(316,049 enrolled tribal members
(Eastern Band: 13,000+,
Cherokee Nation: 288,749, United Keetoowah
Cherokee ancestry in the 2010 Census )
REGIONS WITH SIGNIFICANT POPULATIONS
North Carolina 16,158 (0.2%)
Oklahoma 102,580 (2.7%)
Christianity , Kituhwa ,
Four Mothers Society
Four Mothers Society , Native American
THIS ARTICLE CONTAINS CHEROKEE SYLLABIC CHARACTERS . Without proper
rendering support , you may see question marks, boxes, or other
symbols instead of
The CHEROKEE (/ˈtʃɛrəkiː/ ;
Cherokee : ᎠᏂᏴᏫᏯ,
translit. _Aniyvwiyaʔi_ or Cherokee: ᏣᎳᎩ, translit. _Tsalagi_)
are an indigenous people of the Southeastern Woodlands . Prior to the
18th century, they were concentrated in southwestern
North Carolina ,
Tennessee , and the tips of western
South Carolina and
northeastern Georgia . The
Cherokee language is a Southern Iroquoian
language and part of the
Iroquoian language family . Today there are
three federally recognized
Cherokee tribes: the Eastern Band of
Cherokee Indians in
North Carolina , the United Keetoowah Band of
Cherokee Indians in
Oklahoma , and the
Cherokee Nation in Oklahoma.
By the 19th century, European settlers in the United States
Cherokee of the Southeast as one of the "Five Civilized
Tribes ," because they were agrarian and lived in permanent villages
and began to adopt some cultural and technological practices of the
European American settlers. The
Cherokee were one of the first, if not
the first, major non-European ethnic group to become U.S. citizens.
Article 8 in the 1817 treaty with the
Cherokee stated Cherokees may
wish to become citizens of the United States.
Cherokee Nation has more than 300,000 tribal members, making it
the largest of the 567 federally recognized tribes in the United
States. In addition, numerous groups claim
Cherokee lineage , and
some of these are state-recognized. A total of 819,000-plus people
Cherokee ancestry on the US census, which includes
persons who are not enrolled members of any tribe.
Of the three federally recognized
Cherokee tribes, the Cherokee
Nation (CN) and the
United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians (UKB)
have headquarters in Tahlequah , Oklahoma. The UKB are mostly
descendants of "Old Settlers,"
Cherokee who migrated to
Oklahoma about 1817 prior to Indian Removal. They are related to the
Cherokee who were later forcibly relocated there in the 1830s under
Indian Removal Act . The
Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians is on
Qualla Boundary in western
North Carolina ; their ancestors
resisted or avoided relocation, remaining in the area.
* 1 Name
* 2 Origins
* 3 Early cultures
* 4 History
* 4.1 17th century: English contact
* 4.2 18th century
* 4.2.1 Scots (and other Europeans) among the
Cherokee in the 18th
* 4.3 19th century
* 4.3.1 Acculturation
* 4.3.2 Removal era
Trail of Tears
Trail of Tears
* 184.108.40.206 Eastern Band
* 4.3.3 Civil War
* 4.3.4 Reconstruction and late 19th century
* 5 Culture
* 5.1 Cultural institutions
* 5.2 Marriage
* 5.3 Ethnobotany
* 6 Language and writing system
* 7 Treaties and government
* 7.1 Treaties
* 7.2 Government
* 8 Modern
Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians
United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians
* 8.4 Relations among the three federally recognized
* 9 Contemporary settlement
* 10 Membership controversies
* 10.1 Tribal recognition and membership
* 11 Notable historical
* 12 See also
* 13 Notes
* 14 References
* 15 External links
Cherokee language name for
Cherokee people is Aniyvwiyaʔi
(ᎠᏂᏴᏫᏯ), translating as "Principal People."
Many theories—though none proven—abound about the origin of the
name "Cherokee". It may have originally been derived from the Choctaw
word _Cha-la-kee_, which means "people who live in the mountains", or
Choctaw _Chi-luk-ik-bi_, meaning "people who live in the cave
country". The earliest Spanish transliteration of the name, from
1755, is recorded as _Tchalaquei_. Another theory is that "Cherokee"
derives from a Lower Creek word, _Cvlakke_ ("chuh-log-gee"). The
Iroquois Five Nations based in New York have historically called the
Cherokee _Oyata’ge'ronoñ_ ("inhabitants of the cave country").
_Tsalagi_ is the
Cherokee (ᏣᎳᎩ) word for Cherokee.
Great Smoky Mountains
Anthropologists and historians have two main theories of Cherokee
origins. One is that the Cherokee, an
Iroquoian -speaking people, are
relative latecomers to Southern
Appalachia , who may have migrated in
late prehistoric times from northern areas around the Great Lakes, the
traditional territory of the _
Haudenosaunee _ nations and other
Iroquoian-speaking peoples. Another theory is that the
been in the Southeast for thousands of years.
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 region in ancient times. They may have
moved south into
Muscogee Creek territory and settled at the sites of
mounds built by the
Mississippian culture and earlier moundbuilders.
In the 19th century, European-American settlers mistakenly attributed
Mississippian culture sites in Georgia to the Cherokee,
including Moundville and Etowah Mounds . However, other evidence shows
Cherokee did not reach this part of Georgia until the late
18th century and could not have built the mounds.
Cherokee are considered to be part of the later Pisgah
Phase 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 ,
Indians in the region began to cultivate plants such as marsh elder ,
lambsquarters , pigweed , sunflowers , and some native squash . People
created new art forms such as shell gorgets , adopted new
technologies, and developed an elaborate cycle of religious
Mississippian Culture -period (800 to 1500 CE), local
women developed a new variety of maize (corn) called eastern flint
corn . It closely resembled modern corn and produced larger crops. The
successful cultivation of corn surpluses allowed the rise of larger,
more complex chiefdoms consisting of 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 .
Much of what is known about pre-18th-century Native American cultures
has come from records of Spanish expeditions. The earliest ones of the
mid-16th-century encountered people of the
Mississippian culture , the
ancestors to later tribes in the Southeast such as the Muscogee
(Creek) and Catawba . Specifically in 1540-41, a Spanish expedition
Hernando de Soto passed through what was later characterized as
Cherokee country by English colonists based on their historical
encounter. De Soto's expedition visited villages in present-day
western Georgia and eastern Tennessee, recording them as ruled by the
Coosa chiefdom . It is now considered to be a chiefdom ancestral to
Muscogee Creek people , who are from a different language and
cultural group. The Spanish recorded a CHALAQUE nation as living
Keowee River where North Carolina, South Carolina, and
Georgia meet. As some of this work was not translated into English
until the 20th century, alternative views had developed among
English-speaking historians, related to the limited understanding by
English colonists of historic Native American cultures in the
Southeast. In addition, the dominance of English colonists in the
Southeast led to a discounting of Spanish sources for some time in
their construction of history of the area.
The American writer
John Howard Payne 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 priestly, 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. After warfare, the warriors required purification by the
priestly class before participants could reintegrate into normal
village life. This hierarchy had disappeared long before the 18th
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
James Mooney , 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 that Mooney was studying the
people, the structure of
Cherokee religious practitioners was more
informal, based more on individual knowledge and ability than upon
Another major source of early cultural history comes from materials
written in the 19th century by the _didanvwisgi_ (ᏗᏓᏅᏫᏍᎩ),
Cherokee medicine men , after
Sequoyah 's creation of the Cherokee
syllabary in the 1820s. Initially only the _didanvwisgi_ learned to
write and read such materials, which were considered extremely
powerful in a spiritual sense. Later, the syllabary and writings were
widely adopted by the
Unlike most other Indians in the American Southeast at the start of
the historic era, the
Cherokee spoke an
Iroquoian language , an
indication of their migration from another area. Since the Great Lakes
region was the territory of most Iroquoian-language speakers, scholars
have theorized that the
Cherokee migrated south from that region. This
view is supported by the
Cherokee oral history tradition. According to
the scholars' theory, the Tuscarora , another Iroquoian-speaking
people who 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
Tuscarora people migrated South from other
Iroquoian-speaking people in the
Great Lakes region in ancient times.
After extended harsh warfare in the Southeast, in the 1700s, the
Tuscarora left the area and "returned" to the New York area, counting
their tribal migration complete by 1722. The
Iroquois Five Nations
accepted the Tuscarora as the Sixth Nation of their political
confederacy , known as the _Haudenosaunee_.
Linguistic analysis shows a relatively large difference between
Cherokee and the northern
Iroquoian languages, suggesting they had
migrated long ago. Scholars posit a split between the groups in the
distant past, perhaps 3500–3800 years ago.
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 as the original
Cherokee settlement in the Southeast.
It was formerly adjacent to and is now part of
Qualla Boundary (the
reserve of the
Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians ) in North Carolina.
17TH CENTURY: ENGLISH CONTACT
In 1657, there was a disturbance in
Virginia Colony as the
_Rechahecrians_ or _Rickahockans_, as well as the Siouan _
Nahyssan _, broke through the frontier and settled near the Falls
of the James, near present-day
Richmond, Virginia . The following
year, a combined force of English and
Pamunkey 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 ,
another Iroquoian-speaking people based near the Great Lakes. This
Iroquoian people had been driven away from the southern shore of Lake
Erie in 1654 by the powerful
Iroquois Five Nations, who were seeking
more hunting grounds. The anthropologist Martin Smith theorized some
remnants of the tribe migrated to Virginia after the wars
(1986:131–32 ), later becoming known as the
Westo to English in the
Carolina colony. A few historians suggest this tribe was Cherokee.
Virginian traders developed a small-scale trading system with the
Cherokee in the Piedmont before the end of the 17th century; the
earliest recorded Virginia trader to live among the
Cornelius Dougherty or Dority, in 1690. The
Cherokee were among the
Native American peoples who sold the traders Indian slaves for use as
laborers in Virginia and further north. They took them as captives in
raids on enemy tribes.
_ A c. 1724 English copy of a deerskin Catawba map of the
tribes between Charleston (left_) and Virginia (_right_) following the
displacements of a century of disease and enslavement and the 1715–7
Yamasee War . The
Cherokee are labelled as "Cherrikies". Further
Cherokee military history
Cherokee gave sanctuary to a band of
Shawnee in the 1660s, but
from 1710 to 1715 the
Chickasaw allied with the British,
and fought the Shawnee, who were allied with the French, and forced
them to move northward. The
Cherokee fought with the
Catawba , and British in late 1712 and early 1713 against the
Tuscarora in the Second
Tuscarora War . The
Tuscarora War marked the
beginning of a British-
Cherokee relationship that, despite breaking
down on occasion, remained strong for much of the 18th century. With
the growth of the deerskin trade , the
Cherokee were considered
valuable trading partners, since deer-skins from the cooler country of
their mountain hunting-grounds were of a better quality than those
supplied by the lowland tribes who were neighbors of the English
In January 1716,
Cherokee murdered a delegation of Muscogee Creek
leaders at the town of Tugaloo , marking their entry into the Yamasee
War . It ended in 1717 with peace treaties between the colony of South
Carolina and the Creek. Hostility and sporadic raids between the
Cherokee and Creek continued for decades. These raids came to a head
Battle of Taliwa in 1755, present-day
Ball Ground, Georgia ,
with the defeat of the Muscogee.
In 1721, the
Cherokee ceded lands in
South Carolina . In 1730, at
Nikwasi , a former
Mississippian culture site, a Scots adventurer, Sir
Alexander Cumming, crowned
Moytoy of Tellico as "Emperor" of the
Cherokee. Moytoy agreed to recognize King George II of Great Britain
Cherokee protector. Cumming arranged to take seven prominent
Cherokee, including _
Attakullakulla _, to
London , England. There the
Cherokee delegation signed the Treaty of Whitehall with the British.
Moytoy's son, _Amo-sgasite_ (Dreadful Water), attempted to succeed him
as "Emperor" in 1741, but the
Cherokee elected their own leader, Cunne
Standing Turkey ) of Chota .
Political power among the
Cherokee 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 epidemics broke out among the Cherokee, who had no
natural immunity to the new infectious disease. Nearly half their
population died within a year. Hundreds of other
suicide due to their losses and disfigurement from the disease.
Anglo-Cherokee War , bitterness remained between the two
groups. In 1765,
Henry Timberlake took three of the former Cherokee
London to help cement the newly declared friendship.
Henry Timberlake described the
Cherokee people as
he saw them in 1761:
The Cherokees are of a middle stature, of an olive colour, tho'
generally painted, and their skins stained with gun-powder, pricked
into it in very pretty figures. The hair of their head is shaved, tho'
many of the old people have it plucked out by the roots, except a
patch on the hinder part of the head, about twice the bigness of a
crown-piece, which is ornamented with beads, feathers, wampum ,
stained deers hair, and such like baubles. The ears are slit and
stretched to an enormous size, putting the person who undergoes the
operation to incredible pain, being unable to lie on either side for
nearly forty days. To remedy this, they generally slit but one at a
time; so soon as the patient can bear it, they wound round with wire
to expand them, and are adorned with silver pendants and rings, which
they likewise wear at the nose. This custom does not belong originally
to the Cherokees, but taken by them from the Shawnese , or other
They that can afford it wear a collar of wampum, which are beads cut
out of clam-shells, a silver breast-plate, and bracelets on their arms
and wrists of the same metal, a bit of cloth over their private parts,
a shirt of the English make, a sort of cloth-boots, and mockasons (sic
), which are shoes of a make peculiar to the Americans, ornamented
with porcupine-quills; a large mantle or match-coat thrown over all
complete their dress at home...
From 1753 to 1755, battles broke out between the
Muscogee over disputed hunting grounds in
North Georgia . The Cherokee
were victorious in the
Battle of Taliwa . British soldiers built forts
Cherokee country to defend against the French in the Seven Years\'
War , which was fought across Europe and was called the French and
Indian War on the North American front. These included Fort Loudoun
near Chota. In 1756 the
Cherokee were allies of the British in the
French and Indian War. Serious misunderstandings arose quickly between
the two allies, resulting in the 1760
Anglo-Cherokee War .
King George III's
Royal Proclamation of 1763 forbade British
settlements west of the Appalachian crest, as his government tried to
afford some protection from colonial encroachment to the
other tribes. The Crown found the ruling difficult to enforce with
In 1771–1772, North Carolinian settlers squatted on
in Tennessee, forming the
Watauga Association .
Daniel Boone and his
party tried to settle in Kentucky, but the Shawnee, Delaware ,
Cherokee attacked a scouting and forage party that included
Boone's son. The American Indians used this territory as a hunting
ground by right of conquest; it had hardly been inhabited for years.
The conflict in
Kentucky sparked the beginning of what was known as
Dunmore\'s War (1773–1774).
In 1776, allied with the
Shawnee led by
settlers in South Carolina, Georgia, Virginia, and
North Carolina in
Cherokee War .
Nancy Ward , Dragging
Canoe 's cousin, warned settlers of impending attacks. Provincial
militias retaliated, destroying more than 50
Cherokee towns. North
Carolina militia in 1776 and 1780 invaded and destroyed the Overhill
towns . In 1777, surviving
Cherokee town leaders signed treaties with
the new states.
Dragging Canoe and his band settled along
Chickamauga Creek near
Tennessee , where they established 11 new
towns. Chickamauga Town was his headquarters and the colonists tended
to call his entire band the Chickamauga to distinguish them from other
Cherokee. From here he fought a guerrilla war against settlers, which
lasted from 1776 to 1794. These are known informally as the
Cherokee–American wars, but this is not an historians' term. The
first Treaty of
Tellico Blockhouse , signed November 7, 1794, finally
brought peace between the
Cherokee and Americans, who had achieved
independence from the British Crown. In 1805, the
Cherokee ceded their
lands between the Cumberland and Duck rivers (i.e. the Cumberland
Plateau ) to
Scots (and Other Europeans) Among The
Cherokee In The 18th Century
The traders and British government agents dealing with the southern
tribes in general, and the
Cherokee in particular, were nearly all of
Scottish ancestry, with many documented as being from the Highlands .
A few were Scots-Irish, English, French, and German (see Scottish
Indian trade ). Many of these men married women from their host
peoples and remained after the fighting had ended. Some had mixed-race
children who would later become significant leaders among the Five
Civilized Tribes of the Southeast .
Notable traders, agents, and refugee Tories among the Cherokee
included John Stuart , Henry Stuart, Alexander Cameron, John McDonald,
Joseph Vann (father of
James Vann ), Daniel Ross (father of John
Ross ), John Walker Sr., John McLemore (father of Bob), William
Buchanan, John Watts (father of John Watts Jr. ), John D. Chisholm ,
John Benge (father of Bob Benge), Thomas Brown, John Rogers (Welsh),
John Gunter (German, founder of Gunter's Landing), James Adair
(Irish), William Thorpe (English), and Peter Hildebrand (German),
among many others. Some attained the honorary status of minor chiefs
and/or members of significant delegations.
By contrast, a large portion of the settlers encroaching on the
Native American territories were Scots-Irish , Irish from
were of Scottish descent and had been part of the English plantation
of northern Ireland. They also tended to support the Revolution. But
in the back country, there were also Scots-Irish who were Loyalists,
Simon Girty .
Cherokee lands between the
Tennessee and Chattahoochee rivers
were remote enough from white settlers to remain independent after the
Cherokee–American wars . The deerskin trade was no longer feasible
on their greatly reduced lands, and over the next several decades, the
people of the fledgling
Cherokee Nation began to build a new society
modeled on the white Southern United States. _ Portrait of Major
Ridge in 1834, from
History of the Indian Tribes of North America _.
George Washington sought to 'civilize' Southeastern American Indians,
through programs overseen by the
Benjamin Hawkins . He
Cherokee to abandon their communal land-tenure and
settle on individual farmsteads, which was facilitated by the
destruction of many American Indian towns during the American
Revolutionary War . The deerskin trade brought white-tailed deer to
the brink of extinction, and as pigs and cattle were introduced, they
became the principal sources of meat. The government supplied the
tribes with spinning wheels and cotton-seed, and men were taught to
fence and plow the land, in contrast to their traditional division in
which crop cultivation was woman's labor. Americans instructed the
women in weaving. Eventually Hawkins helped them set up smithys,
gristmills and cotton plantations.
Cherokee organized a national government under Principal Chiefs
Little Turkey (1788–1801), Black Fox (1801–1811), and Pathkiller
(1811–1827), all former warriors of
Dragging Canoe . The 'Cherokee
James Vann and his protégés The Ridge and Charles R.
Hicks advocated acculturation, formal education, and modern methods of
farming. In 1801 they invited Moravian missionaries from North
Carolina 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 school in
In 1806 a Federal Road from
Savannah, Georgia to Knoxville, Tennessee
was built through
Cherokee land. Chief
James Vann opened a tavern, inn
and ferry across the Chattahoochee and built a cotton-plantation on a
spur of the road from
Athens, Georgia to
Nashville . His son \'Rich
Joe\' Vann developed the plantation to 800 acres (3.2 km2), cultivated
by 150 slaves. He exported cotton to England, and owned a steamboat on
Tennessee River .
Cherokee allied with the U.S. against the nativist and
Red Stick faction of the Upper Creek in the Creek War
War of 1812 .
Cherokee warriors led by
Major Ridge played a
major role in General
Andrew Jackson 's victory at the Battle of
Horseshoe Bend .
Major Ridge moved his family to
Rome, Georgia , where
he built a substantial house , developed a large plantation and ran a
ferry on the
Oostanaula River . Although he never learned English, he
sent his son and nephews to New England to be educated in mission
schools. His interpreter and protégé Chief John Ross , the
descendant of several generations of
Cherokee women and Scots
fur-traders, built a plantation and operated a trading firm and a
ferry at Ross' Landing (Chattanooga,
Tennessee ). During this period,
divisions arose between the acculturated elite and the great majority
of Cherokee, who clung to traditional ways of life.
Sequoyah 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 as a warrior at Horseshoe
Bend, convinced him the
Cherokee needed to develop writing. In 1821,
Cherokee syllabary , the first written syllabic form of
an American Indian language outside of Central America . Initially his
innovation was opposed by both
Cherokee traditionalists and white
missionaries, who sought to encourage the use of English. When
Sequoyah taught children to read and write with the syllabary, he
reached the adults. By the 1820s, the
Cherokee had a higher rate of
literacy than the whites around them in Georgia. Cherokee
National Council building,
In 1819, the
Cherokee began holding council meetings at New Town, at
the headwaters of the Oostanaula (near present-day
Calhoun, Georgia ).
In November 1825, New Town became the capital of the
and was renamed
New Echota , after the
Overhill Cherokee principal
town of Chota . Sequoyah's syllabary was adopted. They had developed
a police force, a judicial system, and a National Committee.
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 . Convinced the tribe's survival
required English-speaking leaders who could negotiate with the U.S.,
the legislature appointed John Ross as Principal Chief. A printing
press was established at
New Echota by the
Vermont missionary Samuel
Worcester and Major Ridge's nephew
Elias Boudinot , who had taken the
name of his white benefactor , a leader of the Continental Congress
New Jersey Congressman. They translated the Bible into Cherokee
syllabary . Boudinot published the first edition of the bilingual
Cherokee Phoenix ,' the first American Indian newspaper, in February
Thomas Jefferson and Indian Removal Tah-Chee (Dutch),
Cherokee Chief, 1837
Before the final removal to present-day Oklahoma, many Cherokees
relocated to present-day
Missouri and Texas. Between 1775
and 1786 the Cherokee, along with people of other nations such as the
Chickasaw , began voluntarily settling along the Arkansas
and Red Rivers .
