Cherokee

Cherokee

Overview
The Cherokee ˈtʃɛrəkiː are a Native American
Native Americans in the United States
Native Americans in the United States are the indigenous peoples in North America within the boundaries of the present-day continental United States, parts of Alaska, and the island state of Hawaii. They are composed of numerous, distinct tribes, states, and ethnic groups, many of which survive as...

 people historically settled in the Southeastern United States
Southeastern United States
The Southeastern United States, colloquially referred to as the Southeast, is the eastern portion of the Southern United States. It is one of the most populous regions in the United States of America....

 (principally Georgia
Georgia (U.S. state)
Georgia is a state located in the southeastern United States. It was established in 1732, the last of the original Thirteen Colonies. The state is named after King George II of Great Britain. Georgia was the fourth state to ratify the United States Constitution, on January 2, 1788...

, the Carolinas
The Carolinas
The Carolinas is a term used in the United States to refer collectively to the states of North and South Carolina. Together, the two states + have a population of 13,942,126. "Carolina" would be the fifth most populous state behind California, Texas, New York, and Florida...

 and East Tennessee
East Tennessee
East Tennessee is a name given to approximately the eastern third of the U.S. state of Tennessee, one of the three Grand Divisions of Tennessee defined in state law. East Tennessee consists of 33 counties, 30 located within the Eastern Time Zone and three counties in the Central Time Zone, namely...

). Linguistically, they are part of the Iroquoian language family
Iroquoian languages
The Iroquoian languages are a First Nation and Native American language family.-Family division:*Ruttenber, Edward Manning. 1992 [1872]. History of the Indian tribes of Hudson's River. Hope Farm Press....

. In the 19th century, historians and ethnographers recorded their oral tradition that told of the tribe having migrated south in ancient times from the Great Lakes
Great Lakes
The Great Lakes are a collection of freshwater lakes located in northeastern North America, on the Canada – United States border. Consisting of Lakes Superior, Michigan, Huron, Erie, and Ontario, they form the largest group of freshwater lakes on Earth by total surface, coming in second by volume...

 region, where other Iroquoian-speaking peoples were located.

In the 19th century, white settlers in the United States called the Cherokees one of the "Five Civilized Tribes
Five Civilized Tribes
The Five Civilized Tribes were the five Native American nations—the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek, and Seminole—that were considered civilized by Anglo-European settlers during the colonial and early federal period because they adopted many of the colonists' customs and had generally good...

", because they had assimilated numerous cultural and technological practices of European American
European American
A European American is a citizen or resident of the United States who has origins in any of the original peoples of Europe...

 settlers.
Discussion
Ask a question about 'Cherokee'
Start a new discussion about 'Cherokee'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Unanswered Questions
Recent Discussions
Encyclopedia
The Cherokee ˈtʃɛrəkiː are a Native American
Native Americans in the United States
Native Americans in the United States are the indigenous peoples in North America within the boundaries of the present-day continental United States, parts of Alaska, and the island state of Hawaii. They are composed of numerous, distinct tribes, states, and ethnic groups, many of which survive as...

 people historically settled in the Southeastern United States
Southeastern United States
The Southeastern United States, colloquially referred to as the Southeast, is the eastern portion of the Southern United States. It is one of the most populous regions in the United States of America....

 (principally Georgia
Georgia (U.S. state)
Georgia is a state located in the southeastern United States. It was established in 1732, the last of the original Thirteen Colonies. The state is named after King George II of Great Britain. Georgia was the fourth state to ratify the United States Constitution, on January 2, 1788...

, the Carolinas
The Carolinas
The Carolinas is a term used in the United States to refer collectively to the states of North and South Carolina. Together, the two states + have a population of 13,942,126. "Carolina" would be the fifth most populous state behind California, Texas, New York, and Florida...

 and East Tennessee
East Tennessee
East Tennessee is a name given to approximately the eastern third of the U.S. state of Tennessee, one of the three Grand Divisions of Tennessee defined in state law. East Tennessee consists of 33 counties, 30 located within the Eastern Time Zone and three counties in the Central Time Zone, namely...

). Linguistically, they are part of the Iroquoian language family
Iroquoian languages
The Iroquoian languages are a First Nation and Native American language family.-Family division:*Ruttenber, Edward Manning. 1992 [1872]. History of the Indian tribes of Hudson's River. Hope Farm Press....

. In the 19th century, historians and ethnographers recorded their oral tradition that told of the tribe having migrated south in ancient times from the Great Lakes
Great Lakes
The Great Lakes are a collection of freshwater lakes located in northeastern North America, on the Canada – United States border. Consisting of Lakes Superior, Michigan, Huron, Erie, and Ontario, they form the largest group of freshwater lakes on Earth by total surface, coming in second by volume...

 region, where other Iroquoian-speaking peoples were located.

In the 19th century, white settlers in the United States called the Cherokees one of the "Five Civilized Tribes
Five Civilized Tribes
The Five Civilized Tribes were the five Native American nations—the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek, and Seminole—that were considered civilized by Anglo-European settlers during the colonial and early federal period because they adopted many of the colonists' customs and had generally good...

", because they had assimilated numerous cultural and technological practices of European American
European American
A European American is a citizen or resident of the United States who has origins in any of the original peoples of Europe...

 settlers. According to the 2000 U.S. Census, the Cherokee Nation
Cherokee Nation
The Cherokee Nation is the largest of three Cherokee federally recognized tribes in the United States. It was established in the 20th century, and includes people descended from members of the old Cherokee Nation who relocated voluntarily from the Southeast to Indian Territory and Cherokees who...

 has more than 300,000 members, the largest of the 565 federally recognized Native American tribes in the United States.

Of the three federally recognized Cherokee tribes, the Cherokee Nation
Cherokee Nation
The Cherokee Nation is the largest of three Cherokee federally recognized tribes in the United States. It was established in the 20th century, and includes people descended from members of the old Cherokee Nation who relocated voluntarily from the Southeast to Indian Territory and Cherokees who...

 and the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians
United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians
The United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians in Oklahoma is a federally recognized tribe of Cherokee Indians headquartered in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. The United Keetoowah are also referred to as the UKB...

 (UKB) have headquarters in Tahlequah
Tahlequah, Oklahoma
Tahlequah is a city in Cherokee County, Oklahoma, United States located at the foothills of the Ozark Mountains. It was founded as a capital of the original Cherokee Nation in 1838 to welcome those Cherokee forced west on the Trail of Tears. The city's population was 15,753 at the 2010 census. It...

, Oklahoma
Oklahoma
Oklahoma is a state located in the South Central region of the United States of America. With an estimated 3,751,351 residents as of the 2010 census and a land area of 68,667 square miles , Oklahoma is the 28th most populous and 20th-largest state...

. The UKB are mostly descendants of "Old Settlers", Cherokee who migrated to Arkansas and Oklahoma about 1817. The Cherokee Nation are related to the people who were forcibly relocated
Cherokee removal
Cherokee removal, part of the Trail of Tears, refers to the forced relocation between 1836 to 1839 of the Cherokee Nation from their lands in Georgia, Texas, Tennessee, Alabama, and North Carolina to the Indian Territory in the Western United States, which resulted in the deaths of approximately...

 there in the 1830s under the Indian Removal Act
Indian Removal Act
The Indian Removal Act was signed into law by President Andrew Jackson on May 28, 1830.The Removal Act was strongly supported in the South, where states were eager to gain access to lands inhabited by the Five Civilized Tribes. In particular, Georgia, the largest state at that time, was involved in...

. The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians
Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians
The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians , is a federally recognized Native American tribe in the United States of America, who are descended from Cherokee who remained in the Eastern United States while others moved, or were forced to relocate, to the west in the 19th century. The history of the...

 is located on the Qualla Boundary
Qualla Boundary
The Qualla Boundary is the territory where the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians reside in western North Carolina.-Location:...

 in western North Carolina
North Carolina
North Carolina is a state located in the southeastern United States. The state borders South Carolina and Georgia to the south, Tennessee to the west and Virginia to the north. North Carolina contains 100 counties. Its capital is Raleigh, and its largest city is Charlotte...

.

In addition, there are Cherokee bands in the Southeast that are recognized as tribes by state governments, such as the Echota Cherokee Tribe of Alabama, but not the federal government.

Name


The Cherokee refer to themselves as Tsalagi or Aniyvwiyaʔi , which means "Principal People." The Iroquois
Iroquois
The Iroquois , also known as the Haudenosaunee or the "People of the Longhouse", are an association of several tribes of indigenous people of North America...

, who were based in New York, called the Cherokee Oyata’ge'ronoñ (inhabitants of the cave country).

Many theories – though none proven – abound about the origin of the word
Etymology
Etymology is the study of the history of words, their origins, and how their form and meaning have changed over time.For languages with a long written history, etymologists make use of texts in these languages and texts about the languages to gather knowledge about how words were used during...

 Cherokee. It may have originally been derived from the Choctaw
Choctaw
The Choctaw are a Native American people originally from the Southeastern United States...

 word Cha-la-kee, which means "those who live in the mountains", or Choctaw Chi-luk-ik-bi, meaning "those who live in the cave country". The earliest Spanish rendering of Cherokee, from 1755, is Tchalaquei. Another theory is that "Cherokee" derives from a Lower Creek word, Ciló-kki, meaning someone who speaks another language. The most likely derivation, however, is an Anglicisation
Anglicisation
Anglicisation, or anglicization , is the process of converting verbal or written elements of any other language into a form that is more comprehensible to an English speaker, or, more generally, of altering something such that it becomes English in form or character.The term most often refers to...

 of their autonym
Autonym
Autonym may refer to*Autonym, the name used by a people to refer to themselves or their language, synonymous with endonym*Autonym, the true name of an author disclosed by resolving a pseudonym...

, or name for themselves: Tsalagi in their language.

Origins



There are two prevailing views about Cherokee origins. One is that the Cherokee, an Iroquoian-speaking people, are relative latecomers to Southern Appalachia
Appalachia
Appalachia is a term used to describe a cultural region in the eastern United States that stretches from the Southern Tier of New York state to northern Alabama, Mississippi, and Georgia. While the Appalachian Mountains stretch from Belle Isle in Canada to Cheaha Mountain in the U.S...

, who may have migrated in late prehistoric times from northern areas, the traditional territory of the later Haudenosaunee and other Iroquoian-speaking peoples. Researchers in the 19th century recorded conversations with elders who recounted an oral tradition of the Cherokee people's migrating south from the Great Lakes
Great Lakes
The Great Lakes are a collection of freshwater lakes located in northeastern North America, on the Canada – United States border. Consisting of Lakes Superior, Michigan, Huron, Erie, and Ontario, they form the largest group of freshwater lakes on Earth by total surface, coming in second by volume...

 region in ancient times. The other theory, which is disputed by academic specialists, is that they had been there for thousands of years.

Some traditionalists, historians and archaeologists believe that Cherokees did not come to Appalachia until the 13th century or later. They may have migrated from the north and moved south into Muscogee Creek territory and settled at the sites of mound
Mound
A mound is a general term for an artificial heaped pile of earth, gravel, sand, rocks, or debris. The most common use is in reference to natural earthen formation such as hills and mountains, particularly if they appear artificial. The term may also be applied to any rounded area of topographically...

s built by Muscogee ancestors. During early research, archeologists had mistakenly attributed several Mississippian culture
Mississippian culture
The Mississippian culture was a mound-building Native American culture that flourished in what is now the Midwestern, Eastern, and Southeastern United States from approximately 800 CE to 1500 CE, varying regionally....

 sites to the Cherokee, including Moundville
Moundville Archaeological Site
Moundville Archaeological Site, also known as the Moundville Archaeological Park, is a Mississippian site on the Black Warrior River in Hale County, near the town of Tuscaloosa, Alabama...

 and Etowah Mounds
Etowah Indian Mounds
Etowah Indian Mounds is a archaeological site in Bartow County, Georgia south of Cartersville, in the United States. Built and occupied in three phases, from 1000–1550 CE, the prehistoric site is located on the north shore of the Etowah River. Etowah Indian Mounds Historic Site is a designated...

. Late 20th-century studies have shown conclusively instead that the weight of archeological evidence at the sites shows they are unquestionably related to Muskogean peoples rather than to the Cherokee.

Precontact Cherokee are considered to be part of the later Pisgah Phase
Pisgah Phase
The Pisgah Phase is an archaeological phase of the South Appalachian Mississippian culture in parts of Northeastern Tennessee, Western North Carolina and Northwestern South Carolina.-Location:...

 of Southern Appalachia, which lasted from circa 1000 to 1500. Despite the consensus among most specialists in Southeast archeology and anthropology, some scholars contend that ancestors of the Cherokee people lived in western North Carolina and eastern Tennessee for a far longer period of time. During the late Archaic and Woodland Period
Woodland period
The Woodland period of North American pre-Columbian cultures was from roughly 1000 BCE to 1000 CE in the eastern part of North America. The term "Woodland Period" was introduced in the 1930s as a generic header for prehistoric sites falling between the Archaic hunter-gatherers and the...

, Indians in the region began to cultivate plants such as marsh elder, lambsquarters, pigweed
Pigweed
Pigweed can mean any of a number of weedy plants which may be used as pig fodder:* Amaranthus species** Amaranthus palmeri, the 'pigweed' resistant to glyphosate in the US southeast.* Chenopodium album * Portulaca species...

, sunflowers and some native squash. People created new art forms such as shell gorget
Shell gorget
A shell gorget is a Native American art form of polished, carved shell pendants worn around the neck. The gorgets are frequently engraved, and are sometimes highlighted with pigments, or fenestrated ....

s, adopted new technologies, and followed an elaborate cycle of religious ceremonies. During the Mississippian Culture
Mississippian culture
The Mississippian culture was a mound-building Native American culture that flourished in what is now the Midwestern, Eastern, and Southeastern United States from approximately 800 CE to 1500 CE, varying regionally....

-period (800 to 1500 CE), local women developed a new variety of maize
Maize
Maize known in many English-speaking countries as corn or mielie/mealie, is a grain domesticated by indigenous peoples in Mesoamerica in prehistoric times. The leafy stalk produces ears which contain seeds called kernels. Though technically a grain, maize kernels are used in cooking as a vegetable...

 (corn) called eastern flint
Flint corn
Flint corn, is the same species as, but a different variant of maize...

. It closely resembled modern corn and produced larger crops. The successful cultivation of corn surpluses allowed the rise of larger, more complex chiefdoms with several villages and concentrated populations during this period. Corn became celebrated among numerous peoples in religious ceremonies, especially the Green Corn Ceremony
Green Corn Ceremony
The Green Corn Ceremony is an English term that refers to a general religious and social theme celebrated by a number of American Indian peoples of the Eastern Woodlands and the Southeastern tribes...

.

Early culture



Much of what is known about pre-18th-century Native American cultures, including the Cherokee, has come from records of Spanish expeditions. Some of this work was not translated into English and made available to historians until the 20th century. In addition, the dominance of English colonists over the Southeast led to a discounting of Spanish sources for some time.

American writer John Howard Payne
John Howard Payne
John Howard Payne was an American actor, poet, playwright, and author who had most of his theatrical career and success in London. He is today most remembered as the creator of "Home! Sweet Home!", a song he wrote in 1822 that became widely popular in the United States, Great Britain, and the...

 wrote about pre-19th century Cherokee culture and society. The Payne papers describe the account by Cherokee elders of a traditional two-part societal structure. A "white" organization of elders represented the seven clans. As Payne recounted, this group, which was hereditary and priest
Priest
A priest is a person authorized to perform the sacred rites of a religion, especially as a mediatory agent between humans and deities. They also have the authority or power to administer religious rites; in particular, rites of sacrifice to, and propitiation of, a deity or deities...

ly, was responsible for religious activities, such as healing, purification, and prayer. A second group of younger men, the "red" organization, was responsible for warfare. The Cherokee considered warfare a polluting activity, and warriors required the purification of the priestly class before participants could reintegrate into normal village life. This hierarchy had disappeared long before the 18th century.

Researchers have debated the reasons for the change. Some historians believe the decline in priestly power originated with a revolt by the Cherokee against the abuses of the priestly class known as the Ani-kutani
Ani-kutani
The Ani-kutani were the ancient priesthood of the Cherokee people. According to Cherokee legend, the Ani-Kutani were slain during a mass uprising by the Cherokee people approximately 300 years prior to European contact. This uprising was sparked by the fact that the Ani-Kutani had become corrupt...

. Ethnographer James Mooney
James Mooney
James Mooney was an American ethnographer who lived for several years among the Cherokee. He did major studies of Southeastern Indians, as well as those on the Great Plains...

, who studied the Cherokee in the late 1880s, was the first to trace the decline of the former hierarchy to this revolt. By the time of Mooney, the structure of Cherokee religious practitioners was more informal, based more on individual knowledge and ability than upon heredity.

Another major source of early cultural history comes from materials written in the 19th century by the didanvwisgi , Cherokee medicine men
Medicine man
"Medicine man" or "Medicine woman" are English terms used to describe traditional healers and spiritual leaders among Native American and other indigenous or aboriginal peoples...

, after Sequoyah
Sequoyah
Sequoyah , named in English George Gist or George Guess, was a Cherokee silversmith. In 1821 he completed his independent creation of a Cherokee syllabary, making reading and writing in Cherokee possible...

's creation of the Cherokee syllabary
Cherokee syllabary
The Cherokee syllabary is a syllabary invented by Sequoyah to write the Cherokee language in the late 1810s and early 1820s. His creation of the syllabary is particularly noteworthy in that he could not previously read any script. He first experimented with logograms, but his system later developed...

 in the 1820s. Initially only the didanvwisgi adopted and used such materials, which were considered extremely powerful in a spiritual sense. Later, the syllabary and writings were widely adopted by the Cherokee people.

Unlike most other Indians in the American Southeast at the start of the historic era, the Cherokee spoke an Iroquoian language
Iroquoian languages
The Iroquoian languages are a First Nation and Native American language family.-Family division:*Ruttenber, Edward Manning. 1992 [1872]. History of the Indian tribes of Hudson's River. Hope Farm Press....

. Since the Great Lakes
Great Lakes
The Great Lakes are a collection of freshwater lakes located in northeastern North America, on the Canada – United States border. Consisting of Lakes Superior, Michigan, Huron, Erie, and Ontario, they form the largest group of freshwater lakes on Earth by total surface, coming in second by volume...

 region was the core of Iroquoian-language speakers, scholars have theorized that the Cherokee migrated South from that region. This is supported by the Cherokee oral history
Oral history
Oral history is the collection and study of historical information about individuals, families, important events, or everyday life using audiotapes, videotapes, or transcriptions of planned interviews...

 tradition. According to the scholars' theory, the Tuscarora, another Iroquoian-speaking people inhabited the Southeast in historic times, and the Cherokee broke off from the major group during its northern migration.

Other historians hold that, judging from linguistic and cultural data, the Tuscarora people migrated South from other Iroquoian-speaking people in the Great Lakes region in ancient times. Most "returned" to the New York
New York
New York is a state in the Northeastern region of the United States. It is the nation's third most populous state. New York is bordered by New Jersey and Pennsylvania to the south, and by Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont to the east...

 area from the southeast by 1722 because of warfare in the southern region. The Tuscarora were admitted then by the Iroquois as the Sixth Nation of their confederacy.

Linguistic analysis shows a relatively large difference between Cherokee and the northern Iroquoian languages. Scholars posit a split between the groups in the distant past, perhaps 3500–3800 years ago. Glottochronology
Glottochronology
Glottochronology is that part of lexicostatistics dealing with the chronological relationship between languages....

 studies suggest the split occurred between about 1,500 and 1,800 BCE. The Cherokee have claimed the ancient settlement of Kituwa on the Tuckasegee River, formerly next to and now part of Qualla Boundary
Qualla Boundary
The Qualla Boundary is the territory where the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians reside in western North Carolina.-Location:...

 (the reservation of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians
Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians
The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians , is a federally recognized Native American tribe in the United States of America, who are descended from Cherokee who remained in the Eastern United States while others moved, or were forced to relocate, to the west in the 19th century. The history of the...

), as the original Cherokee settlement in the Southeast.

16th century: Spanish contact



The first known European-Native American contact was in 1540, when a Spanish expedition led by Hernando de Soto passed through Cherokee country. De Soto's expedition visited many inland Georgia and Tennessee villages which they recorded as ruled by the Coosa chiefdom
Coosa chiefdom
The Coosa chiefdom was a powerful Native American paramount chiefdom near what are now Gordon and Murray counties in Georgia, in the United States. It was inhabited from about 1400 until about 1600, and dominated several smaller chiefdoms...

, of the Mississippian culture. The Cherokee did not settle in this area until the early 18th century. The Spanish noted the Chalaque nation as living around the Keowee River
Keowee River
The Keowee River is created by the confluence of the Toxaway River and the Whitewater River in northern Oconee County, South Carolina. The confluence is today submerged beneath the waters of Lake Jocassee, a reservoir created by Lake Jocassee Dam....

 where North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia meet. European diseases, introduced to natives by contact with the Spanish and their animals, decimated many Eastern tribes because of their lack of immunity to the new diseases.

A second Spanish expedition came through the interior in 1567 led by Juan Pardo
Juan Pardo (explorer)
Juan Pardo was a Spanish explorer and conquistador who was active in the later half of the sixteenth century. He led a Spanish expedition through what is now North and South Carolina and into eastern Tennessee. He established Fort San Felipe, South Carolina , and the village of Santa Elena on...

. Spanish troops built six forts in the interior Southeast, including at the Mississippian chiefdom
Chiefdom
A chiefdom is a political economy that organizes regional populations through a hierarchy of the chief.In anthropological theory, one model of human social development rooted in ideas of cultural evolution describes a chiefdom as a form of social organization more complex than a tribe or a band...

 of Joara
Joara
Joara was a large Native American settlement, a regional chiefdom of the Mississippian culture, located in what is now Burke County, North Carolina. Joara is notable as a significant archaeological and historic site. It was a place of encounter in 1540 between the Mississippian people and the...

 near present-day Morganton, North Carolina
Morganton, North Carolina
Morganton is a city in Burke County, North Carolina, United States. Reader's Digest included Morganton in its list of top ten places to raise a family. The town was recently profiled in The 50 Best Small Southern Towns. The population was 17,310 at the 2000 census...

, where they named their installation Fort San Juan. This was the first European settlement in the interior. They visited what were later Cherokee towns of Nikwasi
Nikwasi
Nikwasi was an important Cherokee town located on the Little Tennessee River at the site of present-day Franklin, North Carolina....

, Estatoe, Tugaloo, Conasauga, and Kituwa. The indigenous
Indigenous peoples
Indigenous peoples are ethnic groups that are defined as indigenous according to one of the various definitions of the term, there is no universally accepted definition but most of which carry connotations of being the "original inhabitants" of a territory....

 people rose against the Spanish soldiers, killing all but one of the 120 stationed at the six forts, and burning all the forts. The Spanish retreated to the coast.

17th century: English contact


In 1654, there was a disturbance in Virginia Colony as the Rechahecrians or Rickahockans, as well as the Siouan Manahoac
Manahoac
The Manahoac, also recorded as Mahock, were a small group of Siouan-language American Indians in northern Virginia at the time of European contact. They numbered approximately 1,000 and lived primarily along the Rappahannock River west of modern Fredericksburg and the fall line, and east of the...

and Nahyssan, broke through the frontier and settled near the Falls of the James, near present-day Richmond, Virginia
Richmond, Virginia
Richmond is the capital of the Commonwealth of Virginia, in the United States. It is an independent city and not part of any county. Richmond is the center of the Richmond Metropolitan Statistical Area and the Greater Richmond area...

. The following year, a combined force of English and Pamunkey
Pamunkey
The Pamunkey nation are one of eleven Virginia Indian tribes recognized by the Commonwealth of Virginia. The historical tribe was part of the Powhatan paramountcy, made up of Algonquian-speaking tribes. The Powhatan paramount chiefdom was made up over 30 tribes, estimated to total about...

 drove the newcomers away. The identity of the Rechahecrians has been much debated. Historians noted the name closely resembled that recorded for the Eriechronon or Erielhonan, commonly known as the Erie tribe. They had been driven away from the southern shore of Lake Erie
Lake Erie
Lake Erie is the fourth largest lake of the five Great Lakes in North America, and the tenth largest globally. It is the southernmost, shallowest, and smallest by volume of the Great Lakes and therefore also has the shortest average water residence time. It is bounded on the north by the...

 by the powerful Iroquois
Iroquois
The Iroquois , also known as the Haudenosaunee or the "People of the Longhouse", are an association of several tribes of indigenous people of North America...

 Five Nations in 1654. The anthropologist Martin Smith
Martin Smith
Martin Smith may refer to:*Martin Smith , British professor of robotics at the Open University*Martin Smith , British actor, singer and composer*Martin Smith , Irish boxer...

 theorized some remnants of the tribe migrated to Virginia after the wars (1986:131–32). Fewer historians suggest this tribe was Cherokee.

Virginian traders developed a small-scale trading system with the Cherokee before the end of the 17th century; the earliest recorded Virginia trader to visit the Cherokee was a certain Dority, in 1690. The Cherokee sold the traders Indian slaves
Slavery among Native Americans in the United States
Slavery among Native Americans in the United States includes slavery by Native Americans as well as slavery of Native Americans roughly within the present-day United States. Tribal territories and the slave trade ranged over present-day borders...

 for use as laborers in Virginia and further north.

18th century




The Cherokees gave sanctuary to a band of Shawnee
Shawnee
The Shawnee, Shaawanwaki, Shaawanooki and Shaawanowi lenaweeki, are an Algonquian-speaking people native to North America. Historically they inhabited the areas of Ohio, Virginia, West Virginia, Western Maryland, Kentucky, Indiana, and Pennsylvania...

 in the 1660s, but from 1710 to 1715 the Cherokee and Chickasaw, allied with the British, fought Shawnee, who were allied with the French, and forced them to move northward. Cherokees fought with the Yamasee
Yamasee
The Yamasee were a multiethnic confederation of Native Americans that lived in the coastal region of present-day northern coastal Georgia near the Savannah River and later in northeastern Florida.-History:...

, Catawba
Catawba (tribe)
The Catawba are a federally recognized tribe of Native Americans, known as the Catawba Indian Nation. They live in the Southeast United States, along the border between North and South Carolina near the city of Rock Hill...

, and British in late 1712 and early 1713 against the Tuscarora in the Second Tuscarora War
Tuscarora War
The Tuscarora War was fought in North Carolina during the autumn of 1711 until 11 February 1715 between the British, Dutch, and German settlers and the Tuscarora Native Americans. A treaty was signed in 1715....

. The Tuscarora War marked the beginning of an English-Cherokee relationship that, despite breaking down on occasion, remained strong for much of the 18th century. With the growth of the deerskin trade
Deerskin trade
The deerskin trade between Colonial America and the Native Americans was one of the most important trading relationships between Europeans and Native Americans, especially in the southeast. It was a form of the fur trade, but less known, since deer skins were not as valuable as furs from the north...

, the Cherokee were valuable trading partners, since deer-skins from the cooler country of their mountain hunting-grounds were of a better-quality than those supplied by neighboring tribes.

In January 1716, Cherokee murdered a delegation of Muscogee Creek leaders at the town of Tugaloo
Tugaloo (Cherokee town)
Tugaloo was a Cherokee town on the Tugaloo River, at the mouth of Toccoa Creek, near present-day Toccoa, Georgia and very near the historic tavern called Travelers Rest....

, marking their entry into the Yamasee War
Yamasee War
The Yamasee War was a conflict between British settlers of colonial South Carolina and various Native American Indian tribes, including the Yamasee, Muscogee, Cherokee, Chickasaw, Catawba, Apalachee, Apalachicola, Yuchi, Savannah River Shawnee, Congaree, Waxhaw, Pee Dee, Cape Fear, Cheraw, and...

. It ended in 1717 with peace treaties between South Carolina
South Carolina
South Carolina is a state in the Deep South of the United States that borders Georgia to the south, North Carolina to the north, and the Atlantic Ocean to the east. Originally part of the Province of Carolina, the Province of South Carolina was one of the 13 colonies that declared independence...

 and the Creek. Hostility and sporadic raids between the Cherokee and Creek continued for decades. These raids came to a head at the Battle of Taliwa
Battle of Taliwa
The Battle of Taliwa was fought in Ball Ground, Georgia in 1755. According to Cherokee folklore, it was mainly fought over land disputed between the Cherokees and Creek, with the Cherokees winning...

 in 1755, present-day Ball Ground, Georgia
Ball Ground, Georgia
Ball Ground is a city in Cherokee County, Georgia, United States. The population was 1433 at the 2010 census.Ball Ground is at the northernmost end of Georgia Interstate 575, north of Canton at exit 20 on I-575, and ending seven miles north at exit 27...

, with the defeat of the Muscogee.

In 1721, the Cherokee ceded lands in South Carolina
South Carolina
South Carolina is a state in the Deep South of the United States that borders Georgia to the south, North Carolina to the north, and the Atlantic Ocean to the east. Originally part of the Province of Carolina, the Province of South Carolina was one of the 13 colonies that declared independence...

. In 1730, at Nikwasi
Nikwasi
Nikwasi was an important Cherokee town located on the Little Tennessee River at the site of present-day Franklin, North Carolina....

, an Englishman, Sir Alexander Cumming convinced Cherokees to crown Moytoy of Tellico as "Emperor." Moytoy agreed to recognize King George II of Great Britain
George II of Great Britain
George II was King of Great Britain and Ireland, Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg and Archtreasurer and Prince-elector of the Holy Roman Empire from 11 June 1727 until his death.George was the last British monarch born outside Great Britain. He was born and brought up in Northern Germany...

 as the Cherokee protector. Seven prominent Cherokee, including Attakullakulla, traveled with Sir Alexander Cuming back to London, England. The Cherokee delegation signed the Treaty of Whitehall
Treaty of Whitehall
The Treaty of Whitehall was signed between Louis XIV of France and James II of England in November 1686 as an agreement that Continental conflict would not disrupt peace and neutrality in New France and New England...

 with the British. Moytoy's son, Amo-sgasite (Dreadful Water) attempted to succeed him as "Emperor" in 1741, but the Cherokees elected their own leader, Cunne Shote (Standing Turkey
Standing Turkey
Standing Turkey — also known as Cunne Shote or Kunagadoga — succeeded his uncle, Kanagatucko, or Old Hop, as First Beloved Man of the Cherokee upon the latter's death in 1760...

) of Chota
Chota (Cherokee town)
Chota is a historic Overhill Cherokee site in Monroe County, Tennessee, in the southeastern United States. For much of its history, Chota was the most important of the Overhill towns, serving as the de facto capital of the Cherokee people from the late 1740s until 1788...

.

Political power among Cherokees remained decentralized and towns acted autonomously. In 1735 the Cherokee were estimated to have sixty-four towns and villages, and 6,000 fighting men. In 1738 and 1739 smallpox
Smallpox
Smallpox was an infectious disease unique to humans, caused by either of two virus variants, Variola major and Variola minor. The disease is also known by the Latin names Variola or Variola vera, which is a derivative of the Latin varius, meaning "spotted", or varus, meaning "pimple"...

 epidemics broke out among the Cherokee, who had no natural immunity. Nearly half their population died within a year. Hundreds of other Cherokee committed suicide due to their losses and disfigurement from the disease.

From 1753 to 1755, battles broke out between the Cherokee and Muscogee over disputed hunting grounds in North Georgia
North Georgia
North Georgia is the hilly to mountainous northern region of the U.S. state of Georgia. At the time of the arrival of settlers from Europe, it was inhabited largely by the Cherokee. The counties of North Georgia were often scenes of important events in the history of Georgia...

. Cherokees were victorious in the Battle of Taliwa. British soldiers built forts in Cherokee country to defend against the French, including Fort Loudoun
Fort Loudoun
Fort Loudoun was the name of three British forts built during the French and Indian War in North America. They were named for John Campbell, 4th Earl of Loudoun.*Fort Loudoun in present-day Monroe County, Tennessee...

 near Chota. In 1756 the Cherokees fought with the British in the French and Indian War
French and Indian War
The French and Indian War is the common American name for the war between Great Britain and France in North America from 1754 to 1763. In 1756, the war erupted into the world-wide conflict known as the Seven Years' War and thus came to be regarded as the North American theater of that war...

. Serious misunderstandings arose quickly between the two allies, resulting in the 1760 Anglo-Cherokee War
Anglo-Cherokee War
The Anglo-Cherokee War , also known as the Cherokee War, the Cherokee Uprising, the Cherokee Rebellion, was a conflict between British forces in North America and Cherokee Indians during the French and Indian War...

. King George III's Royal Proclamation of 1763
Royal Proclamation of 1763
The Royal Proclamation of 1763 was issued October 7, 1763, by King George III following Great Britain's acquisition of French territory in North America after the end of the French and Indian War/Seven Years' War...

 forbade British settlements west of the Appalachian crest, as his government tried to afford some protection from colonial encroachment to the Cherokee. The ruling was difficult to enforce.

In 1771–1772, North Carolinian settlers squatted on Cherokee lands in Tennessee, forming the Watauga Association
Watauga Association
The Watauga Association was a semi-autonomous government created in 1772 by frontier settlers living along the Watauga River in what is now present day Elizabethton, Tennessee...

. Daniel Boone
Daniel Boone
Daniel Boone was an American pioneer, explorer, and frontiersman whose frontier exploits mad']'e him one of the first folk heroes of the United States. Boone is most famous for his exploration and settlement of what is now the Commonwealth of Kentucky, which was then beyond the western borders of...

 and his party tried to settle in Kentucky, but the Shawnee, Delaware
Lenape
The Lenape are an Algonquian group of Native Americans of the Northeastern Woodlands. They are also called Delaware Indians. As a result of the American Revolutionary War and later Indian removals from the eastern United States, today the main groups live in Canada, where they are enrolled in the...

, Mingo
Mingo
The Mingo are an Iroquoian group of Native Americans made up of peoples who migrated west to the Ohio Country in the mid-eighteenth century. Anglo-Americans called these migrants mingos, a corruption of mingwe, an Eastern Algonquian name for Iroquoian-language groups in general. Mingos have also...

, and some Cherokee attacked a scouting and forage party that included Boone’s son. The American Indians used this territory as a hunting ground; it had hardly been inhabited for years. The conflict sparked the beginning of what was known as Dunmore's War
Dunmore's War
Dunmore's War was a war in 1774 between the Colony of Virginia and the Shawnee and Mingo American Indian nations....

 (1773–1774).

In 1776, allied with the Shawnee led by Cornstalk
Cornstalk
Cornstalk was a prominent leader of the Shawnee nation just prior to the American Revolution. His name, Hokoleskwa, translates loosely into "stalk of corn" in English, and is spelled Colesqua in some accounts...

, Cherokee attacked settlers in South Carolina, Georgia, Virginia, and North Carolina in the Second Cherokee War. Overhill Cherokee
Overhill Cherokee
The term Overhill Cherokee refers to the former Cherokee settlements located in what is now Tennessee in the southeastern United States. The name was given by 18th century European traders and explorers who had to cross the Appalachian Mountains to reach these settlements when traveling from...

 Nancy Ward
Nancy Ward
Nanyehi , known in English as Nancy Ward was a Ghigau, or Beloved Woman of the Cherokee Nation, which meant that she was allowed to sit in councils and to make decisions, along with the other Beloved Women, on pardons...

, Dragging Canoe
Dragging Canoe
Tsiyu Gansini , "He is dragging his canoe", known to whites as Dragging Canoe, was a Cherokee war chief who led a band of Cherokee against colonists and United States settlers...

's cousin, warned settlers of impending attacks. Provincial militias retaliated, destroying over 50 Cherokee towns. Invasions by North Carolina in 1776 and 1780 destroyed the Overhill towns
Overhill Cherokee
The term Overhill Cherokee refers to the former Cherokee settlements located in what is now Tennessee in the southeastern United States. The name was given by 18th century European traders and explorers who had to cross the Appalachian Mountains to reach these settlements when traveling from...

. In 1777 surviving Cherokee town leaders signed treaties with the states.

Dragging Canoe and his band moved near present-day Chattanooga, Tennessee
Chattanooga, Tennessee
Chattanooga is the fourth-largest city in the US state of Tennessee , with a population of 169,887. It is the seat of Hamilton County...

, where they established 11 new towns. Chickamauga was his headquarters and his entire band became known as the Chickamaugas. From here he fought a guerrilla war against settlers, the Chickamauga Wars (1776–1794). The first Treaty of Tellico Blockhouse
Tellico Blockhouse
The Tellico Blockhouse was an early American outpost located along the Little Tennessee River in Vonore, Monroe County, Tennessee. Completed in 1794, the blockhouse operated until 1807 with the purpose of keeping the peace between nearby Overhill Cherokee towns and early Euro-American settlers in...

, signed 7 November 1794, ended the Chickamauga Wars. In 1805, the Cherokee ceded their lands between the Cumberland
Cumberland River
The Cumberland River is a waterway in the Southern United States. It is long. It starts in Harlan County in far southeastern Kentucky between Pine and Cumberland mountains, flows through southern Kentucky, crosses into northern Tennessee, and then curves back up into western Kentucky before...

 and Duck River
Duck River (Tennessee)
The Duck River, long, is the longest river located entirely within the U.S. state of Tennessee. Free flowing for most of its length, the Duck River is home to over 50 species of freshwater mussels and 151 species of fish, making it one of the most biologically diverse rivers in North America.The...

s (i.e. the Cumberland Plateau
Cumberland Plateau
The Cumberland Plateau is the southern part of the Appalachian Plateau. It includes much of eastern Kentucky and western West Virginia, part of Tennessee, and a small portion of northern Alabama and northwest Georgia . The terms "Allegheny Plateau" and the "Cumberland Plateau" both refer to the...

) to Tennessee
Tennessee
Tennessee is a U.S. state located in the Southeastern United States. It has a population of 6,346,105, making it the nation's 17th-largest state by population, and covers , making it the 36th-largest by total land area...

.

Acculturation


The Cherokee lands between the Tennessee
Tennessee River
The Tennessee River is the largest tributary of the Ohio River. It is approximately 652 miles long and is located in the southeastern United States in the Tennessee Valley. The river was once popularly known as the Cherokee River, among other names...

 and Chattahoochee River
Chattahoochee River
The Chattahoochee River flows through or along the borders of the U.S. states of Georgia, Alabama, and Florida. It is a tributary of the Apalachicola River, a relatively short river formed by the confluence of the Chattahoochee and Flint Rivers and emptying into Apalachicola Bay in the Gulf of...

s were remote enough from white settlers to remain independent after the Chickamauga Wars
Chickamauga wars
The Chickamauga Wars were a series of raids, campaigns, ambushes, minor skirmishes, and several full-scale frontier battles which were a continuation of the Cherokee struggle against encroachment by American frontiersmen from the former British colonies...

. The deerskin trade
Deerskin trade
The deerskin trade between Colonial America and the Native Americans was one of the most important trading relationships between Europeans and Native Americans, especially in the southeast. It was a form of the fur trade, but less known, since deer skins were not as valuable as furs from the north...

 was no longer feasible on their greatly reduced lands, and over the next several decades the people of the fledgling Cherokee Nation
Cherokee Nation (19th century)
The Cherokee Nation of the 19th century —an historic entity —was a legal, autonomous, tribal government in North America existing from 1794–1906. Often referred to simply as The Nation by its inhabitants, it should not be confused with what is known today as the "modern" Cherokee Nation...

 built a new society modeled on the white Southern United States
Southern United States
The Southern United States—commonly referred to as the American South, Dixie, or simply the South—constitutes a large distinctive area in the southeastern and south-central United States...

.
George Washington
George Washington
George Washington was the dominant military and political leader of the new United States of America from 1775 to 1799. He led the American victory over Great Britain in the American Revolutionary War as commander-in-chief of the Continental Army from 1775 to 1783, and presided over the writing of...

 sought to 'civilize' Southeastern American Indians, through programs overseen by Indian Agent
Indian agent
In United States history, an Indian agent was an individual authorized to interact with Native American tribes on behalf of the U.S. government.-Indian agents:*Leander Clark was agent for the Sac and Fox in Iowa beginning in 1866....

 Benjamin Hawkins
Benjamin Hawkins
Benjamin Hawkins was an American planter, statesman, and United States Indian agent . He was a delegate to the Continental Congress and a United States Senator from North Carolina, having grown up among the planter elite...

. U.S. agents convinced them to abandon their communal land-tenure and settle on isolated farmsteads, facilitated by the destruction of many American Indian towns during the American Revolutionary War
American Revolutionary War
The American Revolutionary War , the American War of Independence, or simply the Revolutionary War, began as a war between the Kingdom of Great Britain and thirteen British colonies in North America, and ended in a global war between several European great powers.The war was the result of the...

. The deerskin trade
Deerskin trade
The deerskin trade between Colonial America and the Native Americans was one of the most important trading relationships between Europeans and Native Americans, especially in the southeast. It was a form of the fur trade, but less known, since deer skins were not as valuable as furs from the north...

 brought white-tailed deer
White-tailed Deer
The white-tailed deer , also known as the Virginia deer or simply as the whitetail, is a medium-sized deer native to the United States , Canada, Mexico, Central America, and South America as far south as Peru...

 to the brink of extinction, and as pigs and cattle were introduced, they became the principal sources of meat. The tribes were supplied with spinning wheel
Spinning wheel
A spinning wheel is a device for spinning thread or yarn from natural or synthetic fibers. Spinning wheels appeared in Asia, probably in the 11th century, and very gradually replaced hand spinning with spindle and distaff...

s and cotton-seed, men were taught to fence and plow the land, in contrast with traditional division where farming was woman's labor, women were instructed in weaving; blacksmiths, gristmills and eventually cotton plantations were established.

The Cherokees organized a national government under Principal Chiefs Little Turkey
Little Turkey
Little Turkey was elected First Beloved Man by the general council of the Cherokee upon the move of the council's seat to Ustanali on the Conasauga River following the murder of Corntassel in 1788...

 (1788–1801), Black Fox (1801–1811), Pathkiller
Pathkiller
Pathkiller, , fought in the Revolutionary War for Britain, then in the Chickamauga Wars against American frontiersmen . He was the Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation from 1811-1827. Pathkiller, a fullblood, "unacculturated" Cherokee, was the last individual from a conservative background to...

 (1811–1827), all former warriors of Dragging Canoe
Dragging Canoe
Tsiyu Gansini , "He is dragging his canoe", known to whites as Dragging Canoe, was a Cherokee war chief who led a band of Cherokee against colonists and United States settlers...

. The 'Cherokee triumvirate' of James Vann
James Vann
James Vann was an influential Cherokee leader, one of the triumvirate with Major Ridge and Charles R. Hicks, who led the Upper Towns of East Tennessee and North Georgia. He was the son of Wah-Li Vann, a mixed-race Cherokee woman, and a Scots fur trader...

 and his protégés The Ridge
Major Ridge
Major Ridge, The Ridge was a Cherokee Indian member of the tribal council, a lawmaker, and a leader. He was a veteran of the Chickamauga Wars, the Creek War, and the First Seminole War.Along with Charles R...

 and Charles R. Hicks
Charles R. Hicks
Charles Renatus Hicks was one of the most important Cherokee leaders in the early 19th century; together with James Vann and Major Ridge, he was one of a triumvirate of younger chiefs urging the tribe to acculturate to European-American ways and supported a Moravian mission school to educate the...

 advocated acculturation, formal education, and modern methods of farming. In 1801 they invited Moravian missionaries from North Carolina
North Carolina
North Carolina is a state located in the southeastern United States. The state borders South Carolina and Georgia to the south, Tennessee to the west and Virginia to the north. North Carolina contains 100 counties. Its capital is Raleigh, and its largest city is Charlotte...

 to teach Christianity and the 'arts of civilized life.' The Moravians and later Congregationalist missionaries ran boarding schools, and a select few students were educated at the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions
American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions
The American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions was the first American Christian foreign mission agency. It was proposed in 1810 by recent graduates of Williams College and officially chartered in 1812. In 1961 it merged with other societies to form the United Church Board for World...

 school in Connecticut
Connecticut
Connecticut is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States. It is bordered by Rhode Island to the east, Massachusetts to the north, and the state of New York to the west and the south .Connecticut is named for the Connecticut River, the major U.S. river that approximately...

.

In 1806 a Federal Road
Federal Road (Cherokee lands)
The Federal Road, originally called Georgia Road, was a federal toll highway passing through the Cherokee Nation in the northern part of the U.S. state of Georgia. From 1805 to the 1840s, the road linked Savannah, Georgia with Knoxville, Tennessee...

 from Savannah, Georgia
Savannah, Georgia
Savannah is the largest city and the county seat of Chatham County, in the U.S. state of Georgia. Established in 1733, the city of Savannah was the colonial capital of the Province of Georgia and later the first state capital of Georgia. Today Savannah is an industrial center and an important...

 to Knoxville, Tennessee
Knoxville, Tennessee
Founded in 1786, Knoxville is the third-largest city in the U.S. state of Tennessee, U.S.A., behind Memphis and Nashville, and is the county seat of Knox County. It is the largest city in East Tennessee, and the second-largest city in the Appalachia region...

 was built through Cherokee land. Chief James Vann
James Vann
James Vann was an influential Cherokee leader, one of the triumvirate with Major Ridge and Charles R. Hicks, who led the Upper Towns of East Tennessee and North Georgia. He was the son of Wah-Li Vann, a mixed-race Cherokee woman, and a Scots fur trader...

 opened a tavern, inn and ferry across the Chattahoochee
Chattahoochee River
The Chattahoochee River flows through or along the borders of the U.S. states of Georgia, Alabama, and Florida. It is a tributary of the Apalachicola River, a relatively short river formed by the confluence of the Chattahoochee and Flint Rivers and emptying into Apalachicola Bay in the Gulf of...

 and built a cotton-plantation
Chief Vann House Historic Site
The Chief Vann House is the first brick residence in the Cherokee Nation that has been called the "Showplace of the Cherokee Nation". Owned by a Cherokee chief named Chief James Vann, The Vann House is a Georgia Historic Site on the National Register of Historic Places and one of the oldest...

 on a spur of the road from Athens, Georgia
Athens, Georgia
Athens-Clarke County is a consolidated city–county in U.S. state of Georgia, in the northeastern part of the state, comprising the former City of Athens proper and Clarke County. The University of Georgia is located in this college town and is responsible for the initial growth of the city...

 to Nashville. His son 'Rich Joe' Vann
Joseph Vann
Joseph H. Vann was a Cherokee leader who owned Diamond Hill , many slaves, taverns, and steamboats that he operated on the Arkansas, Mississippi, Ohio, and Tennessee Rivers. He born at Spring Place, Georgia on February 11, 1798...

 grew the plantation to 800 acres (3.2 km²) and 150 slaves, exporting cotton to England, and owning a steamboat on the Tennessee River
Tennessee River
The Tennessee River is the largest tributary of the Ohio River. It is approximately 652 miles long and is located in the southeastern United States in the Tennessee Valley. The river was once popularly known as the Cherokee River, among other names...

. The Cherokee allied with the U.S. against the nativist and pro-British Red Stick faction of the Upper Creeks in the Creek War
Creek War
The Creek War , also known as the Red Stick War and the Creek Civil War, began as a civil war within the Creek nation...

 during the War of 1812
War of 1812
The War of 1812 was a military conflict fought between the forces of the United States of America and those of the British Empire. The Americans declared war in 1812 for several reasons, including trade restrictions because of Britain's ongoing war with France, impressment of American merchant...

, and Cherokee warriors led by Major Ridge
Major Ridge
Major Ridge, The Ridge was a Cherokee Indian member of the tribal council, a lawmaker, and a leader. He was a veteran of the Chickamauga Wars, the Creek War, and the First Seminole War.Along with Charles R...

 played a major role in General Andrew Jackson
Andrew Jackson
Andrew Jackson was the seventh President of the United States . Based in frontier Tennessee, Jackson was a politician and army general who defeated the Creek Indians at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend , and the British at the Battle of New Orleans...

's victory at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend. Major Ride built a plantation
Chieftains (Rome, Georgia)
Chieftains, also known as the Major Ridge Home, is a two-story dogtrot house built in 1792 in Cherokee country...

 and ran a ferry on the Oostanaula River
Oostanaula River
The Oostanaula River is a principal tributary of the Coosa River, about long, in northwestern Georgia in the United States. Via the Coosa and Alabama rivers, it is part of the watershed of the Mobile River, which flows to the Gulf of Mexico. Its name is said to come from a Cherokee Indian term...

, and, although he never learned English, educated his son and nephews in New England mission schools. His translator and protégé Chief John Ross
John Ross (Cherokee chief)
John Ross , also known as Guwisguwi , was Principal Chief of the Cherokee Native American Nation from 1828–1866...

, descendant of several generations of Scottish fur-traders, built a plantation and operated a trading firm and a ferry at Ross' Landing (Chattanooga, Tennessee
Chattanooga, Tennessee
Chattanooga is the fourth-largest city in the US state of Tennessee , with a population of 169,887. It is the seat of Hamilton County...

). During this period, divisions arose between the acculturated elite and the great majority of Cherokee, who clung to traditional ways of life.

Around 1809 Sequoyah
Sequoyah
Sequoyah , named in English George Gist or George Guess, was a Cherokee silversmith. In 1821 he completed his independent creation of a Cherokee syllabary, making reading and writing in Cherokee possible...

 began developing a written form of the Cherokee language. He spoke no English, but his experiences as a silversmith dealing regularly with white settlers and a warrior at Horseshoe Bend convinced him the Cherokee needed to develop writing. In 1821, he introduced Cherokee syllabary
Cherokee syllabary
The Cherokee syllabary is a syllabary invented by Sequoyah to write the Cherokee language in the late 1810s and early 1820s. His creation of the syllabary is particularly noteworthy in that he could not previously read any script. He first experimented with logograms, but his system later developed...

, the first written syllabic form of an American Indian language outside of Central America, although this innovation met with initial opposition from both Cherokee traditionalists and white missionaries who sought to encourage the use of English.

In 1819, the Cherokee began holding council meetings at New Town, at the headwaters of the Oostanaula
Oostanaula River
The Oostanaula River is a principal tributary of the Coosa River, about long, in northwestern Georgia in the United States. Via the Coosa and Alabama rivers, it is part of the watershed of the Mobile River, which flows to the Gulf of Mexico. Its name is said to come from a Cherokee Indian term...

 (near present-day Calhoun, Georgia
Calhoun, Georgia
Calhoun is a city in Gordon County, Georgia, United States. As of the 2010 census, the city had a population of 15,650. The city is the county seat of Gordon County.-Geography:Calhoun is located at , along the Oostanaula River....

). In November 1825, New Town became the capital of the Cherokee Nation, and was renamed New Echota
New Echota
New Echota was the capital of the Cherokee Nation prior to their forced removal in the 1830s. New Echota is 3.68 miles north of present-day Calhoun, Georgia, and south of Resaca, Georgia. The site is a state park and an historic site....

, after the Overhill Cherokee
Overhill Cherokee
The term Overhill Cherokee refers to the former Cherokee settlements located in what is now Tennessee in the southeastern United States. The name was given by 18th century European traders and explorers who had to cross the Appalachian Mountains to reach these settlements when traveling from...

 principal town of Chota
Chota (Cherokee town)
Chota is a historic Overhill Cherokee site in Monroe County, Tennessee, in the southeastern United States. For much of its history, Chota was the most important of the Overhill towns, serving as the de facto capital of the Cherokee people from the late 1740s until 1788...

. Sequoyah's syllabic alphabet was adopted, and, in 1827, the Cherokee Nation drafted a Constitution modeled on the United States, with executive, legislative and judicial branches and a system of checks and balances. The two-tiered legislature was led by Major Ridge and his son John Ridge
John Ridge
John Ridge, born Skah-tle-loh-skee , was from a prominent family of the Cherokee Nation, then located in present-day Georgia. He married Sarah Bird Northup, of a New England family, whom he had met while studying at the Foreign Mission School in Cornwall, Connecticut...

. Convinced the tribes survival required English-speaking leaders who could negotiate with the U.S., the legislature appointed John Ross
John Ross (Cherokee chief)
John Ross , also known as Guwisguwi , was Principal Chief of the Cherokee Native American Nation from 1828–1866...

 as Principal Chief. A printing press was established at New Echota by Vermont
Vermont
Vermont is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States of America. The state ranks 43rd in land area, , and 45th in total area. Its population according to the 2010 census, 630,337, is the second smallest in the country, larger only than Wyoming. It is the only New England...

 missionary Samuel Worcester
Samuel Worcester
Samuel Austin Worcester , was a missionary to the Cherokee, translator of the Bible, printer and defender of the Cherokee's sovereignty. He was a party in Worcester v...

 and Major Ridge's nephew Elias Boudinot
Elias Boudinot (Cherokee)
Elias Boudinot , was a member of an important Cherokee family in present-day Georgia. They believed that rapid acculturation was critical to Cherokee survival. In 1828 Boudinot became the editor of the Cherokee Phoenix, which was published in Cherokee and English...

, who had taken the name of his white benefactor
Elias Boudinot
Elias Boudinot was a lawyer and statesman from Elizabeth, New Jersey who was a delegate to the Continental Congress and a U.S. Congressman for New Jersey...

, a leader of the Continental Congress
Continental Congress
The Continental Congress was a convention of delegates called together from the Thirteen Colonies that became the governing body of the United States during the American Revolution....

 and New Jersey
New Jersey
New Jersey is a state in the Northeastern and Middle Atlantic regions of the United States. , its population was 8,791,894. It is bordered on the north and east by the state of New York, on the southeast and south by the Atlantic Ocean, on the west by Pennsylvania and on the southwest by Delaware...

 Congressman. The Bible was translated into Cherokee syllabary
Cherokee syllabary
The Cherokee syllabary is a syllabary invented by Sequoyah to write the Cherokee language in the late 1810s and early 1820s. His creation of the syllabary is particularly noteworthy in that he could not previously read any script. He first experimented with logograms, but his system later developed...

 and the first edition of the bilingual 'Cherokee Phoenix
Cherokee Phoenix
The Cherokee Phoenix was the first newspaper published by Native Americans in the United States and the first published in a Native American language. The first issue was published in English and Cherokee on February 21, 1828, in New Echota, capital of the Cherokee Nation . The paper continued...

,' the first American Indian newspaper, was published in February 1828.

Removal era




Before the final removal to present-day Oklahoma, many Cherokees relocated to present-day Arkansas
Arkansas
Arkansas is a state located in the southern region of the United States. Its name is an Algonquian name of the Quapaw Indians. Arkansas shares borders with six states , and its eastern border is largely defined by the Mississippi River...

, Missouri
Missouri
Missouri is a US state located in the Midwestern United States, bordered by Iowa, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska. With a 2010 population of 5,988,927, Missouri is the 18th most populous state in the nation and the fifth most populous in the Midwest. It...

 and Texas
Texas
Texas is the second largest U.S. state by both area and population, and the largest state by area in the contiguous United States.The name, based on the Caddo word "Tejas" meaning "friends" or "allies", was applied by the Spanish to the Caddo themselves and to the region of their settlement in...

. Between 1775 and 1786 the Cherokee, along with people of other nations such as the Choctaw
Choctaw
The Choctaw are a Native American people originally from the Southeastern United States...

s and Chickasaw
Chickasaw
The Chickasaw are Native American people originally from the region that would become the Southeastern United States...

s, began voluntarily settling along the Arkansas
Arkansas River
The Arkansas River is a major tributary of the Mississippi River. The Arkansas generally flows to the east and southeast as it traverses the U.S. states of Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas. The river's initial basin starts in the Western United States in Colorado, specifically the Arkansas...

 and Red Rivers.

In 1802, the federal government promised to extinguish Indian titles to lands claimed by Georgia
Georgia (U.S. state)
Georgia is a state located in the southeastern United States. It was established in 1732, the last of the original Thirteen Colonies. The state is named after King George II of Great Britain. Georgia was the fourth state to ratify the United States Constitution, on January 2, 1788...

 in return for Georgia's cession of the western lands that became Alabama
Alabama
Alabama is a state located in the southeastern region of the United States. It is bordered by Tennessee to the north, Georgia to the east, Florida and the Gulf of Mexico to the south, and Mississippi to the west. Alabama ranks 30th in total land area and ranks second in the size of its inland...

 and Mississippi
Mississippi
Mississippi is a U.S. state located in the Southern United States. Jackson is the state capital and largest city. The name of the state derives from the Mississippi River, which flows along its western boundary, whose name comes from the Ojibwe word misi-ziibi...

. To convince the Cherokee to move voluntarily in 1815, the US government established a Cherokee Reservation in Arkansas. The reservation boundaries extended from north of the Arkansas River
Arkansas River
The Arkansas River is a major tributary of the Mississippi River. The Arkansas generally flows to the east and southeast as it traverses the U.S. states of Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas. The river's initial basin starts in the Western United States in Colorado, specifically the Arkansas...

 to the southern bank of the White River
White River (Arkansas)
The White River is a 722-mile long river that flows through the U.S. states of Arkansas and Missouri.-Course:The source of the White River is in the Boston Mountains of northwest Arkansas, in the Ozark-St. Francis National Forest southeast of Fayetteville...

. Di'wali
The Bowl (Cherokee chief)
The Bowl was one of the leaders of the Chickamauga Cherokee under Dragging Canoe who fought against the United States of America during the Chickamauga wars...

 (The Bowl), Sequoyah
Sequoyah
Sequoyah , named in English George Gist or George Guess, was a Cherokee silversmith. In 1821 he completed his independent creation of a Cherokee syllabary, making reading and writing in Cherokee possible...

, Spring Frog and Tatsi (Dutch) and their bands settled there. These Cherokees became known as "Old Settlers."

The Cherokee eventually migrated as far north as the Missouri Bootheel
Bootheel
The Missouri Bootheel is the southeasternmost part of the state of Missouri, extending south of 36°30’ north latitude, so called because its shape in relation to the rest of the state resembles the heel of a boot. Strictly speaking, it is composed of the counties of Dunklin, New Madrid, and Pemiscot...

 by 1816. They lived interspersed among the Delawares
Delaware Nation
The Delaware Nation, sometimes called the Absentee or Western Delaware, is one of two federally recognized tribe of Delaware Indians, along with the Delaware Indians based in Bartlesville, Oklahoma...

 and Shawnee
Shawnee
The Shawnee, Shaawanwaki, Shaawanooki and Shaawanowi lenaweeki, are an Algonquian-speaking people native to North America. Historically they inhabited the areas of Ohio, Virginia, West Virginia, Western Maryland, Kentucky, Indiana, and Pennsylvania...

s of that area. The Cherokee in Missouri Territory
Missouri Territory
The Territory of Missouri was an organized incorporated territory of the United States that existed from June 4, 1812 until August 10, 1821, when the southeastern portion of the territory was admitted to the Union as the State of Missouri.-History:...

 increased rapidly in population, from 1,000 to 6,000 over the next year (1816–1817) according to reports by Governor William Clark. Increased conflicts with the Osage Nation
Osage Nation
The Osage Nation is a Native American Siouan-language tribe in the United States that originated in the Ohio River valley in present-day Kentucky. After years of war with invading Iroquois, the Osage migrated west of the Mississippi River to their historic lands in present-day Arkansas, Missouri,...

 led to the Battle of Claremore Mound
Battle of Claremore Mound
The Battle of Claremore Mound, also known as the Battle of the Strawberry Moon or the Claremore Mound Massacre, was one of the chief battles of the war between the Osage and Cherokee Indians...

 and the eventual establishment of Fort Smith
Fort Smith, Arkansas
Fort Smith is the second-largest city in Arkansas and one of the two county seats of Sebastian County. With a population of 86,209 in 2010, it is the principal city of the Fort Smith, Arkansas-Oklahoma Metropolitan Statistical Area, a region of 298,592 residents which encompasses the Arkansas...

 between Cherokee and Osage communities. In the Treaty of St. Louis
Treaty of St. Louis
The Treaty of St. Louis is one of many treaties signed between the United States and various Native American tribes.-1804 - Sauk and Fox :...

 (1825) the Osage were made to "cede and relinquish to the United States, all their right, title, interest, and claim, to lands lying within the State of Missouri and Territory of Arkansas..." to make room for the Cherokee and the Mashcoux, Muscogee Creeks. As late as the winter of 1838, Cherokee and Creek living in the Missouri and Arkansas areas petitioned the War Department to remove the Osage from the area.

A group of Cherokee traditionalists led by Di'wali
The Bowl (Cherokee chief)
The Bowl was one of the leaders of the Chickamauga Cherokee under Dragging Canoe who fought against the United States of America during the Chickamauga wars...

 moved to Spanish Texas
Spanish Texas
Spanish Texas was one of the interior provinces of New Spain from 1690 until 1821. Although Spain claimed ownership of the territory, which comprised part of modern-day Texas, including the land north of the Medina and Nueces Rivers, the Spanish did not attempt to colonize the area until after...

 in 1819. Settling near Nacogdoches
Nacogdoches, Texas
Nacogdoches is a city in Nacogdoches County, Texas, in the United States. The 2010 census recorded the city's population to be 32,996. It is the county seat of Nacogdoches County and is situated in East Texas. Nacogdoches is a sister city of Natchitoches, Louisiana.Nacogdoches is the home of...

, they were welcomed by Mexican authorities as potential allies against Anglo-American colonists. The Texas Cherokees
Texas Cherokees
Tsalagiyi Nvdagi is the Cherokee Language term for Texas Cherokees. Prior to the Trail of Tears, some bands of Cherokees fled west to avoid white encroachment.-History:...

 were mostly neutral during the Texas War of Independence. In 1836, they signed a treaty with Texas President Sam Houston
Sam Houston
Samuel Houston, known as Sam Houston , was a 19th-century American statesman, politician, and soldier. He was born in Timber Ridge in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, of Scots-Irish descent. Houston became a key figure in the history of Texas and was elected as the first and third President of...

, an adopted member of the Cherokee tribe. His successor Mirabeau Lamar sent militia to evict them in 1839.
Trail of Tears


During the first decades of the 19th century, Georgia focused on removing the Cherokee's neighbors, the Lower Creek. The Georgia Governor George Troup
George Troup
George Michael Troup was an American politician from the U.S. state of Georgia. He served in the Georgia General Assembly, U.S. House of Representatives, and Senate before becoming the 32nd Governor of Georgia for two terms and then returning to the Senate...

 and his cousin [William McIntosh]], chief of the Lower Creek, signed the Treaty of Indian Springs
Treaty of Indian Springs
There are two Treaties of Indian Springs with the Creek Indians. The first treaty was signed January 8, 1821. In it, the Lower Creek ceded land to the state of Georgia in return for cash payments totaling $200,000 over a period of 14 years...

 (1825), ceding the last Muscogee (Creek) lands claimed by Georgia. The state's northwestern border reached the Chattahoochee
Chattahoochee River
The Chattahoochee River flows through or along the borders of the U.S. states of Georgia, Alabama, and Florida. It is a tributary of the Apalachicola River, a relatively short river formed by the confluence of the Chattahoochee and Flint Rivers and emptying into Apalachicola Bay in the Gulf of...

, the border of the Cherokee Nation. In 1829, gold was discovered at Dahlonega
Dahlonega, Georgia
Dahlonega is a city in Lumpkin County, Georgia, United States, and is its county seat. As of the 2010 census, the city had a population of 5,242....

, on Cherokee land claimed by Georgia. The Georgia Gold Rush
Georgia Gold Rush
The Georgia Gold Rush was the second significant gold rush in the United States. It started in 1828 in the present day Lumpkin County near county seat Dahlonega, and soon spread through the North Georgia mountains, following the Georgia Gold Belt. By the early 1840s, gold became harder to find...

 was the first in U.S. history, and state officials demanded that the federal government expel the Cherokee. When Andrew Jackson
Andrew Jackson
Andrew Jackson was the seventh President of the United States . Based in frontier Tennessee, Jackson was a politician and army general who defeated the Creek Indians at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend , and the British at the Battle of New Orleans...

 was inaugurated as President in 1829, Georgia gained a strong ally in Washington
Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington, "the District", or simply D.C., is the capital of the United States. On July 16, 1790, the United States Congress approved the creation of a permanent national capital as permitted by the U.S. Constitution....

. In 1830 Congress passed the Indian Removal Act
Indian Removal Act
The Indian Removal Act was signed into law by President Andrew Jackson on May 28, 1830.The Removal Act was strongly supported in the South, where states were eager to gain access to lands inhabited by the Five Civilized Tribes. In particular, Georgia, the largest state at that time, was involved in...

, authorizing the forcible relocation of American Indians east of the Mississippi
Mississippi River
The Mississippi River is the largest river system in North America. Flowing entirely in the United States, this river rises in western Minnesota and meanders slowly southwards for to the Mississippi River Delta at the Gulf of Mexico. With its many tributaries, the Mississippi's watershed drains...

 to a new Indian Territory
Indian Territory
The Indian Territory, also known as the Indian Territories and the Indian Country, was land set aside within the United States for the settlement of American Indians...

.

Andrew Jackson
Andrew Jackson
Andrew Jackson was the seventh President of the United States . Based in frontier Tennessee, Jackson was a politician and army general who defeated the Creek Indians at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend , and the British at the Battle of New Orleans...

 said the removal policy was an effort to prevent the Cherokee from facing extinction as a people, which he considered the fate that "the Mohegan
Mohegan
The Mohegan tribe is an Algonquian-speaking tribe that lives in the eastern upper Thames River valley of Connecticut. Mohegan translates to "People of the Wolf". At the time of European contact, the Mohegan and Pequot were one people, historically living in the lower Connecticut region...

, the Narragansett, and the Delaware
Lenape
The Lenape are an Algonquian group of Native Americans of the Northeastern Woodlands. They are also called Delaware Indians. As a result of the American Revolutionary War and later Indian removals from the eastern United States, today the main groups live in Canada, where they are enrolled in the...

" had suffered. But, there is ample evidence that the Cherokee were adapting modern farming techniques. A modern analysis shows that the area was in general in a state of economic surplus and could have accommodated both the Cherokee and new settlers.

The Cherokee brought their grievances to a US judicial review that set a precedent in Indian Country
Indian Country
Indian country is a term used to describe the many self-governing Native American communities throughout the United States. This usage is reflected in many places, both legal and colloquial...

. John Ross traveled to Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington, "the District", or simply D.C., is the capital of the United States. On July 16, 1790, the United States Congress approved the creation of a permanent national capital as permitted by the U.S. Constitution....

, and won support from National Republican Party leaders Henry Clay
Henry Clay
Henry Clay, Sr. , was a lawyer, politician and skilled orator who represented Kentucky separately in both the Senate and in the House of Representatives...

 and Daniel Webster
Daniel Webster
Daniel Webster was a leading American statesman and senator from Massachusetts during the period leading up to the Civil War. He first rose to regional prominence through his defense of New England shipping interests...

. Samuel Worcester
Samuel Worcester
Samuel Austin Worcester , was a missionary to the Cherokee, translator of the Bible, printer and defender of the Cherokee's sovereignty. He was a party in Worcester v...

 campaigned on behalf of the Cherokee in New England, where their cause was taken up by Ralph Waldo Emerson
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Ralph Waldo Emerson was an American essayist, lecturer, and poet, who led the Transcendentalist movement of the mid-19th century...

. In June 1830, a delegation led by Chief Ross defended Cherokee rights before the U.S. Supreme Court in Cherokee Nation v. Georgia
Cherokee Nation v. Georgia
Cherokee Nation v. Georgia, , was a United States Supreme Court case. The Cherokee Nation sought a federal injunction against laws passed by the state of Georgia depriving them of rights within its boundaries, but the Supreme Court did not hear the case on its merits...

.

In 1831 Georgia militia arrested Samuel Worcester
Samuel Worcester
Samuel Austin Worcester , was a missionary to the Cherokee, translator of the Bible, printer and defender of the Cherokee's sovereignty. He was a party in Worcester v...

 for residing on Indian lands without a state permit, imprisoning him in Milledgeville
Milledgeville, Georgia
Milledgeville is a city in and the county seat of Baldwin County in the U.S. state of Georgia. It is northeast of Macon, located just before Eatonton on the way to Athens along U.S. Highway 441, and it is located on the Oconee River. The relatively rapid current of the Oconee here made this an...

. In Worcester v. Georgia
Worcester v. Georgia
Worcester v. Georgia, 31 U.S. 515 , was a case in which the United States Supreme Court vacated the conviction of Samuel Worcester and held that the Georgia criminal statute that prohibited non-Indians from being present on Indian lands without a license from the state was unconstitutional.The...

(1832), the US Supreme Court
Supreme Court of the United States
The Supreme Court of the United States is the highest court in the United States. It has ultimate appellate jurisdiction over all state and federal courts, and original jurisdiction over a small range of cases...

 Chief Justice
Chief Justice
The Chief Justice in many countries is the name for the presiding member of a Supreme Court in Commonwealth or other countries with an Anglo-Saxon justice system based on English common law, such as the Supreme Court of Canada, the Constitutional Court of South Africa, the Court of Final Appeal of...

 John Marshall
John Marshall
John Marshall was the Chief Justice of the United States whose court opinions helped lay the basis for American constitutional law and made the Supreme Court of the United States a coequal branch of government along with the legislative and executive branches...

 ruled that American Indian nations were "distinct, independent political communities retaining their original natural rights," and entitled to federal protection from the actions of state governments that infringed on their sovereignty
Sovereignty
Sovereignty is the quality of having supreme, independent authority over a geographic area, such as a territory. It can be found in a power to rule and make law that rests on a political fact for which no purely legal explanation can be provided...

. Worcester v. Georgia is considered one of the most important dicta in law dealing with Native Americans.

Jackson ignored the Supreme Court's ruling, as he needed to conciliate Southern sectionalism during the era of the Nullification Crisis
Nullification Crisis
The Nullification Crisis was a sectional crisis during the presidency of Andrew Jackson created by South Carolina's 1832 Ordinance of Nullification. This ordinance declared by the power of the State that the federal Tariff of 1828 and 1832 were unconstitutional and therefore null and void within...

. His landslide reelection in 1832 emboldened calls for Cherokee removal. Georgia sold Cherokee lands to its citizens in a Land Lottery
Georgia Land Lottery
The Georgia land lotteries were an early nineteenth century system of land distribution in Georgia. Under this system, qualifying citizens could register for a chance to win lots of land that had formerly belonged to the Creek Indians and the Cherokee Nation. The lottery system was utilized by the...

, and the state militia occupied New Echota
New Echota
New Echota was the capital of the Cherokee Nation prior to their forced removal in the 1830s. New Echota is 3.68 miles north of present-day Calhoun, Georgia, and south of Resaca, Georgia. The site is a state park and an historic site....

. The Cherokee National Council, led by John Ross, fled to Red Clay
Red Clay State Park
Red Clay State Historic Park is located in southern Bradley County in Cleveland, Tennessee. The park is also listed as an interpretive center along the Cherokee Trail of Tears...

, a remote valley north of Georgia's land claim. Ross had the support of Cherokee traditionalists, who could not imagine removal from their ancestral lands.

A small group known as the "Ridge Party" or the "Treaty Party" saw relocation as inevitable and believed the Cherokee Nation needed to make the best deal to preserve their rights in Indian Territory. Led by Major Ridge
Major Ridge
Major Ridge, The Ridge was a Cherokee Indian member of the tribal council, a lawmaker, and a leader. He was a veteran of the Chickamauga Wars, the Creek War, and the First Seminole War.Along with Charles R...

, John Ridge
John Ridge
John Ridge, born Skah-tle-loh-skee , was from a prominent family of the Cherokee Nation, then located in present-day Georgia. He married Sarah Bird Northup, of a New England family, whom he had met while studying at the Foreign Mission School in Cornwall, Connecticut...

 and Elias Boudinot
Elias Boudinot (Cherokee)
Elias Boudinot , was a member of an important Cherokee family in present-day Georgia. They believed that rapid acculturation was critical to Cherokee survival. In 1828 Boudinot became the editor of the Cherokee Phoenix, which was published in Cherokee and English...

, they represented the Cherokee elite, whose homes, plantations and businesses were confiscated, or under threat of being taken by white squatters with Georgia land-titles. With capital to acquire new lands, they were more inclined to accept relocation. On December 29, 1835, the "Ridge Party" signed the Treaty of New Echota
Treaty of New Echota
The Treaty of New Echota was a treaty signed on December 29, 1835, in New Echota, Georgia by officials of the United States government and representatives of a minority Cherokee political faction, known as the Treaty Party...

, stipulating terms and conditions for the removal of the Cherokee Nation. In return for their lands, the Cherokee were promised a large tract in the Indian Territory
Indian Territory
The Indian Territory, also known as the Indian Territories and the Indian Country, was land set aside within the United States for the settlement of American Indians...

, $5 million, and $300,000 for improvements on their new lands.

John Ross gathered over 15,000 signatures for a petition to the U.S. Senate, insisting that the treaty was invalid because it did not have the support of the majority of the Cherokee people. The Senate passed the Treaty of New Echota by a one-vote margin. It was enacted into law in May 1836.

Two years later President Martin Van Buren
Martin Van Buren
Martin Van Buren was the eighth President of the United States . Before his presidency, he was the eighth Vice President and the tenth Secretary of State, under Andrew Jackson ....

 ordered 7,000 Federal troops and state militia under General Winfield Scott
Winfield Scott
Winfield Scott was a United States Army general, and unsuccessful presidential candidate of the Whig Party in 1852....

 into Cherokee lands to evict the tribe. Over 16,000 Cherokee were forcibly relocated westward to Indian Territory
Indian Territory
The Indian Territory, also known as the Indian Territories and the Indian Country, was land set aside within the United States for the settlement of American Indians...

 in 1838–1839, a migration known as the Trail of Tears
Trail of Tears
The Trail of Tears is a name given to the forced relocation and movement of Native American nations from southeastern parts of the United States following the Indian Removal Act of 1830...

 or in Cherokee or (The Trail Where They Cried), although it is described by another word (The Removal). Marched over 800 miles (1,287.5 km) across Tennessee
Tennessee
Tennessee is a U.S. state located in the Southeastern United States. It has a population of 6,346,105, making it the nation's 17th-largest state by population, and covers , making it the 36th-largest by total land area...

, Kentucky
Kentucky
The Commonwealth of Kentucky is a state located in the East Central United States of America. As classified by the United States Census Bureau, Kentucky is a Southern state, more specifically in the East South Central region. Kentucky is one of four U.S. states constituted as a commonwealth...

, Illinois
Illinois
Illinois is the fifth-most populous state of the United States of America, and is often noted for being a microcosm of the entire country. With Chicago in the northeast, small industrial cities and great agricultural productivity in central and northern Illinois, and natural resources like coal,...

, Missouri
Missouri
Missouri is a US state located in the Midwestern United States, bordered by Iowa, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska. With a 2010 population of 5,988,927, Missouri is the 18th most populous state in the nation and the fifth most populous in the Midwest. It...

 and Arkansas
Arkansas
Arkansas is a state located in the southern region of the United States. Its name is an Algonquian name of the Quapaw Indians. Arkansas shares borders with six states , and its eastern border is largely defined by the Mississippi River...

, the people suffered from disease, exposure and starvation, and as many as 4,000 died. As some Cherokees were slaveholders, they took enslaved
Slavery
Slavery is a system under which people are treated as property to be bought and sold, and are forced to work. Slaves can be held against their will from the time of their capture, purchase or birth, and deprived of the right to leave, to refuse to work, or to demand compensation...

 African Americans with them west of the Mississippi. Intermarried European Americans and missionaries also walked the Trail of Tears. John Ross
John Ross (Cherokee chief)
John Ross , also known as Guwisguwi , was Principal Chief of the Cherokee Native American Nation from 1828–1866...

 preserved a vestige of independence by negotiating for the Cherokee to conduct their own removal under U.S. supervision.

In keeping with the tribe's "blood law" that prescribed the death penalty for Cherokee who sold lands, Ross's son arranged the murder of the leaders of the "Treaty Party". On June 22, 1839, a party of twenty-five Ross supporters assassinated Major Ridge, John Ridge and Elias Boudinot. The party included Daniel Colston, John Vann, Archibald, James and Joseph Spear. Boudinot's brother Stand Watie
Stand Watie
Stand Watie , also known as Standhope Uwatie, Degataga , meaning “stand firm”), and Isaac S. Watie, was a leader of the Cherokee Nation and a brigadier general of the Confederate States Army during the American Civil War...

 fought and survived that day, escaping to Arkansas
Arkansas
Arkansas is a state located in the southern region of the United States. Its name is an Algonquian name of the Quapaw Indians. Arkansas shares borders with six states , and its eastern border is largely defined by the Mississippi River...

.

In 1827, Sequoyah
Sequoyah
Sequoyah , named in English George Gist or George Guess, was a Cherokee silversmith. In 1821 he completed his independent creation of a Cherokee syllabary, making reading and writing in Cherokee possible...

 had led a delegation of Old Settlers to Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington, "the District", or simply D.C., is the capital of the United States. On July 16, 1790, the United States Congress approved the creation of a permanent national capital as permitted by the U.S. Constitution....

 to negotiate for the exchange of Arkansas land for land in Indian Territory. After the Trail of Tears, he helped mediate divisions between the Old Settlers and the rival factions of the more recent arrivals. In 1839, as President of the Western Cherokee, Sequoyah signed an Act of Union with John Ross that reunited the two groups of the Cherokee Nation.
Eastern Band

The Oconaluftee
Oconaluftee (Great Smoky Mountains)
Oconaluftee is the name of a river valley in the Great Smoky Mountains of North Carolina, located in the Southeastern United States. Formerly the site of a Cherokee village and Appalachian community, the valley's bottomland is now home to the main entrance to the North Carolina section of the...

