yeah.
-Cherokee food?
-Yeah.
-What do you got going?
-Cherokee fried bread.
I got hamburgers, hot dogs,
friend corn on the cob, fried meat skins.
-Good?
-Oh, yeah.
-You doing the cooking?
-You damn right.
-Wife in there at all?
-No, I don’t allow women in my cook shack.
-No offense, but…
-[Dylan laughing]
-[Peter] Why they mess it up?
-No, just ain’t never had one.
I been in this 30 years.
I’ve always worked male crew,
everything ’cause in the Cherokee way,
during the fall time
we have stick ball games
and if the young guys are playing
stick ball a woman can’t wait on ’em
or a woman can’t cook
their food while they’re playing.
-Why is that?
-It’s just tradition of stick ball.
-Interesting, and your
stick ball tournaments are savage, right?
-They get very violent.
-There ain’t no rules.
Only thing there is,
no fighting, no cussing.
They have referees
but they’re switchers is what we call ’em.
They carry a big old long hickory stick.
Big long limber limb.
Somebody goes to fighting or cussing,
they’ll switch ’em.
And you’re matched with a player
your own size at the beginning,
if he gets hurt or whatever,
and he has to go out,
then you have to go out.
-Okay, sir did you grow up here?
-Oh, yeah.
-It’s very beautiful.
-Mm-hmm.
-I know this isn’t a reservation–
-Yeah, it is.
-It’s a boundary?
-[Dylan] It’s a boundary.
-No, Cherokee Indian reservation.
[Dylan] No, we don’t.
[Dylan] We own this land…
We own this land.
-No, we don’t own it.
-Yeah, we do.
It’s gifted to us by the government.
-Who bought it back?
William Holland Thomas bought it back.
Oh yeah, but that’s why
we don’t have deeds to it
like he’s got deeds to his land.
-Yeah, we do.
-You don’t got no deed to your land.
-Yep, it’s called a life lease.
-That’s a life lease lease though.
-But I’m from Oklahoma.
-Out here in the Eastern Band
it’s not like that.
-It is like that.
-If I struck oil or gold on my land
the government come in here
and take what they want.
-The feds do?
-No, they don’t.
-If they wanted to.
-Okay.
-No, they can’t
-Out here you’re wrong on that,
you need to check on ours
out here in the East.
-My Grandpa is [Cherokee].
-Yeah, well you need to talk with him.
-I know what I’m talking about.
He’s talked me through it.
-It’s… We don’t own it.
-We do.
I can pass it on generation to generation.
-Okay.
-My family owns it long as we own it.
But we don’t own it
like you do yours with a deed.
-But you can’t sell it?
-To another Eastern Band I can.
-[slaps hands on legs]
-We own it!
-You don’t agree, okay.
So let me ask you this.
Why is this reservation so nice?
I’ve been on a lot of ’em,
this is like a different reality.
-Probably a little to do with the casino
plus we’ve always been tourism.
-Yeah.
-Okay.
[Dylan] We had to get rid of
the stereotypical stuff though.
-Oh, yeah.
-We’re going back to our roots now
so it’s a lot better.
[Peter] My friend here
is giving me the North Korean tour today.
[Dylan laughs]
-Which means he’s
only showing me the good stuff.
From what I’ve seen
it’s amazing, it’s beautiful.
-Oh yeah,
I live way back in the mountains.
-[Dylan] Big Cove?
-No, I live right at Fort Gap.
-[Dylan] Okay, way up there.
-[Peter] How far out?
-It’s probably ten miles from here.
About 4,000 feet higher up.
[Dylan] Yeah.
-[Peter] 4,000 feet higher than here?
-[Man] Yeah.
-It’s cool at nights?
-All the time, in eight years
I’ve not used my air conditioner
one time in the summer.
-[Dylan] Just open the windows, huh?
-Windows and ceiling fan.
-You love it here?
-I love it.
-Could you imagine living anywhere else?
-I lived in New York City for 20 years.
-Whoa!
-I was a drilling, blasting engineer
up there, building subway tunnels.
-Really?
-Yep.
-You built subway tunnels in New York?
-Drilled and blasting.
-Wow, why’d you come back?
-Just like they say,
you can take the man out of the mountains
but you can’t take
the mountains out of the man.
[Dylan giggles]
-I ain’t got no use for New York City.
People ask me if I have a religion.
Yeah, I’m religious but in my own way
as far as how I was taught to be.
-Yep.
-My granny was a Baptist preacher.
-Okay.
-When she got out of boarding school
she never spoke another word of English.
She done her sermons in Indian,
sang in Indian, and everything.
-Wow.
-Yeah.
-And my grandpa was a six foot six deacon.
My granny was about this tall.
[Dylan giggles]
Her hair drug the ground about three feet
and she brushed it
a hundred times every night.
She never shaved her head again either.
-You got a nice cut going there.
That’s the–
That’s the mullet, an old school mullet.
-Nah, just the tail.
-Oh, a rat tail.
-Not a rat tail but just a tail.
When I have a relative
that dies real close like a sister,
I’ll give it to ’em when they go.
-Oh, that’s cool.
-Last time I cut it
was when my mother died.
-Okay.
Wow.
So last question, thank you
for all this interesting insight.
-You ain’t got the bill yet.
[all laughing]
What would you say is different
about Cherokees than other tribes?
What would be something
unique to you guys?
-The traditional ways.
I’ve traveled the pow wow circuit,
and from other Tribes that I’ve met
and nations that I’ve met
we call ’em nations ’cause a lot
don’t like tribe or reservation.
-You use the word reservation,
they’re ready to fight you.
‘Cause like he said,
they think it’s their land.
Which it was, you know,
it is in the sense of the word.
But with a lot of nations,
their beliefs and their traditions
are a lot stronger than a lot of ours.
Because to be honest with you,
we were the first on the Eastern coast
to adapt the white man electoral system.
-Okay.
-That’s why when we
vote a chief and stuff in
it’s like any town council,
or mayor, whatever,
but we just call ’em council and chief.
I know how they feel.
[Peter] What did you say?
-I said,
“There’s one thing about it, honey.”
We was sitting on the porch one day
in the evening, I said, “Listen.”
She’s standing there going like this,
really straining to listen.
She said, “I don’t hear nothing.”
I said, “Exactly.”
You don’t hear nothing
and you think I’m gonna sit on this porch
and cry if you decide to leave? Huh-uh.
-Your wife’s from Jersey?
-Yeah.
-She’s my wife, she’s my better half wife.
-Okay, better half wife,
and you brought her here?
-Yeah.
-How’s she like it?
I said, “Honey I’m going
to the Appalachian Mountains,
you coming or you gonna stay?”.
“What you gonna do?
It’s up to you.”
-How long did it take
for her to answer you on that one?
-‘Bout 30 seconds.
-She said I’m in?
-Mm-hmm.
-Good work, I guess you
have to import when you’re living
ten miles from anyone else.
-Yeah.
-You have to import your wife.
-Pretty much.
-Yeah.
Hell, I told her she can give a slice away
but don’t give the whole loaf away.
[Dylan laughs]
Yeah, I can talk trash
in Cherokee too now.
[Dylan laughs]
[Peter] Whatever you wanna say.
-It’s like when you asked
if I lived here all my life.
-A lot of people say,
“Have you lived here all your life?”
I’dda said, “No, I’m not dead yet.”
[Dylan giggles]
-Where’d you say you was from,
what holler where?
-I live in a holler in West Virginia
-Well, no wonder.
-Yeah.
That’s where the damn toothbrush
was invented too, ain’t it?
-Why is that?
-‘Cause if it’d been invented
anywhere else it’d be called a teethbrush.
[Dylan laughs]
-Okay, you’re dropping the Cherokee humor.
-All right, take care.
-Take care.
-Nice to meet you.
-You too.
[Dylan] This is our hospital.
Our new facility hospital.
This portion’s been open
for a good while, I’d say 10, 15 years.
-Quite impressive.
-Yeah.
-Got an ER room here
and everything else you need.
-Yeah.
-It’s an amazing facility, beautiful too.
-It is.
-So it looks quite empty though.
-It is for the most part.
-Is it ’cause it’s new and they just
built it big for down the road or what?
-That, and we outsource our patients.
-You outsource them where?
-To Harris Regional, which is
in Asheville or there’s a Harris–
-Why do you outsource if you have this?
-‘Cause our doctors are not up to par.
-Oh, okay… okay.
Is it all Cherokee doctors?
-Go ahead, sir.
-Go ahead.
-Okay, thanks.
[Dylan] Uh, no.
-Okay.
But to get really good doctors
is not an easy thing to do, huh?
-No.
-“If you build it, they will come.”
doesn’t really apply here?
-Nah, it don’t work here.
-Okay.
-Yeah.
-It gets really quiet around here, huh?
-Yeah.
-It’s 6:30 and it’s pretty empty.
-Yeah, man.
-Especially for a Monday.
-I gotta say,
it’s just the times we’re in, everywhere.