In 1802, the federal government promised to extinguish Indian titles
to lands claimed by Georgia in return for Georgia's cession of the
western lands that became
Mississippi . 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 to the southern bank of the White
River . Di\'wali (The Bowl),
Sequoyah , Spring Frog and Tatsi (Dutch)
and their bands settled there. These Cherokees became known as "Old
The Cherokee, eventually, migrated as far north as the Missouri
Bootheel by 1816. They lived interspersed among the Delawares and
Shawnees of that area. The
Missouri Territory 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 led to the Battle of
Mound and the eventual establishment of Fort Smith between
Cherokee and Osage communities. In the
Treaty of St. Louis (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
Missouri and Territory of Arkansas..." to make room for the
Cherokee and the _Mashcoux_, Muscogee Creeks . As late as the winter
Cherokee and Creek living in the
petitioned the War Department to remove the Osage from the area.
A group of
Cherokee traditionalists led by _Di\'wali_ moved to
Spanish Texas in 1819. Settling near Nacogdoches , they were welcomed
by Mexican authorities as potential allies against Anglo-American
Texas Cherokees were mostly neutral during the Texas
War of Independence . In 1836, they signed a treaty with Texas
Sam Houston , an adopted member of the
Cherokee tribe. His
Mirabeau Lamar sent militia to evict them in 1839.
Trail Of Tears
Trail of Tears
Trail of Tears and
Cherokee Removal Chief John
Ross , ca. 1840
During the first decades of the 19th century, Georgia focused on
removing the Cherokee's neighbors, the Lower Creek . The Georgia
George Troup and his cousin
William McIntosh , chief of the
Lower Creek, signed the
Treaty of Indian Springs (1825) , ceding the
Muscogee (Creek) lands claimed by Georgia. The state's
northwestern border reached the Chattahoochee , the border of the
Cherokee Nation. In 1829, gold was discovered at Dahlonega , on
Cherokee land claimed by Georgia. The
Georgia Gold Rush was the first
in U.S. history, and state officials demanded that the federal
government expel the Cherokee. When
Andrew Jackson was inaugurated as
President in 1829, Georgia gained a strong ally in Washington . In
1830 Congress passed the
Indian Removal Act , authorizing the forcible
relocation of American Indians east of the
Mississippi to a new Indian
Andrew Jackson 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 , the Narragansett , and the Delaware " had
suffered. But, there is ample evidence that the
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.
Cherokee brought their grievances to a US judicial review that
set a precedent in
Indian Country . John Ross traveled to Washington,
D.C., and won support from
National Republican Party leaders Henry
Daniel Webster .
Samuel Worcester campaigned on behalf of the
Cherokee in New England, where their cause was taken up by Ralph Waldo
Emerson (see Emerson\'s 1838 letter to
Martin Van Buren ). In June
1830, a delegation led by Chief Ross defended
Cherokee rights before
the U.S. Supreme Court in _
Cherokee Nation v. Georgia _.
In 1831 Georgia militia arrested
Samuel Worcester for residing on
Indian lands without a state permit, imprisoning him in Milledgeville
. In _
Worcester v. Georgia _ (1832), the US Supreme Court Chief
John Marshall 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 . _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 . His landslide reelection in 1832 emboldened calls for
Cherokee removal. Georgia sold
Cherokee lands to its citizens in a
Land Lottery , and the state militia occupied
New Echota . The
Cherokee National Council, led by John Ross, fled to Red Clay , a
remote valley north of Georgia's land claim. Ross had the support of
Cherokee traditionalists, who could not imagine removal from their
Cherokee beadwork sampler, made at Dwight
Mission , Indian Territory, 19th century, collection of the Oklahoma
History Center .
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
Major Ridge ,
John Ridge and
Elias Boudinot , 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 , 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 , $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 ordered 7,000 Federal
troops and state militia under General
Winfield Scott into Cherokee
lands to evict the tribe. Over 16,000
Cherokee were forcibly relocated
Indian Territory in 1838–1839, a migration known as the
Trail of Tears
Trail of Tears or in
Cherokee ᏅᎾ ᏓᎤᎳ ᏨᏱ or _Nvna Daula
Tsvyi_ (_The Trail Where They Cried_), although it is described by
another word _Tlo-va-sa_ (_The Removal_). Marched over 800 miles
(1,300 km) across
Arkansas , the people suffered from disease, exposure and starvation,
and as many as 4,000 died. As some Cherokees were slaveholders, they
took enslaved African Americans with them west of the Mississippi.
Intermarried European Americans and missionaries also walked the Trail
of Tears. Ross preserved a vestige of independence by negotiating
permission for the
Cherokee to conduct their own removal under U.S.
In keeping with the tribe's "blood law" that prescribed the death
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
fought and survived that day, escaping to
Sequoyah had led a delegation of Old Settlers to Washington,
D.C. 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
Cól-lee, a Band Chief, painted by
George Catlin , 1834
Cherokee of the
Great Smoky Mountains 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 to
North Carolina in 1819, they withdrew from the Nation. William
Holland Thomas , a white store owner and state legislator from Jackson
North Carolina , helped over 600
Cherokee from Qualla Town
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 (ᏣᎵ), or
belonged to the former Valley Towns area around the
Cheoah River who
negotiated with the state government to stay in North Carolina. An
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
Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians , and some of the
state-recognized tribes in surrounding states.
Cherokee confederates reunion in
New Orleans , 1903. Further
Cherokee in the American Civil War and Native Americans
in the Civil War
American Civil War was devastating for both East and Western
Cherokee. The Eastern Band, aided by William Thomas , became the
Thomas Legion of
Cherokee Indians and Highlanders, fighting for the
Confederacy in the
American Civil War .
Cherokee in Indian Territory
divided into Union and Confederate factions, with most supporting the
Stand Watie , the leader of the Ridge Party, raised a regiment for
Confederate service in 1861. John Ross , 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 and Arkansas
, capturing Union supply trains and steamboats , and saving a
Confederate army by covering their retreat after the Battle of Pea
Ridge 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 with the Union Army. On June 25,
1865, two months after
Robert E. Lee surrendered at Appomattox , Stand
Watie became the last Confederate General to stand down.
Reconstruction And Late 19th Century
William Penn (Cherokee), His Shield (Yanktonai), Levi Big Eagle
(Yanktonai), Bear Ghost (Yanktonai) and Black Moustache (Sisseton).
After the Civil War, the US government required the
to sign a new treaty, because of its alliance with the Confederacy.
The US required the 1866 Treaty to provide for the emancipation of all
Cherokee slaves, and full citizenship to all
Cherokee freedmen and all
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.
Freedmen have been active politically within the tribe.
The US government also acquired easement rights to the western part
of the territory, which became the
Oklahoma Territory , 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
Dawes Act 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-
Curtis Act of 1898 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 of
Indian Territory proposed the creation of the State of
one to be exclusively Native American, but failed to gain support in
Washington, D.C.. In 1907, the
Oklahoma and Indian Territories entered
the union as the state of
Oklahoma . Map of present-day Cherokee
Nation Tribal Jurisdiction Area (dark blue)
By the late 19th century, the Eastern Band of
Cherokee were laboring
under the constraints of a segregated 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 that divided society into "white" and "colored", mostly to
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 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
The Qualla Arts and Crafts Mutual, Inc., of Cherokee, North Carolina
is the oldest continuing Native American art co-operative. They were
founded in 1946 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 entered into a
partnership with Southwestern Community College and Western Carolina
University 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 offered
an associate's degree program. In August 2010, OICA acquired a
letterpress and had the
Cherokee syllabary recast to begin printing
one-of-a-kind fine art books and prints in the
Cherokee language . In
2012, the Fine Art degree program at OICA was incorporated into
Southwestern Community College and moved to the SCC Swain Center,
where it continues to operate.
