Along with Tanasi, Chota was one of the two Overhill towns recognized as a “capital” of the Cherokee Nation throughout the 1700s. For many years Chota was known as a beloved peace town because it was home to the uku, Old Hop, the foremost priest-chief of the Nation. Unfortunately, the sanctuary of the town could not stand against the tide of change affecting the Cherokees in the late 1700s. During the American Revolution, Chota, as well as much of the Overhill towns, was destroyed by continental forces and the Cherokee capital was moved.
In 1979, the site of Chota, as well as several other historic Cherokee towns, was inundated by the creation of Tellico Lake. Unlike the surrounding villages, however, the site of Chota was raised above the lake level and connected via causeway to the mainland. A monument, situated directly above the ancient council house location, represents the Cherokee clans and the Nation as a whole.
As the TVA prepared the area for inundation, a series of archeological digs unearthed the foundation for the council house as well as 91 burials. One of these burials was identified (by a pair of spectacles) to be that of the well-known warrior Oconostota. He was reinterred at the Chota site with a grave marker. The other burials were reinterred in 1986 at Sequoyah’s Birthplace Museum a few miles away.
Photos Copyright Christina Berry, All Things Cherokee
Chota Memorial Travel Details
This site is open year-round.
Directions: From Vonore travel east on highway 360. Just past Sequoyah’s Birthplace Museum is a sign leading to Tanasi & Chota. Follow the signs to the site. For specific directions, click the “Directions” link in the location bubble of the map above and enter your starting location on the left.
GPS & Map: 35.55471414719927,-84.13106918334961