More people are on screens,
the kids aren’t out on bikes.
-That’s a thing too,
I talked to my mother about this.
I was like, “Why was you okay with us
going down the street and going to play?”
I didn’t even let my daughter out the yard
because I was scared of what would happen.
-Yeah.
-We are so focused on things
that are being tossed at us every day
that we just get bad news
and we get scared.
-It’s a good point.
We just hear about more incidents
because of social media
more people have cameras.
-Yeah.
-But are the actual levels up
of kidnappings and crime?
-I think it just depends where you’re at.
-Exactly.
-I had no helicopter parenting,
I was out everywhere.
-They didn’t even know where we were.
-“Get home ‘fore the sun comes down.”
-Exactly.
-And now I would wanna raise
my kid that way but then I’m like,
“Would I want my kid BMX-ing down here?
Uh… I don’t know.
-Exactly, yeah.
-I don’t know
what happened in the culture.
-Then within my culture you have
these missing and murdered
Indigenous women.
-So that scares me even more.
-Yeah, sure.
Yep.
-I’ve told my daughter
you better scream your head off
if someone tries to pick you up.
Like, scream, cuss at ’em, I don’t care,
you won’t get in trouble, hit ’em,
stab ’em if you got
something to stab ’em with.
Get out of there.
-So there’s a real big worry
of that out here?
-For me especially,
I have a 13-year-old daughter.
She is my world.
-So you’re saying it’s safe out here,
that’s the one area
where it’s a little more sketchy?
-Yeah, I don’t know
how targeted our women are
but it seems to be fairly high.
-Natives in general.
-Yeah.
-So what is that?
-And it could be with the percentages too
where we have a small percentage
of the population.
It doesn’t take that much
for the percentage to go up
-Okay, yeah.
-This is all apartments–
-But it seems like the overall numbers
per capita are pretty high.
-I don’t know if they are exactly.
But in different reservations
across the country, different nations,
you’re seeing the signs everywhere
in grocery stores and gas stations.
[Dylan] This is our location
where we’re gonna sell our marijuana.
It’s gonna be our dispensary.
-That whole building?
-Yeah.
-So all those greenhouses–
-Yeah.
-That’s cultivation?
-Mm-hmm.
-This is where it’s gonna be sold,
and that’s just for you guys?
-Yeah, exactly.
-So what’s behind all this?
-What do you mean?
-Why do you wanna…
there’s 24,000 people out here.
-We want to test it out and see
what it does to our community first.
If it doesn’t help then, you know…
-Help what though?
-If it doesn’t help our people,
if we don’t see any advantages,
we’re not gonna go through with it.
-But you’re gonna smoke out
your whole nation out here.
-It’s up to them
whether they want to or not.
-Yeah, but what’s the…
-I understand there’s medicinal reasons.
-Yeah.
-But that’s a lot.
-But you also gotta think about–
-The cash?
-Okay, so there’s drive-ups, look at that.
-Mm-hmm
-So you’re gonna get
your cannabis by driving up.
-Yeah.
-And it’s just dispensed right there,
is that what that’s for?
-Yeah.
-Looks like an old bank, FDIC.
-This was just added to it I believe.
It was, yeah.
-I mean I’m just guessing.
-That part of the building is new.
-That’s a big profit thing I would say.
You know, it’s a big profit thing.
-Okay, so your people have a lot of money.
-A lot of them do.
-Uh-huh, yeah.
-And so this is just
a business that’s gonna thrive?
-‘Cause we don’t want
to have to rely on a casino.
What if that goes under?
Like I said, after a year we want to see
what happens with the crime
and do our research
on that aspect of things.
The crime rate, see if it goes up
because out West it did go up
when they did legalize it.
-Okay, so why would you–
You don’t want it to go up.
-No, no, we don’t
but I think that’s what I’m scared of
is it bringing the crime rate up.
We’re not trying
to mess our comfortable living up.
-Okay, I’m just gonna state
where my head is at.
-Okay, cool.
-It’s confusing to me to be honest.
-I think we’re missing something.
-Yeah.
-Someone will write
in the comments what’s going on.
-Hopefully they will.
-Explain that one, please.
-Someone knowledgeable.
What’s going on?
Post it in the comments.
Because it was
supposed to be done this summer
and something must have happened.
you know how I told you
some things are hush-hush?
-Okay.
-That coulda been one of those things.
-[Peter] Wow, look at that home.
-[Dylan] Yeah.
-So there’s some serious money out here?
-Mm-hmm.
-And it’s up to you whether you
want to chase that bag and get that bag.
Some people are content
with just living the way they live.
-They don’t need anything else.
They don’t want to do anything else.
Why would I want that?
-Right.
-Some people like myself are like,
“If I can make money,
I’m gonna make this money.”
-Okay.
So you just have
beautiful properties out here.
-Amazing house.
-Everywhere, yeah man.
-So a lot of space too,
look at the size of the lots.
-Yeah.
-This is unbelievable.
All within the boundary?
[Dylan] This house reminds me
of the stranger’s house,
I don’t know if
you’ve seen that horror movie
-Just to reiterate,
these are all Eastern Band Cherokees?
-Majority of ’em are,
some might be rental homes.
Like the Cherokees own them,
they just don’t live here in Cherokee.
They might be military,
maybe somewhere else.
-Okay.
Is this guy going for
the biggest lawn in the country award?
-I wouldn’t doubt it.
-He might be winning.
-It’s beautiful country out here.
-Oh my God.
-It’s breathtaking.
-I love it.
So right off that road,
we’re off the boundary?
-Yeah.
-And then it’s this off the boundary?
-“The Colton Court”, not happening.
-[Dylan giggles]
-So this just smashes all the stereotypes.
-Yeah.
What people seem to find out
when they come here is
the consensus of,
“Okay, I had the wrong idea
about all Native people.”
-You can’t put them
all in one basket.
-Can’t put a label on anything.
-You can’t do that.
-We have it made better than other tribes
and people still think we live in poverty.
But we’re not putting
that news out there either.
It’s not like we’re
trying to boast it, you know?
-Okay.
-We’re not like,
“I got it made better than you.”
And you’ve been to
so many reservations where it’s poor
and I feel for them
but we’re not like that out here.
-Yeah.
-That’s why I messaged you
on Instagram to show you,
“Hey, can I show my tribe
because we made it out.”
-We’re doing okay for ourselves.
-Yep.
I just don’t want people
to think of us as backwood Natives.
Yeah, don’t get me wrong,
I’m a country boy
but I’m still Cherokee at the same time.
These were our mountains
before country boys came in here
and said these were their mountains.
These are our mountains.
And with our language, you can tell.
I asked my elder,
“Why is our language not monotone?”.
-‘Cause you go out West, it’s monotone.
-Uh-huh.
But out here it’s not.
He said our language
goes with the ridges of the mountains.
-You have a tonal language?
-Mm-hmm.
-So like Chinese or Thai?
-Mm-hmm.
-Very cool.
-Yeah.
Thank you so much, that was awesome.
-Yeah, of course.
-Dylan… No way we would have
gotten in without Dylan of course.
-Yeah.
-I didn’t give him
the North Korea tour, I did not.
I just want you people to know
we succeeded too.
We were down in the slumps,
say 30, 40 years ago.
-Yeah.
-Now look at us.
-Right.
Look at our golf course, you know,
I get to enjoy this.
-Yeah.
-And–
-I’m very lucky.
-I also want to mention the more I dig in
to any culture or any part of the country,
like the deeper the rabbit hole is.
Like, been on many Native lands
and I had no clue this existed.
And they’re all so different.
-We’re a different breed out here.
-Yeah.
So…
-I’m very, very lucky.
And I want to thank Peter too
for doing what you’re doing.
Thanks, man.
-Because we don’t have
that representation out there.
-Yeah.
-And if we do it’s cringey.
-Okay.
You’re coming in the right way
by being like, “Let me show your story.”
-You tell it but let me show it.
-Yeah.
I get an education and luckily you guys
are interested in this sort of thing.
And this can be my life.
-Yeah, exactly.
-So you’re the man, Dylan.
-Thank you, man.
Uh, closing thoughts, that was awesome.
-People can come out to Cherokee.
-Yeah, anybody can come out.
Anyone can come out to Cherokee,
highly recommend it.
It’s beautiful, it’s stunning,
and also I want to let you know
I have other Native videos
somewhere on the screen here.
Anything else we gotta say?
Come the first week of October,
the first Tuesday.
We have an annual Cherokee fair
that we always throw.
It’s the biggest thing in town.
-Okay.
-Everybody’s in a good mood.
And you get to eat our food,
and hear our stories,
and watch stick ball.
-And Dylan, lastly, forgot to say.
-Mm-hmm.
Thank you for doing this
because you didn’t sleep for days.
-Yeah, 24 hours.
-24 hours, and you powered through.
-And you made it happen.
-Yeah.
I’m gonna go home
and take a nap after this.
-All right, thanks for coming along
on that journey, guys.
Until the next one.
♪ somber country ♪

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