 Cherokee of the Great Smoky Mountains
Great Smoky Mountains
The Great Smoky Mountains are a mountain range rising along the Tennessee–North Carolina border in the southeastern United States. They are a subrange of the Appalachian Mountains, and form part of the Blue Ridge Physiographic Province. The range is sometimes called the Smoky Mountains or the...

 were the most conservative and isolated from European-American settlements. They rejected the reforms of the Cherokee Nation. When the Cherokee government ceded all territory east of the Little Tennessee River
Little Tennessee River
The Little Tennessee River is a tributary of the Tennessee River, approximately 135 miles long, in the Appalachian Mountains in the southeastern United States.-Geography:...

 to North Carolina
North Carolina
North Carolina is a state located in the southeastern United States. The state borders South Carolina and Georgia to the south, Tennessee to the west and Virginia to the north. North Carolina contains 100 counties. Its capital is Raleigh, and its largest city is Charlotte...

 in 1819, they withdrew from the Nation. William Holland Thomas
William Holland Thomas
William Holland Thomas was Principal Chief of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians and an officer in the Confederate States Army during the American Civil War....

, a white store owner and state legislator from Jackson County, North Carolina
Jackson County, North Carolina
Jackson County is a county located in the southwest of the U.S. state of North Carolina. As of 2010, the population was 40,271. Since 1913 its county seat has been Sylva, replacing Webster.-History:...

, helped over 600 Cherokee from Qualla Town
Cherokee, North Carolina
Cherokee is a town in Swain County, North Carolina, USA, within the Qualla Boundary land trust. It is located in the Oconaluftee River Valley, near the intersection of U.S. Route 19 and U.S...

 obtain North Carolina citizenship, which exempted them from forced removal. Over 400 Cherokee either hid from Federal troops in the remote Snowbird Mountains, under the leadership of Tsali
Tsali
Tsali, originally of Coosawattee Town , was a noted figure at two different periods of Cherokee history, both of them vital.From which of the main divisions of the Cherokee prior to the American Revolution he came is not known, but records do indicate that as a young man he followed Dragging Canoe...

 , or belonged to the former Valley Towns area around the Cheoah River
Cheoah River
The Cheoah River is a tributary of the Little Tennessee River in North Carolina in the United States.It is located in Graham County in far western North Carolina, near Robbinsville, and is approximately 20 miles in length...

 who negotiated with the state government to stay in North Carolina. An additional 400 Cherokee stayed on reserves in Southeast Tennessee, North Georgia, and Northeast Alabama, as citizens of their respective states. They were mostly mixed-race and Cherokee women married to white men. Together, these groups were the ancestors of the federally recognized Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians
Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians
The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians , is a federally recognized Native American tribe in the United States of America, who are descended from Cherokee who remained in the Eastern United States while others moved, or were forced to relocate, to the west in the 19th century. The history of the...

, and some of the state-recognized tribes in surrounding states.

Civil War


The American Civil War
American Civil War
The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ; the other 25...

 was devastating for both East and Western Cherokee. The Eastern Band, aided by William Thomas
William Holland Thomas
William Holland Thomas was Principal Chief of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians and an officer in the Confederate States Army during the American Civil War....

, became the Thomas Legion of Cherokee Indians and Highlanders, fighting for the Confederacy in the American Civil War
American Civil War
The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ; the other 25...

. Cherokee in Indian Territory divided into Union and Confederate factions, with most supporting the Confederacy.

Stand Watie
Stand Watie
Stand Watie , also known as Standhope Uwatie, Degataga , meaning “stand firm”), and Isaac S. Watie, was a leader of the Cherokee Nation and a brigadier general of the Confederate States Army during the American Civil War...

, the leader of the Ridge Party, raised a regiment for Confederate service in 1861. John Ross
John Ross (Cherokee chief)
John Ross , also known as Guwisguwi , was Principal Chief of the Cherokee Native American Nation from 1828–1866...

, who had reluctantly agreed to ally with the Confederacy, was captured by Federal troops in 1862. He lived in self-imposed exile in Philadelphia, supporting the Union. In Indian Territory, the national council of those who supported the Union voted to abolish slavery in the Cherokee Nation in 1863, but they were not the majority slaveholders and the vote had little effect on those supporting the Confederacy.

Watie was elected Principal Chief of the pro-Confederacy majority. A master of hit-and-run cavalry tactics, Watie fought those Cherokee loyal to John Ross and Federal troops in Indian Territory
Indian Territory
The Indian Territory, also known as the Indian Territories and the Indian Country, was land set aside within the United States for the settlement of American Indians...

 and Arkansas
Arkansas
Arkansas is a state located in the southern region of the United States. Its name is an Algonquian name of the Quapaw Indians. Arkansas shares borders with six states , and its eastern border is largely defined by the Mississippi River...

, capturing Union supply trains and steamboats, and saving a Confederate army by covering their retreat after the Battle of Pea Ridge
Battle of Pea Ridge
The Battle of Pea Ridge was a land battle of the American Civil War, fought on March 6–8, 1862, at Pea Ridge in northwest Arkansas, near Garfield. In the battle, Union forces led by Brig. Gen. Samuel R. Curtis defeated Confederate troops under Maj. Gen. Earl Van Dorn. The outcome of the...

 in March 1862. He became a Brigadier General of the Confederate States; the only other American Indian to hold the rank in the American Civil War was Ely S. Parker
Ely S. Parker
Ely Samuel Parker , was a Seneca attorney, engineer, and tribal diplomat. He was commissioned a lieutenant colonel during the American Civil War, when he served as adjutant to General Ulysses S. Grant. He wrote the final draft of the Confederate surrender terms at Appomattox...

 with the Union Army. On June 25, 1865, two months after Robert E. Lee
Robert E. Lee
Robert Edward Lee was a career military officer who is best known for having commanded the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia in the American Civil War....

 surrendered at Appomattox
Appomattox Court House National Historical Park
The Appomattox Court House National Historical Park is a National Historical Park of original and reconstructed nineteenth century buildings. It was signed into law August 3, 1935. The village was made a national monument in 1940 and a national historical park in 1954...

, Stand Watie became the last Confederate General to stand down.

Reconstruction and late 19th century



After the Civil War, the US government required the Cherokee Nation to sign a new treaty, because of its opposition. The US required the 1866 Treaty to provide for the emancipation
Emancipation
Emancipation means the act of setting an individual or social group free or making equal to citizens in a political society.Emancipation may also refer to:* Emancipation , a champion Australian thoroughbred racehorse foaled in 1979...

 of all Cherokee slaves, and full citizenship to all Cherokee freedmen and all free African Americans who chose to continue to reside within tribal lands, so that they "shall have all the rights of native Cherokees." Both before and after the Civil War, some Cherokee intermarried or had relationships with African Americans, just as they had with whites. Many Cherokee Freedmen have been active politically within the tribe.

The US government also acquired easement
Easement
An easement is a certain right to use the real property of another without possessing it.Easements are helpful for providing pathways across two or more pieces of property or allowing an individual to fish in a privately owned pond...

 rights to the western part of the territory, which became the Oklahoma Territory
Oklahoma Territory
The Territory of Oklahoma was an organized incorporated territory of the United States that existed from May 2, 1890, until November 16, 1907, when it was joined with the Indian Territory under a new constitution and admitted to the Union as the State of Oklahoma.-Organization:Oklahoma Territory's...

, for the construction of railroads. Development and settlers followed the railroads. By the late 19th century, the government believed that Native Americans would be better off if each family owned its own land. The Dawes Act
Dawes Act
The Dawes Act, adopted by Congress in 1887, authorized the President of the United States to survey Indian tribal land and divide the land into allotments for individual Indians. The Act was named for its sponsor, Senator Henry L. Dawes of Massachusetts. The Dawes Act was amended in 1891 and again...

 of 1887 provided for the breakup of commonly held tribal land into individual household allotments. Native Americans were registered on the Dawes Rolls and allotted land from the common reserve. The US government counted the remainder of tribal land as "surplus" and sold it to non-Cherokee individuals.

The Curtis Act of 1898
Curtis Act of 1898
The Curtis Act of 1898 was an amendment to the United States Dawes Act that brought about the allotment process of lands of the Five Civilized Tribes of Indian Territory: the Choctaw, Chickasaw, Muscogee, Cherokee, and Seminole...

 dismantled tribal governments, courts, schools, and other civic institutions. For Indian Territory, this meant abolition of the Cherokee courts and governmental systems. This was seen as necessary before the Oklahoma and Indian territories could be admitted as a combined state. In 1905, the Five Civilized Tribes
Five Civilized Tribes
The Five Civilized Tribes were the five Native American nations—the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek, and Seminole—that were considered civilized by Anglo-European settlers during the colonial and early federal period because they adopted many of the colonists' customs and had generally good...

 of the Indian Territory
Indian Territory
The Indian Territory, also known as the Indian Territories and the Indian Country, was land set aside within the United States for the settlement of American Indians...

 proposed the creation of the State of Sequoyah
State of Sequoyah
The State of Sequoyah was the proposed name for a state to be established in the eastern part of present-day Oklahoma. In 1905, faced by proposals to end their tribal governments, Native Americans of the Five Civilized Tribes in Indian Territory proposed such a state as a means to retain some...

 as one to be exclusively Native American, but failed to gain support in Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington, "the District", or simply D.C., is the capital of the United States. On July 16, 1790, the United States Congress approved the creation of a permanent national capital as permitted by the U.S. Constitution....

. In 1907, the Oklahoma
Oklahoma Territory
The Territory of Oklahoma was an organized incorporated territory of the United States that existed from May 2, 1890, until November 16, 1907, when it was joined with the Indian Territory under a new constitution and admitted to the Union as the State of Oklahoma.-Organization:Oklahoma Territory's...

 and Indian Territories
Indian Territory
The Indian Territory, also known as the Indian Territories and the Indian Country, was land set aside within the United States for the settlement of American Indians...

 entered the union as the state of Oklahoma
Oklahoma
Oklahoma is a state located in the South Central region of the United States of America. With an estimated 3,751,351 residents as of the 2010 census and a land area of 68,667 square miles , Oklahoma is the 28th most populous and 20th-largest state...

.
By the late 19th century, the Eastern Band of Cherokee were laboring under the constraints of a segregated
Racial segregation
Racial segregation is the separation of humans into racial groups in daily life. It may apply to activities such as eating in a restaurant, drinking from a water fountain, using a public toilet, attending school, going to the movies, or in the rental or purchase of a home...

 society. In the aftermath of Reconstruction, conservative white Democrats regained power in North Carolina and other southern states. They proceeded to effectively disfranchise all blacks and many poor whites by new constitutions and laws related to voter registration and elections. They passed Jim Crow laws
Jim Crow laws
The Jim Crow laws were state and local laws in the United States enacted between 1876 and 1965. They mandated de jure racial segregation in all public facilities, with a supposedly "separate but equal" status for black Americans...

 that divided society into "white" and "colored", mostly to control freedmen. Cherokee and other Native Americans were classified on the colored side and suffered the same racial segregation and disfranchisement as former slaves. They also often lost their historical documentation for identification as Indians, when the Southern states classified them as colored. Blacks and Native Americans would not have their constitutional rights as US citizens enforced until after the Civil Rights Movement
Civil rights movement
The civil rights movement was a worldwide political movement for equality before the law occurring between approximately 1950 and 1980. In many situations it took the form of campaigns of civil resistance aimed at achieving change by nonviolent forms of resistance. In some situations it was...

 secured passage of civil rights legislation in the mid-1960s, and the federal government began to monitor voter registration and elections, as well as other programs.

Marriage


Cherokee attitudes toward marriage are flexible. Before the 19th century, polygamy
Polygamy
Polygamy is a marriage which includes more than two partners...

 was common, especially among elite men. Traditionally, couples, particularly women, can divorce freely. The matrilineal and matrifocal nature of the culture meant that women controlled property and their children gained status through the mother's clan. In addition, a married couple lived with or near the woman's family, so she could be aided by her women relatives. Her oldest brother was a more important mentor to her boys than was their father, who belonged to another clan.

Intermarriage with European Americans had occurred before the 19th century, especially by traders and high-status Cherokee families seeking joint alliances. Some of the mixed-race sons of such high status women became leading chiefs among the Cherokee, using what they learned to benefit their people.

In the 19th century in Indian Territory, marriage between a Cherokee and non-Cherokee had certain restrictions. was relatively common but complicated. A European American could legally marry a Cherokee woman by petitioning the federal court after gaining approval of ten of her blood relatives. Once married, the man became an "Intermarried White" member of the Cherokee tribe with restricted rights; for instance, he could not hold any tribal office. He also remained a citizen of and under the laws of the United States. Common law marriages were more popular.

If a European-American woman married a Cherokee man, the children of such a union were disadvantaged, as they would not truly belong to the nation, as they had no clan and traditionally were not considered Cherokee. These stem from the matrilineal and matrilocal aspects of Cherokee culture.

Cultural institutions


The Qualla Arts and Crafts Mutual, Inc., of Cherokee, North Carolina is the oldest continuing Native American art co-operative. They were founded in 1940 to provide a venue for traditional Eastern Band Cherokee artists. The Museum of the Cherokee Indian, also in Cherokee, displays permanent and changing exhibits, houses archives and collections important to Cherokee history, and sponsors cultural groups, such as the Warriors of the AniKituhwa dance group.

In 2007, the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians
Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians
The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians , is a federally recognized Native American tribe in the United States of America, who are descended from Cherokee who remained in the Eastern United States while others moved, or were forced to relocate, to the west in the 19th century. The history of the...

 entered into a partnership with Southwestern Community College and Western Carolina University
Western Carolina University
Western Carolina University is a coeducational public university located in Cullowhee, North Carolina, United States. The university is a constituent campus of the University of North Carolina system....

 to create the Oconaluftee Institute for Cultural Arts (OICA), to emphasize native art and culture in traditional fine arts education, thus preserving traditional art forms and encouraging exploration of contemporary ideas. Located in Cherokee, OICA currently offers an associate's degree program. In August 2010, OICA acquired a letterpress and had the Cherokee syllabary
Cherokee syllabary
The Cherokee syllabary is a syllabary invented by Sequoyah to write the Cherokee language in the late 1810s and early 1820s. His creation of the syllabary is particularly noteworthy in that he could not previously read any script. He first experimented with logograms, but his system later developed...

 recast to begin printing one-of-a-kind fine art books and prints in the Cherokee language
Cherokee language
Cherokee is an Iroquoian language spoken by the Cherokee people which uses a unique syllabary writing system. It is the only Southern Iroquoian language that remains spoken. Cherokee is a polysynthetic language.-North American etymology:...

.

The Cherokee Heritage Center
Cherokee Heritage Center
The Cherokee Heritage Center is a non-profit historical society and museum campus that seeks to preserve the historical and cultural artifacts, language, and traditional crafts of the Cherokee. The Heritage center also hosts the central genealogy database and genealogy research center for the...

, of Park Hill, Oklahoma
Park Hill, Oklahoma
Park Hill is a census-designated place in southwestern Cherokee County, Oklahoma in the United States. The population was 3,936 at the 2000 census. It lies near Tahlequah, east of the junction of U.S. Route 62 and State Highway 82.-History:...

 hosts a reproduction of an ancient Cherokee Village, Adams Rural Village (including 19th-century buildings), Nofire Farms, and the Cherokee Family Research Center for genealogy. The Cherokee Heritage Center also houses the Cherokee National Archives. Both the Cherokee Nation
Cherokee Nation
The Cherokee Nation is the largest of three Cherokee federally recognized tribes in the United States. It was established in the 20th century, and includes people descended from members of the old Cherokee Nation who relocated voluntarily from the Southeast to Indian Territory and Cherokees who...

 (of Oklahoma) and the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee, as well as other tribes, contribute funding to the CHC.

Language and writing system



The Cherokee speak a Southern Iroquoian
Iroquoian languages
The Iroquoian languages are a First Nation and Native American language family.-Family division:*Ruttenber, Edward Manning. 1992 [1872]. History of the Indian tribes of Hudson's River. Hope Farm Press....

 language, which is polysynthetic
Polysynthetic language
In linguistic typology, polysynthetic languages are highly synthetic languages, i.e., languages in which words are composed of many morphemes. Whereas isolating languages have a low morpheme-to-word ratio, polysynthetic languages have extremely high morpheme-to-word ratios.Not all languages can be...

 and is written in a syllabary
Syllabary
A syllabary is a set of written symbols that represent syllables, which make up words. In a syllabary, there is no systematic similarity between the symbols which represent syllables with the same consonant or vowel...

 invented by Sequoyah
Sequoyah
Sequoyah , named in English George Gist or George Guess, was a Cherokee silversmith. In 1821 he completed his independent creation of a Cherokee syllabary, making reading and writing in Cherokee possible...

 . For years, many people wrote transliterated Cherokee or used poorly intercompatible fonts to type out the syllabary. However, since the fairly recent addition of the Cherokee syllables to Unicode
Unicode
Unicode is a computing industry standard for the consistent encoding, representation and handling of text expressed in most of the world's writing systems...

, the Cherokee language is experiencing a renaissance in its use on the Internet.

Because of the polysynthetic nature of the Cherokee language, new and descriptive words in Cherokee are easily constructed to reflect or express modern concepts. Examples include ditiyohihi , which means "he argues repeatedly and on purpose with a purpose," meaning "attorney." Another example is didaniyisgi which means "the final catcher" or "he catches them finally and conclusively," meaning "policeman."

Many words, however, have been borrowed from the English language, such as gasoline, which in Cherokee is . Many other words were borrowed from the languages of tribes who settled in Oklahoma in the early 20th century. One example relates to a town in Oklahoma named "Nowata". The word is a Delaware Indian word for "welcome" (more precisely the Delaware word is which can mean "welcome" or "friend" in the Delaware Language). The white settlers of the area used the name "nowata" for the township, and local Cherokees, being unaware the word had its origins in the Delaware Language, called the town Amadikanigvnagvna which means "the water is all gone from here", i.e. "no water".

Other examples of borrowed words are for coffee and for watch (which led to or "big watch" for clock).

The following table is an example of Cherokee text and its translation:
ᏣᎳᎩ: ᏂᎦᏓ ᎠᏂᏴᏫ ᏂᎨᎫᏓᎸᎾ ᎠᎴ ᎤᏂᏠᏱ ᎤᎾᏕᎿ ᏚᏳᎧᏛ ᎨᏒᎢ. ᎨᏥᏁᎳ ᎤᎾᏓᏅᏖᏗ ᎠᎴ ᎤᏃᏟᏍᏗ ᎠᎴ ᏌᏊ ᎨᏒ ᏧᏂᎸᏫᏍᏓᏁᏗ ᎠᎾᏟᏅᏢ ᎠᏓᏅᏙ ᎬᏗ.
All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood. (Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Universal Declaration of Human Rights
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is a declaration adopted by the United Nations General Assembly . The Declaration arose directly from the experience of the Second World War and represents the first global expression of rights to which all human beings are inherently entitled...

)

Treaties


The Cherokee have participated in at least thirty-six treaties in the past three hundred years.

Government

1794 Establishment of the Cherokee National Council and officers over the whole nation
1808 Establishment of the Cherokee Lighthorse Guard, a national police force
1809 Establishment of the National Committee
1810 End of separate regional councils and abolition of blood vengeance
1820 Establishment of courts in eight districts to handle civil disputes
1822 Cherokee Supreme Court established
1823 National Committee given power to review acts of the National Council
1827 Constitution of the Cherokee Nation East
1828 Constitution of the Cherokee Nation West
1832 Suspension of elections in the Cherokee Nation East
1839 Constitution of the reunited Cherokee Nation
1868 Constitution of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians
1888 Charter of Incorporation issued by the State of North Carolina to the Eastern Band
1950 Constitution and federal charter of the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians
1975 Constitution of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma
1999 Constitution of the Cherokee Nation drafted


After being ravaged by smallpox, and pressed by increasingly violent land-hungry settlers, the Cherokee adopted a European-American Representative democracy
Representative democracy
Representative democracy is a form of government founded on the principle of elected individuals representing the people, as opposed to autocracy and direct democracy...

 form of government in an effort to retain their lands. They established a governmental system modeled on that of the United States, with an elected principal chief, senate, and house of representatives. On April 10, 1810 the seven Cherokee clans met and began the abolition of blood vengeance by giving the sacred duty to the new Cherokee National government. Clans formally relinquished judicial responsibilities by the 1820s when the Cherokee Supreme Court was established. In 1825, the National Council extended citizenship to the children of Cherokee men married to white women. These ideas were largely incorporated into the 1827 Cherokee constitution. The constitution stated that "No person who is of negro or mulatto
Mulatto
Mulatto denotes a person with one white parent and one black parent, or more broadly, a person of mixed black and white ancestry. Contemporary usage of the term varies greatly, and the broader sense of the term makes its application rather subjective, as not all people of mixed white and black...

 [sic] parentage, either by the father or mother side, shall be eligible to hold any office of profit, honor or trust under this Government," with an exception for, "negroes and descendants of white and Indian men by negro women who may have been set free." This definition to limit rights of multiracial descendants, may have been more widely held among the elite than the general population.

Cherokee Nation






During 1898–1906 the federal government dissolved the former Cherokee Nation, to make way for the incorporation of Indian Territory
Indian Territory
The Indian Territory, also known as the Indian Territories and the Indian Country, was land set aside within the United States for the settlement of American Indians...

 into the new state of Oklahoma
Oklahoma
Oklahoma is a state located in the South Central region of the United States of America. With an estimated 3,751,351 residents as of the 2010 census and a land area of 68,667 square miles , Oklahoma is the 28th most populous and 20th-largest state...

. From 1906 to 1975, structure and function of the tribal government were not clearly defined. In 1975 the tribe drafted a constitution, which they ratified on June 26, 1976, and the tribe received federal recognition. In 1999, the CNO changed or added several provisions to its constitution, among them the designation of the tribe to be "Cherokee Nation," dropping "of Oklahoma." According to a statement by BIA head Larry Echohawk the Cherokee Nation is not the historical Cherokee tribe but instead a "successor in interest." The attorney of the Cherokee Nation has stated that they intend to appeal this decision.

The modern Cherokee Nation, in recent times, has experienced an almost unprecedented expansion in economic growth, equality, and prosperity for its citizens. The Cherokee Nation, under the leadership of Principal Chief Chad Smith, has significant business, corporate, real estate, and agricultural interests, including numerous highly profitable casino operations. The CN controls Cherokee Nation Entertainment, Cherokee Nation Industries, and Cherokee Nation Businesses. CNI is a very large defense contractor that creates thousands of jobs in eastern Oklahoma for Cherokee citizens.

The CN has constructed health clinics throughout Oklahoma, contributed to community development programs, built roads and bridges, constructed learning facilities and universities for its citizens, instilled the practice of Gadugi
Gadugi
Gadugi is a term used in the Cherokee language which means "working together" or "cooperative labor" within a community.Historically, the word referred to a labor gang, of men and/or women, working together for projects such as harvesting crops or tending to gardens of elderly or infirm tribal...

 and self-reliance in its citizens, revitalized language immersion programs for its children and youth, and is a powerful and positive economic and political force in Eastern Oklahoma.

The CN hosts the Cherokee National Holiday
Cherokee National Holiday
The Cherokee National Holiday is an annual event held each Labor Day weekend in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. The event celebrates the September 6, 1839 signing of the Cherokee Nation Constitution in Oklahoma after the Trail of Tears Indian removal ended....

 on Labor Day
Labor Day
Labor Day is a United States federal holiday observed on the first Monday in September that celebrates the economic and social contributions of workers.-History:...

 weekend each year, and 80,000 to 90,000 Cherokee Citizens travel to Tahlequah, Oklahoma
Tahlequah, Oklahoma
Tahlequah is a city in Cherokee County, Oklahoma, United States located at the foothills of the Ozark Mountains. It was founded as a capital of the original Cherokee Nation in 1838 to welcome those Cherokee forced west on the Trail of Tears. The city's population was 15,753 at the 2010 census. It...

, for the festivities. It also publishes the Cherokee Phoenix
Cherokee Phoenix
The Cherokee Phoenix was the first newspaper published by Native Americans in the United States and the first published in a Native American language. The first issue was published in English and Cherokee on February 21, 1828, in New Echota, capital of the Cherokee Nation . The paper continued...

, the tribal newspaper, published in both English and the Sequoyah syllabary. The Cherokee Nation council appropriates money for historic foundations concerned with the preservation of Cherokee Culture.

The Cherokee Nation also supports the Cherokee Nation Film Festivals in Tahlequah, Oklahoma and participates in the Sundance Film Festival
Sundance Film Festival
The Sundance Film Festival is a film festival that takes place annually in Utah, in the United States. It is the largest independent cinema festival in the United States. Held in January in Park City, Salt Lake City, and Ogden, as well as at the Sundance Resort, the festival is a showcase for new...

 in Park City, Utah
Park City, Utah
Park City is a town in Summit and Wasatch counties in the U.S. state of Utah. It is considered to be part of the Wasatch Back. The city is southeast of downtown Salt Lake City and from Salt Lake City's east edge of Sugar House along Interstate 80. The population was 7,558 at the 2010 census...

.

Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians




The Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indians in North Carolina, led by Chief Michell Hicks,
hosts over a million visitors a year to cultural attractions of the 100 square miles (259 km²) sovereign nation. The reservation, the "Qualla Boundary
Qualla Boundary
The Qualla Boundary is the territory where the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians reside in western North Carolina.-Location:...

", has a population of over 8,000 Cherokee, primarily direct descendants of Indians who managed to avoid “The Trail of Tears”.

Attractions include the Oconaluftee Indian Village, Museum of the Cherokee Indian, and the country’s oldest and foremost Native American crafts cooperative. The outdoor drama Unto These Hills
Unto These Hills
Unto These Hills is an outdoor historical drama staged annually at the 2800-seat Mountainside Theatre in Cherokee, North Carolina. It is the second oldest outdoor historical drama in the United States, after The Lost Colony in Manteo, North Carolina...

, which debuted in 1950, recently broke record attendance sales. Together with Harrah’s Cherokee Casino and Hotel, Cherokee Indian Hospital and Cherokee Boys Club, the tribe generated $78 million dollars in the local economy in 2005.

United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians




The United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians formed their government under the Indian Reorganization Act
Indian Reorganization Act
The Indian Reorganization Act of June 18, 1934 the Indian New Deal, was U.S. federal legislation that secured certain rights to Native Americans, including Alaska Natives...

 of 1934 and gained federal recognition in 1946. Enrollment into the tribe is limited to people with a quarter or more of Cherokee blood. Many members of the UKB are descended from Old Settlers – Cherokees who moved to Arkansas and Indian Territory before the Trail of Tears. Of the 12,000 people enrolled in the tribe, 11,000 live in Oklahoma. Their chief is George G. Wickliffe. The UKB operate a tribal casino, bingo hall, smokeshop, fuel outlets, truck stop, and gallery that showcases art and crafts made by tribal members. The tribe also issues their own tribal vehicle tags.

Relations among the three federally recognized Cherokee tribes


The Cherokee Nation participates in numerous joint programs with the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. It also participates in cultural exchange programs and joint Tribal Council meetings involving councilors from both Cherokee Tribes. These are held to address issues affecting all of the Cherokee People.

The administrations of the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians and the Cherokee Nation have a somewhat adversarial relationship. The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians interacts with the Cherokee Nation in a unified spirit of Gadugi
Gadugi
Gadugi is a term used in the Cherokee language which means "working together" or "cooperative labor" within a community.Historically, the word referred to a labor gang, of men and/or women, working together for projects such as harvesting crops or tending to gardens of elderly or infirm tribal...

.

The United Keetoowah Band tribal council unanimously passed a resolution to approach the Cherokee Nation for a joint council meeting between the two Nations, as a means of "offering the olive branch", in the words of the UKB Council. While a date was set for the meeting between members of the Cherokee Nation Council and UKB representative, Chief Smith vetoed the meeting.

Contemporary settlement



Cherokees are most concentrated in Oklahoma and North Carolina, but some reside in the US West Coast, due to economic migrations caused by the Dust Bowl
Dust Bowl
The Dust Bowl, or the Dirty Thirties, was a period of severe dust storms causing major ecological and agricultural damage to American and Canadian prairie lands from 1930 to 1936...

 during the Great Depression, job availability during the Second World War, and the Federal Indian Relocation program
Indian Relocation Act of 1956
The Indian Relocation Act of 1956 was a United States law intended to encourage Native Americans in the United States to leave Indian reservations, acquire vocational skills, and assimilate into the general population...

 during the 1950s–1960s. Cherokees constitute over 2% of population of three largely rural communities in California
California
California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...

Covelo
Covelo, California
Covelo is a census-designated place in Mendocino County, California, United States. Covelo is located east-northeast of Laytonville, at an elevation of 1398 feet...

, Hayfork
Hayfork, California
Hayfork is a census-designated place in Trinity County, California, United States. The population was 2,368 at the 2010 census, up from 2,315 at the 2000 census...

 and San Miguel
San Miguel, Contra Costa County, California
San Miguel is a census-designated place in Contra Costa County, California. San Miguel sits at an elevation of . The 2010 United States census reported San Miguel's population was 3,392.-Geography:...

, one town in Oregon
Oregon
Oregon is a state in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States. It is located on the Pacific coast, with Washington to the north, California to the south, Nevada on the southeast and Idaho to the east. The Columbia and Snake rivers delineate much of Oregon's northern and eastern...

 and one town in Arizona
Arizona
Arizona ; is a state located in the southwestern region of the United States. It is also part of the western United States and the mountain west. The capital and largest city is Phoenix...

). Destinations for Cherokee diaspora included multi-ethnic/racial urban centers of California (i.e. the Greater Los Angeles
Greater Los Angeles Area
The Greater Los Angeles Area, or the Southland, is a term used for the Combined Statistical Area sprawled over five counties in the southern part of California, namely Los Angeles County, Orange County, San Bernardino County, Riverside County and Ventura County...

 and SF Bay area
San Francisco Bay Area
The San Francisco Bay Area, commonly known as the Bay Area, is a populated region that surrounds the San Francisco and San Pablo estuaries in Northern California. The region encompasses metropolitan areas of San Francisco, Oakland, and San Jose, along with smaller urban and rural areas...

s), and they usually lived in farming communities, by military bases and other Indian reservations.

See also the Albuquerque Cherokee Nation Township (Cherokee Nation)
Albuquerque Cherokee Nation Township (Cherokee Nation)
The Cherokee Southwest Township in Albuquerque, New Mexico, is a large group of Cherokee families from the Cherokee Nation.The township incorporated under the Cherokee Nation as a Cherokee Township for Cherokee Nation citizens who migrated to New Mexico during the Oklahoma dust bowl in the 1930s...

about the Cherokee community of Albuquerque, NM.

