About 200 years ago the Cherokee Indians were one tribe, or “Indian Nation” that lived in the southeast part of what is now the United States. During the 1830’s and 1840’s, the period covered by the Indian Removal Act, many Cherokees were moved west to a territory that is now the State of Oklahoma.
Most scholars agree that the Cherokees, an Iroquoian-speaking people, have lived in what is today the Southeastern United States —Virginia, West Virginia, Kentucky, North and South Carolina, Georgia, and Alabama—since at least A.D. 1000.
The Cherokee homeland once occupied much of the southern Appalachians. This included the western sections of North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, most of eastern Kentucky and Tennessee, and the northern portions of Georgia and Alabama.
The Cherokee were southeastern woodland Indians, and in the winter they lived in houses made of woven saplings, plastered with mud and roofed with poplar bark. In the summer they lived in open-air dwellings roofed with bark. Today the Cherokee live in ranch houses, apartments, and trailers.
Where people of the Cherokee nation lived, in what is now North and South Carolina and Georgia, was a great place to live. It never got very cold – even in winter it hardly ever snowed – and it never got that hot either. In the summer, it did get pretty humid, as it does now. There was plenty of water, all year round.
4,000 years ago, ancestors of The Cherokee migrated from the American southwest to the Great Lakes region. After wars with the Delaware and Iroquois tribes of that area, the Cherokee made a permanent home in the Smoky Mountains of North Carolina and in South Carolina’s foothills.
Today’s Cherokee Indians Today, about 9,000 members of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians dwell on 57,000 acres in the North Carolina Mountains known as the Qualla Boundary, and on smaller parcels to the west.
Cherokee Society The Cherokees occupied a common homeland in the southern Appalachian Mountains known in Georgia as the Blue Ridge, including much of the northern third of the land that would become Georgia.
Cherokee Tribe History. Traditional, linguistic, and archeological evidence shows that the Cherokee originated in the north, but they were found in possession of the south Allegheny region when first encountered by De Soto in 1540. Their relations with the Carolina colonies began 150 years later.
Today, three Cherokee tribes are federally recognized: the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians (UKB) in Oklahoma, the Cherokee Nation (CN) in Oklahoma, and the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI) in North Carolina.
Benjamin Hawkins and the Creek Indians By 1800 many Cherokees lived on dispersed farmsteads in northeast Alabama. They established communities at Turkey Town, Wills Town, Sauta, Brooms Town, and Creek Path at Gunter’s Landing, all of which provided leadership within the Cherokee Nation.
There were plenty of deer and small animals like rabbits and squirrels to hunt, and lots of fish in the rivers. The Cherokee built fishing weirs – little dams – to create ponds that made it easier for them to catch fish in the rivers.
Cherokee dwellings were bark-roofed windowless log cabins, with one door and a smoke hole in the roof. A typical Cherokee settlement had between 30 and 60 such houses and a council house, where general meetings were held and a sacred fire burned.
Cherokee culture encompasses our longstanding traditions of language, spirituality, food, storytelling and many forms of art, both practical and beautiful. However, just like our people, Cherokee culture is not static or frozen in time, but is ever-evolving.