- One of the most powerful tribes of the Iroquoian stock, and one of the
most famous in all North america because of its size and strength and the
prominent part it played in the history of the United States.
Separated from the other Iroquois in the
early days, the Cherokee roamed the mountain region of the South Alleghenies
in southwest Virginia, west north Carolina, South Carolina, northern Georgia,
and northeast Alabama, claiming territory to the Ohio River. They
were first encountered by De Soto in 1540. During the Revolutionary
War they sided with the English, but they did not wage actual war against
the colonists. In 1820 they had adopted a regular form of government
modeled after that of the United States. They were then known as
the Cherokee Nation.
The Cherokee were respected by the white
man. They were people of high character, and were the first to own
farms and accept the white man's schools. In 1825 it was recorded
that forty seven white men and seventy three white women had married into
the tribe. It was the gifted Sequoya, son of a white man and a Cherokee
woman, who painstakingly created the first written Indian alphabet - an
alphabet of the Cherokee language - so that his people could learn better
the ways of the white man. It was the only case of the creation of
a system of writing without the aid or prompting of the white man in the
history of the Indian.
When gold was discovered in Georgia, the
white man sought the removal of the Cherokee from this part of the country.
The state of Georgia began to claim their lands, and some of the whites
destroyed their farms and took their horses and cattle. In 1838-1839
the United States Army rounded up most of the Cherokee population and marched
them west. One fourth of the unhappy Indians died on the way.
survivors were established in the Indian Territory. They reorganized
their government and joined the Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek, and Seminole
to form the Five Civilized Tribes. As many were slaveholders and
had thousands of negro slaves, they joined with the Confederate Sates during
the Civil War.
One small group of Cherokee had refused
to be moved west and fled into the mountains of North Carolina and Tennessee.
After many difficulties they finally were able to obtain sufficient land
upon which to live, and today their homes are on the Qualla Reservation
in the Smoky mountains of North Carolina.
The name Cherokee is widespread throughout
the United States. There is a Cherokee county in Alabama, Georgia,
Iowa, Kansas, Oklahoma, North and South Carolina, and Texas. There
are also place names in some of these states, as well as in California,
kentucky, and Arkansas. There is a Cherokee City in Arkansas, a Cherokee
Dam in Tennessee, and a Cherokee Falls in South Carolina. Several
prominent Americans have descended from the Cherokee, notably Senator Robert
Owen and Will Rogers, the actor.
within this Site
Civilized Tribes ][ Mound Builders
][ Tattooing ][ Wampum
][ Ward ]