Cherokee Historical Village Recovers Some Stolen Items, Investigation Continues

Some of the items stolen from Oconaluftee Indian Village at the Cherokee Historical Association have been recovered, but the investigation as to who stole the sacred and traditional items is ongoing.

Following a theft at the Oconaluftee Indian Village in Cherokee, North Carolina at the end of August, some of the stolen items have been recovered, but not all.

Freddy Wilnoty, who works at the village, found some of the items at local area shops and purchased them with his own money to return them to the village.

Items he bought included a blowgun belonging to William “Juggie” Swimmer, one of his own flint knives and piece of elk antler that had been cut up and made into a knife handle.

Wilnoty spent $250 of his own money to get the items back.

Laura Blythe, program and education resource manager for the Cherokee Historical Association, said he will be reimbursed for his out of pocket expense, as well as receiving a reward for finding the items, but she would not disclose how much reward money would be given.

She said no arrests have been made, but they have some leads. She couldn’t speak further about those leads as the investigation into the crime is ongoing.

Oconaluftee Indian Village Assistant Manager Davy Arch thinks the thief was mainly after Swimmer’s blowgun.

“I think it was somebody who knew where it was at—it was just a crime of convenience to take the other stuff,” he said, adding that the blowgun could have been worth anywhere from $100 to $200 depending on the buyer.

But the blowgun is invaluable to Swimmer, a world-champion blowgun expert, who made it 25 years ago and has won numerous competitions with it. He was happy to get it back, even though about a foot had been cut off the end of it.

“He was disappointed it had been damaged, but was elated to get it back,” Arch said. “He competed with it this past weekend and said it didn’t feel the same, but it worked almost as well as it had before.”

To report any information regarding the items, call the Cherokee Historical Association at 828-497-2111 or 828-736-6393.

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Sacred and Traditional Items Stolen From Cherokee Historical Village