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Chief Henry and the New Roadside America book.

Chief Henry - His Spirit Lives on

Cherokee, North Carolina

Henry Lambert, AKA Chief Henry, 72, passed away on November 19, 2007. He is known to Roadside fans (and the rest of humanity) as the World's Most Photographed Indian, a living photo opportunity seen on street corners of Cherokee, NC for nearly 60 years. He appeared in Native American dress, looking both stern and noble, on over 50 postcards.

Chief Henry, 1999.
Chief Henry, 1999.

According to his granddaughter Alissa Libby, he spent his last days at home set up in a hospital bed and surrounded by family. "As you may know he made and sold magnetic jewelry," she noted, so towards the end "his hands were moving like he was making jewelry." Magnetic jewelry is purported to have healing energies, but not enough to reverse decades of smoking damage (if that's what caused his lung cancer).

Though other chiefs and braves continue their sidewalk photo vigils, Cherokee may never be the same without Chief Henry.

Lambert began his career "chiefing" around 1948, not full-time at first (so his accounts to family members vary between age 13 and 15). When he was 16, in 1951, he was asked to sub for an absent chief at a gift shop, and realized he'd make more money at it than as a construction worker.

Chief Henry was a powerful, reliable presence in Cherokee, willing to pose with anyone to enhance their vacation memories. He'd even stand with a folding cardboard tourist, our traveling companion from long research trips for the original Roadside America book in 1985. Chief Henry was back every season, even weathering a fire that destroyed part of the Teepee Village strip mall in 1999. He appeared in National Geographic in 1995.

The Chief was married 50 years, has five daughters and one son. He has seven grandsons, one step-grandson, seven granddaughters, and one step-granddaughter. And there are 12 great grandchildren and 3 step grandchildren (And we thought he spent all his time posing for photos....).

Alissa told us there is no successor ready to move into the teepee quite yet. "Almost all the grandkids have worked with him taking pictures. My brother and myself have also chiefed and princessed with him. Someone may pick it up one day."

Also see: The Hall of Immortals

Chief Henry, World's Most Photographed Indian

Chief Henry's Gifts And More. On Big Cove Rd, one block east of the northbound side of Hwy 441, just outside the entrance to Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Chief Henry died in 2007.

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