Cherokee Heritage Center , of Park Hill,
Oklahoma 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
(of Oklahoma) and the
United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee , as well as
other tribes, contribute funding to the CHC.
Before the 19th century, polygamy was common among the Cherokee,
especially by elite men. The matrilineal culture meant that women
controlled property, such as their dwellings, and their children were
considered born into their mother's clan , where they gained
hereditary status. Advancement to leadership positions was generally
subject to approval by the women elders. In addition, the society was
matrifocal ; customarily, a married couple lived with or near the
woman's family, so she could be aided by her female relatives. Her
oldest brother was a more important mentor to her sons than was their
father, who belonged to another clan. Traditionally, couples,
particularly women, can divorce freely.
It was unusual for a
Cherokee man to marry a European-American woman.
The children of such a union were disadvantaged, as they would not
belong to the nation. They would be born outside the clans and
traditionally were not considered
Cherokee citizens. This is because
of the matrilineal aspect of
Cherokee culture. As the
to adopt some elements of European-American culture in the early 19th
century, they sent elite young men, such as
John Ridge and Elias
Boudinot to American schools for education. After Ridge had married a
European-American woman from
Connecticut and Boudinot was engaged to
Cherokee Council in 1825 passed a law making children of
such unions full citizens of the tribe, as if their mothers were
Cherokee. This was a way to protect the families of men expected to be
leaders of the tribe.
In the late nineteenth century, the US government put new
restrictions on marriage between a
Cherokee and non-Cherokee, although
it was still relatively common. A European-American man could legally
Cherokee woman by petitioning the federal court, after gaining
approval of ten of her blood relatives. Once married, the man had
status as an "Intermarried White," a member of the
Cherokee tribe with
restricted rights; for instance, he could not hold any tribal office.
He remained a citizen of and under the laws of the United States.
Common law marriages were more popular. Such "Intermarried Whites"
were listed in a separate category on the registers of the Dawes Rolls
, prepared for allotment of plots of land to individual households of
members of the tribe, in the early twentieth-century federal policy
for assimilation of the Native Americans.
LANGUAGE AND WRITING SYSTEM
Cherokee language and
Sequoyah , the inventor of the
Cherokee speak a Southern
Iroquoian language, which is
polysynthetic and is written in a syllabary invented by Sequoyah
(ᏍᏏᏉᏯ). 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 , 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_
(ᏗᏘᏲᎯᎯ), which means "he argues repeatedly and on purpose
with a purpose," meaning "attorney." Another example is _didaniyisgi_
(ᏗᏓᏂᏱᏍᎩ) 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 _ga-so-li-ne_ (ᎦᏐᎵᏁ).
Many other words were borrowed from the languages of tribes who
Oklahoma in the early 20th century. One example relates to
a town in
Oklahoma named "Nowata". The word _nowata_ is a Delaware
Indian word for "welcome" (more precisely the Delaware word is
_nu-wi-ta_ 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_
(ᎠᎹᏗᎧᏂᎬᎾᎬᎾ) which means "the water is all gone from
here", i.e. "no water".
Other examples of borrowed words are _kawi_ (ᎧᏫ) for _coffee_ and
_watsi_ (ᏩᏥ) for _watch_ (which led to _utana watsi_ (ᎤᏔᎾ
ᏩᏥ) or "big watch" for _clock_).
The following table is an example of
Cherokee text and its
ᏣᎳᎩ: ᏂᎦᏓ ᎠᏂᏴᏫ ᏂᎨᎫᏓᎸᎾ ᎠᎴ
ᎤᏂᏠᏱ ᎤᎾᏕᎿ ᏚᏳᎧᏛ ᎨᏒᎢ. ᎨᏥᏁᎳ
ᎤᎾᏓᏅᏖᏗ ᎠᎴ ᎤᏃᏟᏍᏗ ᎠᎴ ᏌᏊ ᎨᏒ
ᏧᏂᎸᏫᏍᏓᏁᏗ ᎠᎾᏟᏅᏢ ᎠᏓᏅᏙ ᎬᏗ.
Tsalagi : _Nigada aniyvwi nigeguda'lvna ale unihloyi unadehna
duyukdv gesv'i. Gejinela unadanvtehdi ale unohlisdi ale sagwu gesv
junilvwisdanedi anahldinvdlv adanvdo gvhdi._
_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 )_
TREATIES AND GOVERNMENT
Historic treaties of the Cherokee
Cherokee have participated in at least thirty-six treaties in the
past three hundred years.
Establishment of the
Cherokee National Council and officers over
the whole nation
Establishment of the
Cherokee Lighthorse Guard, a national police
Establishment of the National Committee
End of separate regional councils and abolition of blood vengeance
Establishment of courts in eight districts to handle civil disputes
Cherokee Supreme Court established
National Committee given power to review acts of the National
Constitution of the
Cherokee Nation East
Constitution of the
Cherokee Nation West
Suspension of elections in the
Cherokee Nation East
Constitution of the reunited
Constitution of the Eastern Band of
Charter of Incorporation issued by the State of
North Carolina to
the Eastern Band
Constitution and federal charter of the United Keetoowah Band of
Constitution of the
Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma
Constitution of the
Cherokee Nation drafted
After being ravaged by smallpox, and feeling pressure from European
Cherokee adopted a European-American Representative
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
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
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.
MODERN CHEROKEE TRIBES
Flag of the
Cherokee Nation Main article:
Cherokee Nation Historic Courthouse in Tahlequah, Oklahoma.
Cherokee Female Seminary was built in 1889 by the Oklahoma
During 1898–1906 the federal government dissolved the former
Cherokee Nation, to make way for the incorporation of Indian Territory
into the new state of
Oklahoma . 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 CN
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.
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
Bill John Baker , has significant business,
corporate, real estate, and agricultural interests. 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
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 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
The CN hosts the
Cherokee National Holiday on Labor Day weekend each
year, and 80,000 to 90,000
Cherokee Citizens travel to Tahlequah,
Oklahoma , for the festivities. It publishes the
Cherokee Phoenix ,
the tribal newspaper, published in both English and the Sequoyah
Cherokee Nation council appropriates money for historic
foundations concerned with the preservation of
Cherokee Nation supports the
Cherokee Nation Film Festivals in
Oklahoma and participates in the
Sundance Film Festival in
Park City, Utah
Park City, Utah .
EASTERN BAND OF CHEROKEE INDIANS
Flag of the Eastern Band
Cherokee Main article: Eastern Band
The Eastern Band of the
Cherokee Indians in North Carolina, led by
Chief Patrick Lambert, hosts over a million visitors a year to
cultural attractions of the 100-square-mile (260 km2) sovereign
nation. The reservation, the "
Qualla Boundary ", has a population of
over 8,000 Cherokee, primarily direct descendants of Indians who
managed to avoid "The
Trail of Tears
Trail of Tears ".
Attractions include the Oconaluftee Indian Village, Museum of the
Cherokee Indian, and the Qualla Arts and Crafts Mutual. Founded in
1946, the Qualla Arts and Crafts Mutual is country's oldest and
foremost Native American crafts cooperative. The outdoor drama _Unto
These Hills _, 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
Flag of the
United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians Main
United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians
United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians formed their government
Indian Reorganization Act 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
Indian Territory before the Trail of Tears. Of the 12,000 people
enrolled in the tribe, 11,000 live in Oklahoma. Their chief is Joe
Bunch. 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 issues their own tribal vehicle tags.
RELATIONS AMONG THE THREE FEDERALLY RECOGNIZED CHEROKEE TRIBES
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
The administrations of the
United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians
Cherokee Nation have a somewhat adversarial relationship. The
Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians interacts with the
Cherokee Nation in
a unified spirit of _
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.
Cherokees are most concentrated in
Oklahoma and North Carolina, but
some reside in the
US West Coast , due to economic migrations caused
Dust Bowl during the Great Depression, job availability during
the Second World War, and the Federal Indian Relocation program during
the 1950s–1960s. Cherokees constitute over 2% of population of three
largely rural communities in California–Covelo , Hayfork and San
Miguel , one town in
Oregon and one town in
Arizona . Destinations for
Cherokee diaspora included multi-ethnic/racial urban centers of
California (i.e. the Greater Los Angeles and SF Bay areas ), and they
usually live in farming communities, by military bases and other
TRIBAL RECOGNITION AND MEMBERSHIP
Cherokee Heritage Groups
Cherokee tribes have differing requirements for enrollment.
Cherokee Nation determines enrollment by lineal descent from
Cherokees listed on the
Dawes Rolls and has no minimum blood quantum
requirement. Currently, descendents of the Dawes
rolls are members of the tribe, pending court decisions. The Cherokee
Nation includes numerous members who have African-American, Latino
American, Asian American, 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
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 316,049 people were enrolled in the
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 , 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 . Before 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
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 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 either the
Guion-Miller or Old settler rolls.
While most Mount Tabor residents returned to the
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 . 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 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
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
varying levels of genealogical proof that applicants are of Cherokee
descent. Current enrollment guidelines of the
Cherokee Nation of
Oklahoma have been approved by the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Such
facts were pointed out by
Cherokee citizens of CN during the
Constitutional Convention held to ratify a new governing document. The
document that was eventually ratified by a small portion of the
electorate. However, the tribe does not have the power to change its
membership procedures and maintain federal recognition. Any changes to
the tribe's enrollment procedures must be approved by the Department
of Interior. Under 25 CFR 83 the Office of Federal Acknowledgment is
required to first apply its own anthropological, genealogical, and
historical research methods to any request for change by the tribe. It
then forwards its recommendations to the Assistant Secretary - Indian
Affairs for consideration.
Cherokee freedmen, descendants of African American slaves owned
by citizens of the
Cherokee Nation during the
Antebellum Period , were
Cherokee citizenship under a treaty with the United
States in 1866. This was in the wake of the
American Civil War , 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
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
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
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
Cherokee by blood on the Dawes roll, which did not include
Cherokee descendants of slaves,
Shawnee and Delaware. The
Freedmen had 90 days to appeal this amendment vote which
disenfranchised them from
Cherokee citizenship and file appeal within
Cherokee Nation Tribal Council, which is currently pending in
_Nash, et al. v.
Cherokee Nation Registrar_. On May 14, 2007, the
Freedmen were reinstated as citizens of 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 HISTORICAL CHEROKEE PEOPLE
This includes only
Cherokee documented in history. Contemporary
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 (1830–1880),
Cherokee senator and diplomat,
Attakullakulla (ca. 1708 – ca. 1777), diplomat to Britain,
headman of Chota, chief
Bob Benge (ca. 1762–1794), warrior of the Lower
the Cherokee–American wars
Elias Boudinot , _Galagina_ (1802–1839), statesman, orator, and
editor, founded first
Cherokee newspaper, _
Ned Christie (1852–1892), statesman,
Cherokee Nation senator,
Joseph J. Clark (1893–1971),
United States Navy, highest
ranking Native American in the US military, awarded the
Navy Cross .
Doublehead , _Taltsuska_ (d. 1807), a war leader during the
Cherokee–American wars , led the Lower Cherokee, signed land deals
Dragging Canoe , _Tsiyugunsini_ (1738–1792), general of the
Cherokee during the Cherokee–American wars, principal chief
of the Chickamauga (or Lower Cherokee)
Franklin Gritts ,
Cherokee artist taught at Haskell Institute and
served on the USS Franklin
Charles R. Hicks (d. 1827), veteran of the
Red Stick War , Second
Principal Chief to
Pathkiller in early 17th century, de facto
Principal Chief from 1813 to 1827
Junaluska (ca. 1775–1868), veteran of the Creek War, who saved
President Andrew Jackson's life
Oconostota , _Aganstata_ (Beloved Man) (ca. 1710–1783), war
chief during the Anglo-
Ostenaco , _Ustanakwa_ (ca. 1703–1780), war chief, diplomat to
Britain, founded the town of Ultiwa
Major Ridge _Ganundalegi_ or
Pathkiller (ca.1771–1839), veteran
Cherokee–American wars and the
Red Stick War, signer of the
Treaty of New Echota
John Ridge , _Skatlelohski_ (1792–1839), son of Major Ridge,
New Echota Treaty signer
John Rollin Ridge , _Cheesquatalawny_, or Yellow Bird
(1827–1867), grandson of Major Ridge, first Native American novelist
R. Lynn Riggs (1899–1954), author, poet, and playwright; his
play _Green Grow the Lilacs_ was the basis of the Broadway hit
* Clement V. Rogers (1839–1911), US Senator, judge, cattleman,
member of the
Oklahoma Constitutional Convention
Will Rogers (1879–1935), entertainer, roper, journalist, and
* John Ross , _Guwisguwi_ (1790–1866), veteran of the Red Stick
War, Principal Chief in the east, during Removal, and in the west
Sequoyah (ca. 1767–1843), inventor of the
Nimrod Jarrett Smith , _Tsaladihi_ (1837–1893), Principal Chief
of the Eastern Band, Civil War veteran
Redbird Smith (1850–1918), traditionalist, political activist,
and chief of the Nighthawk Keetoowah Society
William Holland Thomas (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
Tom Threepersons (1889—1969),
Cherokee lawman from Vinita,
James Vann (ca. 1765–1809), Scottish-Cherokee, highly successful
businessman and veteran of the Cherokee–American wars
Nancy Ward , _Nanye'hi_ (Beloved Woman) (ca. 1736–1822/4),
Stand Watie , _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.
* Book: The
* Indigenous peoples of North America portal
* Black Indians in the
* ^ "Pocket Pictorial." Archived April 6, 2010, at the Wayback
Machine . _
Oklahoma Indian Affairs Commission._ 2010: 6 and 37.
(retrieved June 11, 2010)
* ^ _A_ _B_ Smithers, Gregory D. (1 October 2015). "Why Do So Many
Americans Think They Have
Cherokee Blood?". _www.slate.com_. Retrieved
24 April 2017.
* ^ _A_ _B_ _C_ "American FactFinder". _factfinder.census.gov_.
2014. Retrieved 24 April 2017. Community Facts (Georgia), 2014
American Community Survey, Demographic and Housing Estimates (Age,
Sex, Race, Households and Housing, ...)
* ^ Sturtevant and Fogelson, 613
* ^ Minges, Patrick, "Middle and Valley Towns in Western North
Cherokee Prayer Initiative Journal._ 1999 (retrieved June
* ^ Sturtevant, William C.; Fogelson, Raymond D., eds. (2004).
_Handbook of North American Indians: Southeast, Volume 14_.
Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution. p. ix. ISBN 0-16-072300-0 .
* ^ Cite error: The named reference omniglot was invoked but never
defined (see the help page ).
* ^ "Tribal Directory: Southeast". _National Congress of American
Indians_. Retrieved 9 June 2017.
* ^ Charles Kappler (1904). "INDIAN AFFAIRS: LAWS AND TREATIES Vol.
II, Treaties". Government Printing Office. Retrieved January 29, 2013.
_Note:_ Article 8 in the 1817 treaty as quoted, is mostly about
certain land use rights (East of the
Mississippi ), which might be
retained by certain "Indians " if they met certain conditions --
namely, if they "wish to become citizens of the United States".
However, in so doing, Article 8 _implies_ that such "Indians " (living
East of the
Mississippi ) who "wish to become citizens of the United
States", could (would be allowed to) become citizens of the United
States. It seems to (be worded so as to) anticipate a future (after
1817) in which lands West of the
Mississippi would remain
(territories of, or) outside the boundaries of, the United States.
* ^ "The American Indian and Alaska Native Population: 2010" (PDF).
_Census 2010 Brief_. February 1, 2002. Retrieved January 29, 2013.
Cherokee Indians. _The
Trail of Tears
Trail of Tears and the Creation of the
Eastern Band of Cherokees._. Retrieved 3 June 2014
Cherokee Indian Tribe. _Access Genealogy._ (September 21, 2009)
* ^ Charles A. Hanna, _The Wilderness Trail_, (New York: 1911).
* ^ Martin and Mauldin, _A Dictionary of Creek/Muskogee._
Sturtevant and Fogelson, p. 349
* ^ "Cherokee: A Language of the United States". _
Languages of the World_.
SIL International . 2013. Retrieved 20 Oct
* ^ Mooney, James (2006) . _Myths of the
Cherokee and Sacred
Formulas of the Cherokees_. Kessinger Publishing. p. 393. ISBN
* ^ Sturtevant and Fogelson, 132
* ^ Finger, 6–7
* ^ Mooney
* ^ _A_ _B_ _C_ Irwin 1992.
* ^ Mooney, p. 392.
* ^ David Landy, "Tuscarora", _Encyclopedia of North American
Indians_, Cengage Learning Website, Houghton Mifflin Company, accessed
January 12, 2010.
* ^ _A_ _B_ Mooney, James (1995) . _Myths of the Cherokee_. Dover
Publications . ISBN 0-486-28907-9 .
Glottochronology from: Lounsbury, Floyd (1961), and Mithun,
Marianne (1981), cited in Nicholas A. Hopkins, _The Native Languages
of the Southeastern United States_.
* ^ Hamilton, Chuck (21 January 2016). "Lost Nation of the Erie
Part 1". _www.chattanoogan.com_. Retrieved 24 April 2017.
* ^ Conley, _A
Cherokee Encyclopedia_, p. 3
* ^ Mooney, _Myths of the Cherokee_ p. 31.
* ^ Lewis Preston Summers, 1903, _History of Southwest Virginia,
1746–1786_, p. 40
* ^ Gallay, Alan (2002). _The Indian Slave Trade: The Rise of the
English Empire in the American South 1670–1717_. Yale University
Press. ISBN 0-300-10193-7 .
* ^ Vicki Rozema, _Footsteps of the Cherokees_ (1995), p. 14.
* ^ Oatis, Steven J. (2004). _A Colonial Complex: South Carolina's
Frontiers in the Era of the
Yamasee War, 1680–1730_. Lincoln:
University of Nebraska Press. ISBN 0-8032-3575-5 .
* ^ Brown, John P. "Eastern
Cherokee Chiefs", _Chronicles of
Oklahoma_, Vol. 16, No. 1, March 1938. Retrieved September 21, 2009.
* ^ Timberlake, Henry. "Memoirs of Henry Timberlake".
pp. 49-51. Missing or empty url= (help )
* ^ _A_ _B_ Rozema, pp. 17–23.
* ^ "Watauga Association", _
North Carolina History Project._ .
Retrieved September 21, 2009.
* ^ Mooney, James. _History, Myths, and Scared Formulas of the
Cherokee_, p. 83. (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1900).
* ^ "New Georgia Encyclopedia: Chief Vann House".
Georgiaencyclopedia.org. September 23, 2005. Retrieved April 17, 2010.
* ^ "
New Echota Historic Site". Ngeorgia.com. June 5, 2007.
Retrieved April 17, 2010.
* ^ "New Georgia Encyclopedia:
Georgiaencyclopedia.org. August 28, 2002. Retrieved April 17, 2010.
* ^ Rollings (1992) pp. 187, 230–255.
* ^ Rollings (1992) pp. 187, 236.
* ^ Logan, Charles Russell. "The Promised Land: The Cherokees,
Arkansas, and Removal, 1794–1839." Archived October 20, 2007, at the
Wayback Machine . _
Arkansas Historic Preservation Program._ 1997 .
Retrieved September 21, 2009.
* ^ Doublass (1912) pp. 40–2
* ^ Rollings (1992) p. 235.
* ^ Rollings (1992) pp. 239–40.
* ^ Rollings (1992) pp. 254–5, Doublass (1912) p. 44.
* ^ Rollings (1992) pp. 280–1
* ^ Wishart, p. 120
* ^ Wishart 1995.
* ^ "New Georgia Encyclopedia: "
Worcester v. Georgia (1832)"".
Georgiaencyclopedia.org. April 27, 2004. Retrieved April 17, 2010.
* ^ "Treaty of New Echota, Dec. 29, 1835 (
Cherokee – United
States)". Ourgeorgiahistory.com. Retrieved April 17, 2010.
* ^ "
Cherokee in Georgia: Treaty of New Echota". Ngeorgia.com. June
5, 2007. Retrieved April 17, 2010.
* ^ Georgia Historic Marker, New Echota, 1958
* ^ "Books by Alex W. Bealer". goodreads.com, 1972 and 1996.
Retrieved March 27, 2011.
* ^ Theda Purdue, _Native Carolinians: The Indians of North
Carolina_, pg. 40
* ^ "Tsali." _History and culture of the
Cherokee (North Carolina
Indians)._ (March 10, 2007)
* ^ "Will Thomas." _History and culture of the
Carolina Indians)._ (March 10, 2007)
* ^ "Treaty with the Cherokee, 1866." Archived June 30, 2010, at
Wayback Machine . _
Oklahoma Historical Society: Indian Affairs:
Laws and Treaties. Vol. 2, Treaties._ (retrieved January 10, 2010)
* ^ Qualla History. . Retrieved September 15, 09.
* ^ The Museum of the
Cherokee Indian. . Retrieved September 15,
* ^ "Announcement of the founding of the Oconaluftee Institute for
Cultural Arts in Cherokee" Archived May 27, 2010, at the Wayback
Machine ., Southwestern Community College (retrieved Nov 24, 2010)
* ^ "New Letterpress Arrives at OICA", _The One Feather_ (retrieved
Nov 24, 2010)
* ^ "OICA is gone, but not really", _The One Feather_ (retrieved
Mar 18, 2013)
* ^ "
Cherokee Heritage Center". Retrieved March 10, 2007.
* ^ _A_ _B_ Perdue (1999), p. 176
* ^ Perdue (1999), pp. 44, 57–8
* ^ Yarbough, Fay (2004). "Legislating Women's Sexuality: Cherokee
Marriage Laws". _Journal of Social History_. 38 (2): 385–406 . doi
* ^ Morand, Ann, Kevin Smith, Daniel C. Swan, and Sarah Erwin.
_Treasures of Gilcrease: Selections from the Permanent Collection._
Tulsa, OK: Gilcrease Museum,2003. ISBN 0-9725657-1-X
* ^ _A_ _B_ _C_ "
Cherokee syllabary". 1998–2009. Retrieved May
* ^ This constitution was approved by
Cherokee Nation voters in
2003 but was not approved by the BIA. The
Cherokee Nation then amended
their 1975 constitution to not require BIA approval. The 1999
constitution has been ratified but the
Cherokee Nation Supreme Court
is currently deciding what year the 1999 constitution officially went
into effect. Constitution of the
Cherokee Nation. (pdf file).
Cherokee Nation._ Retrieved March 5, 2009.
* ^ Perdue, p. 564.
* ^ Perdue, pp. 564–565.
* ^ Perdue, p. 566.
* ^ Constitution of the
Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma. _University of
Oklahoma Law Center._ (retrieved January 16, 2010)
* ^ Associated, The (July 13, 2009). "
Cherokee Nation likely to
appeal BIA decision
Indian Country Today Archive". Indian Country
Today. Archived from the original on October 7, 2009. Retrieved April
* ^ Qualla Arts and Crafts Mutual, Inc., _Smoky Mountain Host of
North Carolina_ (retrieved 1 July 2014)
* ^ Leeds, George R. United Keetoowah Band. _
Society's Encyclopedia of
Oklahoma History and Culture._ (retrieved
October 5, 2009)
Oklahoma Office of Indian Affairs.
Oklahoma Indian Nations
Pocket Pictorial Directory. Archived February 11, 2009, at the Wayback
Machine . 2008:36
* ^ "
Cherokee Ancestry Search –
Cherokee Genealogy by City".
ePodunk.com. Retrieved April 17, 2010.
Cherokee Nation Registration.
* ^ Enrollment. _United Keetoowah Band of Cherokees._ (retrieved
October 5, 2009)
* ^ "_We the People: American Indians and Alaska Natives in the
United State_" (PDF). , Census 2000
Special Reports, United States
* ^ Glenn, Eddie. "A League of Nations?" _Tahlequah Daily Press._
January 6, 2006 (retrieved October 5, 2009)
* ^ Glenn 2006.
* ^ Official Statement
Cherokee Nation 2000, Pierpoint 2000.
* Act of Congress Roll, 1854
* (Pre-convention – 1999) Oral and Written Testimonies
Cherokee Census Rolls, a follow-up
* Chapman Roll Eastern Cherokees, 1851
* Treaty with the Cherokee, 1817
* ^ "Freedman Decision" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on
February 13, 2007. Retrieved March 10, 2007.
Cherokee Constitutional Amendment March 3, 2007 Archived March
4, 2009, at the
Wayback Machine ..
* ^ "Nash, et al v.
Cherokee Nation Registrar" (PDF).
* ^ Gavin Off, "Judge grants
Cherokee citizenship to non-Indian
Tulsa World _, January 14, 2011.
* ^ "The Case of Ned Christie", Fort Smith Historic Site, National
Park Service. Retrieved February 3, 2009.
* ^ Carter JH. "Father and
Cherokee Tradition Molded Will Rogers".
Archived from the original on November 10, 2006. Retrieved March 10,
* ^ "Sequoyah", _New Georgia Encyclopedia_. Retrieved January 3,
* Doublass, Robert Sydney. "History of Southeast Missouri", 1992,
* Evans, E. Raymond. "Notable Persons in
Cherokee History: Dragging
Canoe". _Journal of
Cherokee Studies, Vol. 2, No. 2_, pp. 176–189.
(Cherokee: Museum of the
Cherokee Indian, 1977).
* Finger, John R. _
Cherokee Americans: The Eastern Band of Cherokees
in the 20th century_. Knoxville: University of
Tennessee Press, 1991.
ISBN 0-8032-6879-3 .
* Glenn, Eddie. "A league of nations?" _Tahlequah Daily Press_.
January 6, 2006 (Accessed May 24, 2007)
* Halliburton, R., jr.: _Red over Black – Black
Slavery among the
Cherokee Indians_, Greenwood Press, Westport,
* Irwin, L, "
Cherokee Healing: Myth, Dreams, and Medicine."
_American Indian Quarterly_. Vol. 16, 2, 1992, p. 237.
* Kelton, Paul. _
Cherokee Medicine, Colonial Germs: An Indigenous
Nation's Fight Against Smallpox._ Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma
* McLoughlin, William G. _
Cherokee Renascence in the New Republic_.
(Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1992).
* Mooney, James . "Myths of the Cherokees." Bureau of American
Ethnology, Nineteenth Annual Report, 1900, Part I. pp. 1–576.
Washington: Smithsonian Institution.
* Perdue, Theda. "
Clan and Court: Another Look at the Early Cherokee
Republic." _American Indian Quarterly_. Vol. 24, 4, 2000, p. 562.
* Perdue, Theda. _
Cherokee women: gender and culture change,
1700–1835._ Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1999.
* Pierpoint, Mary. "Unrecognized
Cherokee claims cause problems for
Indian Country Today_. August 16, 2000 (Accessed May 16,
* Rollings, Willard H. "The Osage: An Ethnohistorical Study of
Hegemony on the Prairie-Plains." (University of
Missouri Press, 1992)
* Royce, Charles C. _The
Cherokee Nation._ Piscataway, NJ:
Transaction Publishers, 2007.
* Sturtevant, William C., general editor and Raymond D. Fogelson,
volume editor. _Handbook of North American Indians: Southeast._ Volume
14. Washington DC: Smithsonian Institution, 2004. ISBN 0-16-072300-0 .
* Tortora, Daniel J. _Carolina in Crisis: Cherokees, Colonists, and
Slaves in the American Southeast, 1756–1763._ Chapel Hill, NC:
North Carolina Press, 2015.
* Wishart, David M. "Evidence of Surplus Production in the Cherokee
Nation Prior to Removal." _Journal of Economic History_. Vol. 55, 1,
1995, p. 120.
* _ This article incorporates text from a publication now in the
public domain : Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Cherokee". Encyclopædia
Britannica _ (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to CHEROKEE _.
CHEROKEE EDITION _ of , the free encyclopedia
Wikisource has the text of the 1879
American Cyclopædia _ article
Cherokee Nation, official site
* Eastern Band of
Cherokee Indians, official site
United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians, official site
* Museum of the