Tribal recognition and membership



The three Cherokees tribes have differing requirements for enrollment. The Cherokee Nation determines enrollment by lineal descent from Cherokees listed on the Dawes Rolls
Dawes Rolls
The Dawes Rolls were created by the Dawes Commission. The Commission, authorized by United States Congress in 1893, was required to negotiate with the Five Civilized Tribes to convince them to agree to an allotment plan and dissolution of the reservation system...

 and has no minimum blood quantum requirement. Currently, descendents of the Dawes Cherokee Freedman rolls are members of the tribe, pending court decisions. CN has numerous members who also have African-American, Latino, Asian, European-American, and other ancestry. The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians requires a minimum one-sixteenth Cherokee blood quantum (genealogical descent, equivalent to one great-great-grandparent) and an ancestor on the Baker Roll. The United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians requires a minimum one-quarter Keetoowah Cherokee blood quantum (equivalent to one grandparent), and the UKB does not allow members that have relinquished their membership to re-enroll in the UKB.

In 2000 the U.S. census reported 875,276 people self-identified as Cherokee Indian; however, only approximately 316,049 people are enrolled in the federally recognized Cherokee tribes.

Over 200 groups claim to be Cherokee nations, tribes, or bands. Cherokee Nation spokesman Mike Miller has suggested that some groups, which he calls Cherokee Heritage Groups
Cherokee heritage groups
Cherokee heritage groups are associations, societies and other organizations located across the United States and in other countries that seek to preserve key Cherokee concepts of ceremonial, cultural and natural value. They incorporate genealogy, language, social interaction and sharing of...

, are encouraged. Others, however, are controversial for their attempts to gain economically through their claims to be Cherokee. The three federally recognized groups assert themselves as the only groups having the legal right to present themselves as Cherokee Indian Tribes and only their enrolled members as Cherokee.

One exception to this may be the Texas Cherokees
Texas Cherokees
Tsalagiyi Nvdagi is the Cherokee Language term for Texas Cherokees. Prior to the Trail of Tears, some bands of Cherokees fled west to avoid white encroachment.-History:...

. Prior to 1975, they were considered a part of the Cherokee Nation, as reflected in briefs filed before the Indian Claims Commission. At one time W.W. Keeler served not only as Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation, but at the same time held the position as Chairman of the Texas Cherokee and Associated Bands (TCAB) Executive Committee.

Following the adoption of the Cherokee constitution in 1976, TCAB descendants whose ancestors had remained a part of the physical Mount Tabor Community in Rusk County, Texas
Rusk County, Texas
As of the census of 2000, there were 47,372 people, 17,364 households, and 12,727 families residing in the county. The population density was 51 people per square mile . There were 19,867 housing units at an average density of 22 per square mile...

 were excluded from citizenship. Their ancestors did not appear on the Final Rolls of the Five Civilized Tribes, registered under the Dawes Commission. However, most if not all TCAB descendants did have an ancestor listed on the Guion Miller or Old Settler rolls.

While most Mount Tabor residents returned to the Cherokee Nation following the death of John Ross in 1866, today there is a sizable group that is well documented but outside that body. It is not actively seeking a status clarification. They do have treaty rights going back to the Treaty of Bird’s Fort
Treaty of Bird’s Fort
The Treaty of Bird’s Fort, or Bird’s Fort Treaty was a peace treaty between the Republic of Texas and some of the Indian tribes of Texas and Oklahoma, signed on September 29, 1843. The treaty was intended to end years of hostilities and warfare between the Native Americans and the white settlers in...

. From the end of the Civil War until 1975, they were associated with the Cherokee Nation. The TCAB formed as a political organization in 1871 led by William Penn Adair
William Penn Adair
William Penn Adair was a Cherokee leader and Confederate colonel.-Background:William Penn Adair was born on April 15, 1830 in the old Cherokee Nation in New Echota, Georgia. His parents were George Washington Adair and Martha Adair. He attended Cherokee schools in Indian Territory, studying law....

 and Clement Neely Vann. Descendants of the Texas Cherokees and the Mount Tabor Community joined together to try to gain redress from treaty violations, stemming from the Treaty of Bowles Village in 1836. Today, most Mount Tabor descendants are in fact members of the Cherokee Nation. Only some 800 are stuck in limbo without status as Cherokees. Many of them still reside in Rusk and Smith counties of east Texas.

Other remnant populations continue to exist throughout the Southeast United States and individually in the states surrounding Oklahoma. Many of these people trace descent from persons enumerated on official rolls such as the Guion-Miller, Drennan, Mullay and Henderson Rolls, among others. Other descendants trace their heritage through the treaties of 1817 and 1819 with the federal government which gave individual allotments to Cherokees. State recognized Tribes require irrefutable genealogical proof that applicants are of Cherokee descent. Current enrollment guidelines of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma do not allow these descendants admission despite the fact that many current Cherokee citizens have provable relatives ineligible to enroll. Such facts were pointed out by Cherokee citizens of CNO during the Constitutional Convention held to ratify a new governing document. The document that was eventually ratified by a small portion of the electorate has yet to be approved by the Federal government.

Cherokee Freedmen


The Cherokee freedmen, descendants of African American
African American
African Americans are citizens or residents of the United States who have at least partial ancestry from any of the native populations of Sub-Saharan Africa and are the direct descendants of enslaved Africans within the boundaries of the present United States...

 slaves owned by citizens of the Cherokee Nation during the Antebellum Period, were first guaranteed Cherokee citizenship under a treaty with the United States in 1866. This was in the wake of the American Civil War
American Civil War
The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ; the other 25...

, when the US emancipated slaves and passed US constitutional amendments granting freedmen citizenship in the United States.

In 1988, the federal court in the Freedmen case of Nero v. Cherokee Nation held that Cherokees could decide citizenship requirements and exclude freedmen. On March 7, 2006, the Cherokee Nation Judicial Appeal Tribunal ruled that the Cherokee Freedmen were eligible for Cherokee citizenship. This ruling proved controversial; while the Cherokee Freedman had historically been recorded as "citizens" of the Cherokee Nation at least since 1866 and the later Dawes Commission
Dawes Commission
The American Dawes Commission, named for its first chairman Henry L. Dawes, was authorized under a rider to an Indian Office appropriation bill, March 3, 1893...

 Land Rolls, the ruling "did not limit membership to people possessing Cherokee blood". This ruling was consistent with the 1975 Constitution of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, in its acceptance of the Cherokee Freedmen on the basis of historical citizenship, rather than documented blood relation.

On March 3, 2007 a constitutional amendment was passed by a Cherokee vote limiting citizenship to Cherokees on the Dawes Rolls for those listed as Cherokee by blood, Shawnee and Delaware. The Cherokee Freedmen had 90 days to appeal this amendment vote which disenfranchised them from Cherokee citizenship and file appeal within the Cherokee Nation Tribal Council, which is currently pending in Nash, et al. v. Cherokee Nation Registrar. On May 14, 2007, the Cherokee Freedmen were reinstated as citizens of the Cherokee Nation by the Cherokee Nation Tribal Courts through a temporary order and temporary injunction until the court reached its final decision. On January 14, 2011, the tribal district court ruled that the 2007 constitutional amendment was invalid because it conflicted with the 1866 treaty guaranteeing the Freedmen's rights.

Notable Cherokee in history


This includes only Cherokee documented in history. Contemporary notable Cherokee people are listed in the articles for the appropriate tribe. For self-identified people of Cherokee heritage, see List of Self-identified people of Cherokee ancestry.
  • William Penn Adair
    William Penn Adair
    William Penn Adair was a Cherokee leader and Confederate colonel.-Background:William Penn Adair was born on April 15, 1830 in the old Cherokee Nation in New Echota, Georgia. His parents were George Washington Adair and Martha Adair. He attended Cherokee schools in Indian Territory, studying law....

     (1830–1880), Cherokee senator and diplomat, Confederate colonel.
  • Attakullakulla (ca. 1708 – ca. 1777), diplomat to Britain, headman of Chota, chief
  • Bob Benge
    Bob Benge
    Bob Benge , also known as "Captain Benge" or "The Bench" to frontiersmen, was one of the most feared Cherokee leaders on the frontier during the Chickamauga wars.-Early life:...

     (ca. 1762–1794), warrior of the Lower Cherokee during the Chickamauga Wars
  • Elias Boudinot
    Elias Boudinot (Cherokee)
    Elias Boudinot , was a member of an important Cherokee family in present-day Georgia. They believed that rapid acculturation was critical to Cherokee survival. In 1828 Boudinot became the editor of the Cherokee Phoenix, which was published in Cherokee and English...

     (Galagina) (1802–1839), statesman, orator, and editor, founded first Cherokee newspaper, Cherokee Phoenix
  • Ned Christie
    Ned Christie
    Ned Christie , also known as NeDe WaDe , was a Cherokee statesman. Ned was a member of the executive council in the Cherokee Nation senate, and served as one of three advisers to Chief Bushyhead...

     (1852–1892), statesman, Cherokee Nation senator, infamous outlaw
  • Rear Admiral Joseph J. Clark
    Joseph J. Clark
    Admiral Joseph James "Jocko" Clark, USN was an admiral in the United States Navy, who commanded aircraft carriers during World War II. A native of Oklahoma, Clark was a member of the Cherokee tribe...

     (1893–1971), United States Navy, highest ranking Native American in the US military.
  • Doublehead
    Doublehead
    Doublehead or Incalatanga , was one of the most feared warriors of the Cherokee during the Chickamauga Wars. In 1788, his brother, Old Tassel, was chief of the Cherokee people, but was killed under a truce by frontier rangers. In 1791 Doublehead was among a delegation of Cherokees who visited U.S...

    , Taltsuska (d. 1807), a war leader during the Chicamauga Wars, led the Lower Cherokee, signed land deals with US
  • Dragging Canoe
    Dragging Canoe
    Tsiyu Gansini , "He is dragging his canoe", known to whites as Dragging Canoe, was a Cherokee war chief who led a band of Cherokee against colonists and United States settlers...

    , Tsiyugunsini (1738–1792), general the militant Cherokee during the Chickamauga Wars, principal chief of the Chicamauga or Lower Cherokee
  • Franklin Gritts
    Franklin Gritts
    Franklin Gritts, also known as Oau Nah Jusah, or They Have Returned, was a Cherokee artist best known for his contributions to the "Golden Era" of Native American art, both as a teacher and an artist....

    , Cherokee artist taught at Haskell Institute
    Haskell Indian Nations University
    Haskell Indian Nations University is a tribal university located in Lawrence, Kansas, for members of federally recognized Native American tribes in the United States...

     and served on the USS Franklin
  • Charles R. Hicks
    Charles R. Hicks
    Charles Renatus Hicks was one of the most important Cherokee leaders in the early 19th century; together with James Vann and Major Ridge, he was one of a triumvirate of younger chiefs urging the tribe to acculturate to European-American ways and supported a Moravian mission school to educate the...

     (d. 1827), veteran of the Red Stick War, Second Principal Chief to Pathkiller in early 17th century, de facto Principal Chief from 1813–1827
  • Junaluska
    Junaluska
    Junaluska, or Tsunu’lahun’ski in Cherokee , was a leader of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians who reside in and around western North Carolina....

    (ca. 1775–1868), veteran of the Creek War, who saved President Andrew Jackson's life
  • Oconostota
    Oconostota
    Oconostota was the Warrior of Chota and the First Beloved Man of the Cherokee from 1775 to 1781.-Meaning of the name:...

    , Aganstata (Beloved Man) (ca. 1710–1783), war chief during the Anglo-Cherokee War,
  • Ostenaco
    Ostenaco
    Ostenaco , who preferred to go by the warrior's title he earned at any early age, "Mankiller" , also known as Judd's Friend, who lived c...

    , Ustanakwa (ca. 1703–1780), war chief, diplomat to Britain, founded the town of Ultiwa
  • Major Ridge
    Major Ridge
    Major Ridge, The Ridge was a Cherokee Indian member of the tribal council, a lawmaker, and a leader. He was a veteran of the Chickamauga Wars, the Creek War, and the First Seminole War.Along with Charles R...

     Ganundalegi or "Pathkiller" (ca.1771–1839), veteran of the Chickamauga Wars and the Red Stick War, signer of the Treaty of New Echota
  • John Ridge
    John Ridge
    John Ridge, born Skah-tle-loh-skee , was from a prominent family of the Cherokee Nation, then located in present-day Georgia. He married Sarah Bird Northup, of a New England family, whom he had met while studying at the Foreign Mission School in Cornwall, Connecticut...

    , Skatlelohski (1792–1839), son of Major Ridge, statesman, New Echota Treaty signer
  • John Rollin Ridge
    John Rollin Ridge
    John Rollin Ridge , a member of the Cherokee Nation, is considered the first Native American novelist.-Biography:...

    , Cheesquatalawny, or "Yellow Bird" (1827–1867), grandson of Major Ridge, first Native American novelist
  • Clement V. Rogers (1839–1911), US Senator, judge, cattleman, member of the Oklahoma Constitutional Convention
  • Will Rogers
    Will Rogers
    William "Will" Penn Adair Rogers was an American cowboy, comedian, humorist, social commentator, vaudeville performer, film actor, and one of the world's best-known celebrities in the 1920s and 1930s....

    , entertainer, roper, journalist, and author
  • John Ross
    John Ross (Cherokee chief)
    John Ross , also known as Guwisguwi , was Principal Chief of the Cherokee Native American Nation from 1828–1866...

    , Guwisguwi (1790–1866), veteran of the Red Stick War, Principal Chief in the east, during Removal, and in the west
  • Sequoyah
    Sequoyah
    Sequoyah , named in English George Gist or George Guess, was a Cherokee silversmith. In 1821 he completed his independent creation of a Cherokee syllabary, making reading and writing in Cherokee possible...

    (ca. 1767–1843), inventor of the Cherokee syllabary
  • Nimrod Jarrett Smith, Tsaladihi (1837–1893), Principal Chief of the Eastern Band, Civil War veteran
  • Redbird Smith
    Redbird Smith
    Redbird Smith was a Cherokee traditionalist and political activist. He helped found the Nighthawk Keetoowah Society, who revitalized traditional spirituality among Cherokees from the mid-19th century to the early 20th century.-Background:...

     (1850–1918), traditionalist, political activist, and chief of the Nighthawk Keetoowah Society
  • William Holland Thomas
    William Holland Thomas
    William Holland Thomas was Principal Chief of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians and an officer in the Confederate States Army during the American Civil War....

    , Wil' Usdi (1805–1893), non-Native but adopted into tribe, founding Principal Chief of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, commanding officer of Thomas Legion of Cherokee Indians and Highlanders
  • James Vann
    James Vann
    James Vann was an influential Cherokee leader, one of the triumvirate with Major Ridge and Charles R. Hicks, who led the Upper Towns of East Tennessee and North Georgia. He was the son of Wah-Li Vann, a mixed-race Cherokee woman, and a Scots fur trader...

     (ca. 1765–1809), Scottish-Cherokee, highly successful businessman and veteran of the Chickamauga Wars
  • Nancy Ward
    Nancy Ward
    Nanyehi , known in English as Nancy Ward was a Ghigau, or Beloved Woman of the Cherokee Nation, which meant that she was allowed to sit in councils and to make decisions, along with the other Beloved Women, on pardons...

    , Nanye-hi (ca. 1736–1822/4), (Beloved Woman), diplomat
  • Stand Watie
    Stand Watie
    Stand Watie , also known as Standhope Uwatie, Degataga , meaning “stand firm”), and Isaac S. Watie, was a leader of the Cherokee Nation and a brigadier general of the Confederate States Army during the American Civil War...

    , Degataga (1806–1871), signer of the Treaty of New Echota, last Confederate general to cease hostilities in the American Civil War as commanding officer of the First Indian Brigade of the Army of Trans-Mississippi

See also


  • Black drink
    Black drink
    Black drink was the name given by colonists to a ritual beverage called Asi, brewed by Native Americans in the Southeastern United States...

  • Black Indians in the United States
  • One-drop rule
    One-drop rule
    The one-drop rule is a historical colloquial term in the United States for the social classification as black of individuals with any African ancestry; meaning any person with "one drop of black blood" was considered black...


External links