Land and Sky Relay – The History Along The Route (Part 3-Qualla Boundary )

Land And Sky Relay Blog

The final part of our historical tour of the Land and Sky Relay race-course ends on the Qualla Boundary, where our teams will run their final legs of the race. While it is almost over, there are still hills to climb, streams to cross and history to appreciate on the way to the finish line.

Land And Sky Relay Map - Qualla BoundaryThe Qualla Boundary is the home of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. Contrary to what many read and believe, it is not a reservation, which is land given to a native tribe by the federal government. The Qualla Boundary consists of 56,000 acres purchased by the Cherokee people and held in trust by the United States. It is also a sovereign nation inside U.S. borders and is governed in much the same way with an Executive branch headed by the Principal Chief; a Legislative branch, known as the Tribal Council, which has twelve members representing six communities; and the Judicial branch.*1

Just past the Blue Ridge Parkway, Land and Sky Relay runners will enter the Qualla Boundary in the community of Wolfetown before running into Painttown. Both of these communities were named after the Wolf and Paint clans (two of the seven original Cherokee clans) by Yonaguska and Will Holland Thomas.

This area of the Qualla Boundary is where the boundary began and the original Qualla government started in the 1840’s. Yonaguska built the first townhouse here after being removed from the original settlement Kituwah (located in what is now Swain County).

Harrahs Cherokee Resort


The Land and Sky Relay finishes at Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort which is owned by the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians and managed by Harrah’s Entertainment. The original casino was built in 1997 and only measured 50,000 square feet. The first hotel tower was added in 2002. Now, the facility measures over 500,000 square feet with three hotel towers. In 2020, the Tribe will open an addition that includes a 100,000 square foot convention center, 200,000 square feet of retail space and a fourth tower with 725 rooms. The Cherokee facility employs approximately 2,600 people, while the sister casino outside of Murphy employs an additional 900 people; all of whom reside across Western North Carolina.*2

(*2)Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort

About Glory Hound Events

Glory Hound Events was started in 2006, initially managing the historic Bele Chere 5K. Shortly after that first year the Lake Logan Triathlon was introduced and eventually became a part of the Lake Logan Multisport Festival. Glory Hound Events is now the largest endurance event management company in the Western North Carolina region, producing an average of twelve events annually. In addition to producing its own events and those for a variety of clients, Glory Hound Events offers consulting services for events outside of Western North Carolina looking to take theirs to the next level.