By SCOTT MCKIE B.P.
ONE FEATHER STAFF
Stories of the Cherokee Little People permeate the mountains of western North Carolina, and Cherokee people believe that they are real. Area author Mary Joyce states she has proof of their existence in her new book entitled Cherokee Little People Were Real.
Joyce presented parts of her book during a discussion at the Qualla Boundary Public Library on Thursday, July 17.
“They originally were called the Moon People because they only came out at night,” she told the crowd of over 20 people gathered for the talk.
Her interest in the Cherokee Little People started after talking with the late Walter Middleton, who was involved in the construction of the Western Carolina University campus that started in the 1930s. “He started telling me about the Cherokee Little People, and I got really curious about it. And, the thing that I found out, after talking with him, is that there is concrete evidence that the Little People actually existed in this region.”
“He and a few other men actually worked on the first buildings that were constructed at Western Carolina University, and when they were cutting into the virgin land, they found these little tunnels.”
The tunnels, Joyce related, were carved out of red clay and were arched at the top, but were just a few feet high – much smaller than an average-size man could fit through.
For her book, Joyce interviewed more people that were involved in that original WCU construction, and more was found than just the tunnels.
She also said that many people believe that two Indian Mounds were originally on the campus, but related that her interviewees said differently of one of them. “The ol’ timers said that isn’t an Indian Mound. It’s a pile of dirt from digging these tunnels.”
Joyce said that bones of Little People were also found at the site. “They found a little skull,” she said. “And, there was a science teacher at the university who kept it on his desk, and he always said it was a child’s skulls. One day, another teacher came by and picked it up and looked at it real close and noticed it had its wisdom teeth. Typically, you don’t get your wisdom teeth until you’re about 18, 19, 20 or 21 so that indicated it was an adult skull, not a child’s skull.”
She said that this area is teaming with mystery. “We have Little People. We have little tunnels…we have Bigfoot…we have a lot of mysteries here in such a small area.”