We returned to Cherokee in March of 2004 and found a growing, changing, vibrant community. In March of 1999, the Casino had only been open for six months and it was much too early to see any changes. Now, five years later, the benefits are clearly evident. Construction, renovation, tourists are everywhere. There is about this charming town, a sense of energy and life. The University of North Carolina is studying "what happens to a community as it rises out of poverty" - i.e. substance abuse, wife/child abuse, crime rates, etc.
We were delighted with the changes and eager to meet up with old friends. The Cherokee Preservation Foundation helped to fund our month long stay where we worked with Seniors and Fourth and Fifth graders. Together we made Eastern Bluebirds, Bloodroot, Flying Squirrels, Sunflowers, Black Bear Cubs, Kingfishers and adult Bear Heads.
During our stay, the elementary school held a jump rope exhibition to raise money for diabetes research - the health scourge of the community. Everyone turned out and the children raised $28,000. The Cherokee appear to us, to be running their community both efficiently and humanely - we were impressed.