I spent last week in North Carolina, working with the client who has taken over my life this summer. This time, I trained ten local women in face-to-face interviewing. They are awesome: smart, inquisitive, and I think they taught me more about native life than I taught them about interviewing. They’re going to go knock on doors and survey a few hundred of their neighbors over the course of the next month.
It is always an interesting experience staying there. I’m now a regular at the Hampton Inn in Cherokee, which is just like any other Hampton Inn I’ve every stayed in, except a “tribal occupancy tax” is added to my bill. The reservation is dry, but on this trip I ventured into nearby towns (Sylva, pop. 2600, and Bryson City, pop. 1400) so I could have wine with dinner. Most of the signs for buildings and streets are in both English and the Cherokee language:
(Incidentally, I spent a lot of time in this building; the Emergency Operations team helped us map all the addresses for survey respondents so we could give interviewers a good guide to where they were going.)
It’s election season (in fact, the election is today!). There are 7 smaller communities, and each one elects their reps to the tribal council. I’ve seen election posters all over ever since my first visit in April; I really liked this one:
The casino on their land is a landmark people use a lot. It brings in lots of money for the tribe and its members.
…but it also brings a lot of problems and exploitation.
Right off the tribal land is the “most photographed view in the Smokies.” I usually drive right by, but this time I had to stop: