From the top, L-R:

John Ross or Tsanusdi; Colonel E. C. Boudinot Jr.; Samuel Smith; Lilly Smith: Walini; Marcia Pascal; Lillian Gross; William Penn; Thomas M. Cook

Total population
(Eastern Band: 13,000+, Cherokee Nation: 288,749, United Keetoowah Band: 14,300)[1]
Regions with significant populations
United States United States
(North Carolina North Carolina, Oklahoma Oklahoma)

English, Cherokee


Christianity, Kituhwa, Four Mothers Society,[2] Native American Church[3]

The Cherokee /ˈtʃɛrəkiː/ (Cherokee: ᏣᎳᎩ Tsalagi) are a Native American people historically settled in the Southeastern United States (principally Georgia, the Carolinas and East Tennessee). Linguistically, they are part of the Iroquoian language family. 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 region, where other Iroquoian-speaking peoples were located.[4]

In the 19th century, white settlers in the United States called the Cherokees one of the "Five Civilized Tribes", because they had assimilated numerous cultural and technological practices of European American settlers. According to the 2000 U.S. Census, the Cherokee Nation has more than 300,000 members, the largest of the 565 federally recognized Native American tribes in the United States.[5]

Of the three federally recognized Cherokee tribes, the Cherokee Nation 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 Arkansas and Oklahoma about 1817. The Cherokee Nation are related to the people who were forcibly relocated there in the 1830s under the Indian Removal Act. The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians is located on the Qualla Boundary in western North Carolina.

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.



The Cherokee refer to themselves as Tsalagi (ᏣᎳᎩ) or Aniyvwiyaʔi (ᎠᏂᏴᏫᏯᎢ), which means "Principal People." The Iroquois, 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 Cherokee. It may have originally been derived from the Choctaw 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".[6] The earliest Spanish rendering of Cherokee, from 1755, is Tchalaquei.[7] Another theory is that "Cherokee" derives from a Lower Creek word, Ciló-kki, meaning someone who speaks another language.[8] The most likely derivation, however, is an Anglicisation of their autonym, or name for themselves: Tsalagi in their language.[citation needed]


There are two prevailing views about 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, 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 region in ancient times.[4] 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 mounds built by Muscogee ancestors.[9] During early research, archeologists had mistakenly attributed several Mississippian culture sites to the Cherokee, including Moundville and Etowah Mounds. 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 of Southern Appalachia, which lasted from circa 1000 to 1500.[10] 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.[11][12] 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 followed an elaborate cycle of religious ceremonies. During the Mississippian Culture-period (800 to 1500 CE), local women developed a new variety of maize (corn) called eastern flint. 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.

Early culture

Cherokee beadwork sampler, made by Cherokees from Dwight Mission, Indian Territory, 19th century, collection of the Oklahoma History Center.

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 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, 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.[13] Ethnographer James Mooney, who studied the Cherokee in the late 1880s, was the first to trace the decline of the former hierarchy to this revolt.[14] By the time of Mooney, the structure of Cherokee religious practitioners was more informal, based more on individual knowledge and ability than upon heredity.[13]

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 adopted and used such materials, which were considered extremely powerful in a spiritual sense.[13] 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. Since the Great Lakes 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 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 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.[15]

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.[16] Glottochronology studies suggest the split occurred between about 1,500 and 1,800 BCE.[17] The Cherokee have claimed the ancient settlement of Kituwa on the Tuckasegee River, formerly next to and now part of Qualla Boundary (the reservation of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians), as the original Cherokee settlement in the Southeast.[16]


16th century: Spanish contact

Cherokee accompanied Sir Alexander Coming to England in 1730.

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, of the Mississippian culture. The Cherokee did not settle in this area until the early 18th century.[18] The Spanish noted the Chalaque nation as living around the Keowee River where North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia meet.[19] 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.[20]

A second Spanish expedition came through the interior in 1567 led by Juan Pardo. Spanish troops built six forts in the interior Southeast, including at the Mississippian chiefdom of Joara near present-day Morganton, North Carolina, where they named their installation Fort San Juan. This was the first European settlement in the interior.[21] They visited what were later Cherokee towns of Nikwasi, Estatoe, Tugaloo, Conasauga, and Kituwa. The indigenous people rose against the Spanish soldiers, killing all but one of the 120 stationed at the six forts, and burning all the forts.[21] The Spanish retreated to the coast.[22]

17th century: English contact

In 1654, there was a disturbance in Virginia Colony as the Rechahecrians or Rickahockans, as well as the Siouan Manahoac and 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. They had been driven away from the southern shore of Lake Erie by the powerful Iroquois Five Nations in 1654. The anthropologist Martin Smith theorized some remnants of the tribe migrated to Virginia after the wars (1986:131–32). Fewer historians suggest this tribe was Cherokee.[23]

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.[24] The Cherokee sold the traders Indian slaves for use as laborers in Virginia and further north.[25]

18th century

Three Cherokee diplomats in London, 1762

The Cherokees gave sanctuary to a band of Shawnee 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.[26] Cherokees fought with the Yamasee, Catawba, and British in late 1712 and early 1713 against the Tuscarora in the Second Tuscarora War. 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, 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, marking their entry into the Yamasee War. It ended in 1717 with peace treaties between South Carolina and the Creek. Hostility and sporadic raids between the Cherokee and Creek continued for decades.[27] These raids came to a head at the 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, an Englishman, Sir Alexander Cumming convinced Cherokees to crown Moytoy of Tellico as "Emperor." Moytoy agreed to recognize King George II of Great Britain 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 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) of Chota.[9]

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 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. Cherokees were victorious in the Battle of Taliwa. British soldiers built forts in Cherokee country to defend against the French, including Fort Loudoun near Chota. In 1756 the Cherokees fought with 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 Cherokee. The ruling was difficult to enforce.[28]

In 1771–1772, North Carolinian settlers squatted on Cherokee lands in Tennessee, forming the Watauga Association.[29] Daniel Boone and his party tried to settle in Kentucky, but the Shawnee, Delaware, Mingo, 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 (1773–1774).

In 1776, allied with the Shawnee led by Cornstalk, Cherokee attacked settlers in South Carolina, Georgia, Virginia, and North Carolina in the Second Cherokee War. Overhill Cherokee Nancy Ward, Dragging Canoe'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. In 1777 surviving Cherokee town leaders signed treaties with the states.

Dragging Canoe and his band moved near present-day Chattanooga, Tennessee, 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, signed 7 November 1794, ended the Chickamauga Wars. In 1805, the Cherokee ceded their lands between the Cumberland and Duck Rivers (i.e. the Cumberland Plateau) to Tennessee.

19th Century


The Cherokee lands between the Tennessee and Chattahoochee Rivers were remote enough from white settlers to remain independent after the Chickamauga 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 built a new society modeled on the white Southern United States.

Portrait of Major Ridge, by Charles Bird King, 1834

George Washington sought to 'civilize' Southeastern American Indians, through programs overseen by Indian Agent Benjamin Hawkins. 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. 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 tribes were supplied with spinning wheels 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 (1788–1801), Black Fox (1801–1811), Pathkiller (1811–1827), all former warriors of Dragging Canoe. The 'Cherokee triumvirate' of 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 Connecticut.

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 grew the plantation to 800 acres (3.2 km2) and 150 slaves, exporting cotton to England, and owning a steamboat on the Tennessee River.[30] The Cherokee allied with the U.S. against the nativist and pro-British Red Stick faction of the Upper Creeks in the Creek War during the War of 1812, and Cherokee warriors led by Major Ridge played a major role in General Andrew Jackson's victory at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend. Major Ride built a plantation and ran a ferry on the Oostanaula River, and, although he never learned English, educated his son and nephews in New England mission schools. His translator and protégé Chief John Ross, descendant of several generations of Scottish 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.

Around 1809 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 a warrior at Horseshoe Bend convinced him the Cherokee needed to develop writing. In 1821, he introduced Cherokee syllabary, 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.

Cherokee National Council building, New Echota

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 Cherokee Nation, and was renamed New Echota, after the Overhill Cherokee principal town of Chota.[31] 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. Convinced the tribes 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 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 and New Jersey Congressman. The Bible was translated into Cherokee syllabary and the first edition of the bilingual 'Cherokee Phoenix,' the first American Indian newspaper, was published in February 1828.[32]

Removal era

Tah-Chee (Dutch), A Cherokee Chief, 1837

Before the final removal to present-day Oklahoma, many Cherokees relocated to present-day Arkansas, Missouri and Texas.[33] Between 1775 and 1786 the Cherokee, along with people of other nations such as the Choctaws and Chickasaws, began voluntarily settling along the Arkansas and Red Rivers.[34]

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 Alabama and Mississippi. To convince the Cherokee to move voluntarily in 1815, the US government established a Cherokee Reservation in Arkansas.[35] 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 Settlers."

The Cherokee eventually migrated as far north as the Missouri Bootheel by 1816. They lived interspersed among the Delawares and Shawnees of that area.[36] The Cherokee in 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.[37] Increased conflicts with the Osage Nation led to the Battle of Claremore Mound and the eventual establishment of Fort Smith between Cherokee and Osage communities.[38] 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 State of Missouri and Territory of Arkansas..." to make room for the Cherokee and the Mashcoux, Muscogee Creeks.[39] 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.[40]

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 colonists. The Texas Cherokees were mostly neutral during the Texas War of Independence. In 1836, they signed a treaty with Texas President Sam Houston, an adopted member of the Cherokee tribe. His successor Mirabeau Lamar sent militia to evict them in 1839.

Trail of Tears
Chief John Ross, ca. 1840

During the first decades of the 19th century, Georgia focused on removing the Cherokee's neighbors, the Lower Creeks. After first cousins Georgia Governor George Troup and Lower Creek Chief William McIntosh signed the Treaty of Indian Springs (1825), ceding the last 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's position gained the upper hand in Washington. In 1830 the Indian Removal Act authorized the forcible relocation of American Indians east of the Mississippi to a new Indian Territory.

Andrew Jackson said the removal policy was an effort to prevent the Cherokee from facing the fate of "the Mohegan, the Narragansett, and the Delaware", which he suggested was extinction as a people.[41] 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.[42]

The 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 Clay and Daniel Webster. Samuel Worcester campaigned on the Cherokees' behalf in New England, where their cause was taken up by Ralph Waldo Emerson. 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), Supreme Court Chief Justice 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.[43] Worcester v. Georgia is considered one of the most important decisions 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 ancestral lands.

A small group known as the "Ridge Party" or the "Treaty Party" saw relocation as inevitable. Led by 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.[44]

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.[45]

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 westward to Indian Territory in 1838–1839, a migration known as the 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 Tennessee, Kentucky, Illinois, Missouri and Arkansas, the people suffered from disease, exposure and starvation, and as many as 4,000 died.[46] 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. John Ross preserved a vestige of independence by negotiating for the Cherokee to conduct their own removal under U.S. supervision. Among the many accounts of the Trail of Tears is Alex W. Bealer's Only the Names Remain: The Cherokees and The Trail of Tears.[47]

In keeping with the tribe's "blood law" that prescribed the death penalty for Cherokee who sold lands, his 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 off the attempt on his life that day and escaped to Arkansas.

In 1827, Sequoyah 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, he and John Ross signed an Act of Union that reunited the two groups of the Cherokee Nation.

Eastern Band
Cól-lee, a Band Chief, painted by George Catlin, 1834

The Oconaluftee Cherokee of the Great Smoky Mountains were the most conservative and isolated from white American civilization. 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.[48] William Holland Thomas, a white store owner and state legislator from Jackson County, North Carolina, helped over 600 Cherokee from Qualla Town 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 (ᏣᎵ),[49] or belonged to the former Valley Towns area around the Cheoah River 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 what is now known as the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, while others comprise the citizenship of some of the State recognized Tribes in surrounding states.

Civil War

Cherokee confederates reunion in New Orelans, 1903.

The American Civil War was devastating for both East and Western Cherokees. 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.[50] Cherokees in Indian Territory were divided, into Union and Confederate factions.

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, and Watie was elected Principal Chief. A master of hit-and-run cavalry tactics, Watie fought Cherokee loyal to John Ross —who issued declarations abolishing slavery and rejoining the Union —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. On June 25, 1865, two months after Robert E. Lee surrendered at Appomattox, he became the last Confederate General to stand down.

Reconstruction and late 19th century

Group of Cherokee, Yankton, and Sisseton, 1909.

The pro-Union faction of Cherokee Nation issued the Cherokee Emancipation Proclamation in 1863.[51] After the Civil War, the US government and the Cherokee Nation signed the 1866 Treaty, which among other clauses, says that all Cherokee freedman and all free African-Americans living within tribal lands "shall have all the rights of native Cherokees."[52] 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 were 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 land. The Dawes Act of 1887 provided for the breakup of commonly held tribal land. Native Americans were registered on the Dawes Rolls and allotted land from the common reserve. This also opened up later sales of land by individuals to people outside the tribe.

The 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 by the U.S. Federal Government. This was seen as necessary before the Oklahoma and Indian territories could be admitted as states. In 1905, the Five Civilized Tribes of the Indian Territory proposed the creation of the State of Sequoyah, 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 Cherokees 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 control freedmen, but the Native Americans were included on the colored side and suffered the same racial segregation and disfranchisement as former slaves. Blacks and Native Americans would not regain their rights as US citizens until the Civil Rights Movement and passage of civil rights legislation in the mid-1960s.



Cherokee attitudes towards marriage are flexible. Before the 19th century, polygamy was common.[53] Traditionally, couples, particularly women, can divorce freely.[54]

In the 19th century in Indian Territory, marriage between Cherokees and non-Cherokees was common but complicated. A European-American could legally marry a Cherokee woman by petitioning the federal court with 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 would not have a clan and traditionally not be considered Cherokee. These stem from the matrilineal and matrilocal aspects of Cherokee culture.[53]

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.[55] 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.[56]

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), which would emphasize native art and culture in traditional fine arts education, thus preserving traditional art forms and encouraging exploration of contemporary ideas. Located in Cherokee, North Carolina, OICA currently offers an associates degree program.[57] In August 2010, Oconaluftee Institute for Cultural Arts 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.[58]

The 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.[59] The Cherokee Heritage Center also houses the Cherokee National Archives. Both the CN and UKB, as well as other tribes contribute funding the CHC.

Language and writing system

Sequoyah, the inventor of the Cherokee syllabary

The Cherokee speak a Southern Iroquoian language, which is polysynthetic and is written in a syllabary invented by Sequoyah (ᏍᏏᏉᏯ).[60] 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.

Sequoyah's syllabary in the order that he originally arranged the characters.

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 settled in 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 translation:

Tsalagi: Nigada aniyvwi nigeguda'lvna ale unihloyi unadehna duyukdv gesv'i. Gejinela unadanvtehdi ale unohlisdi ale sagwu gesv junilvwisdanedi anahldinvdlv adanvdo gvhdi.[61]
English: 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)[61]

Treaties and government


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


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[62]

After being ravaged by smallpox, and pressed by increasingly violent land-hungry settlers, the 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 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.[63] The constitution stated that "No person who is of negro or mulatto [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."[64] This definition to limit rights of multiracial descendants, may have been more widely held among the elite than the general population.[65]

Modern Cherokee tribes

Cherokee Nation

Flag of the Cherokee Nation
Cherokee Nation Historic Courthouse in Tahlequah, Oklahoma.
The Cherokee Female Seminary was built in 1889 by the Oklahoma Cherokees.

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,[66] 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.[67]

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 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 on Labor Day weekend each year, and 80,000 to 90,000 Cherokee Citizens travel to Tahlequah, Oklahoma, for the festivities. It also publishes the Cherokee Phoenix, 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 in Park City, Utah.

Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians

Flag of the Eastern Band Cherokee

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-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”.

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, 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

The United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians formed their government under the 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 Arkansas and Indian Territory before the Trail of Tears.[68] 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.[69]

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.[citation needed]

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.[citation needed]

Contemporary settlement

Dorothea Lange's famous photograph, Migrant Mother, that epitomized the Great Depression, features Florence Owens Thompson (Cherokee-Choctaw) and her three children

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 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 CaliforniaCovelo, Hayfork and San Miguel, one town in Oregon and one town in Arizona).[citation needed] 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 lived in farming communities, by military bases and other Indian reservations.[70]

See also the Albuquerque Cherokee Nation Township (Cherokee Nation) about the Cherokee community of Albuquerque, NM.

Membership controversies

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 and has no minimum blood quantum requirement.[71] 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.[72]

In 2000 the U.S. census reported 875,276 people self-identified as Cherokee Indian;[73] 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.[74] Cherokee Nation spokesman Mike Miller has suggested that some groups, which he calls Cherokee Heritage Groups, are encouraged.[75] 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.[76]

One exception to this may be the Texas Cherokees. 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 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. 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 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.[77]

Cherokee Freedmen

The Cherokee freedmen, descendants of African American 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, 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 Land Rolls, the ruling "did not limit membership to people possessing Cherokee blood".[78] 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.[79] 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.[80] 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.[81]

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 (1830–1880), Cherokee senator and diplomat, Confederate colonel.
  • Attakullakulla (ca. 1708-ca. 1777), diplomat to Britain, headman of Chota, chief
  • Bob Benge (ca. 1762–1794), warrior of the Lower Cherokee during the Chickamauga Wars
  • Elias Boudinot (Galagina) (1802–1839), statesman, orator, and editor, founded first Cherokee newspaper, Cherokee Phoenix
  • Ned Christie (1852–1892), statesman, Cherokee Nation senator, infamous outlaw[82]
  • Rear Admiral Joseph J. Clark (1893–1971), United States Navy, highest ranking Native American in the US military.
  • Doublehead, Taltsuska (d. 1807), a war leader during the Chicamauga Wars, led the Lower Cherokee, signed land deals with US
  • Dragging Canoe, Tsiyugunsini (1738–1792), general the militant Cherokee during the Chickamauga Wars, principal chief of the Chicamauga 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 1813–1827
  • 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-Cherokee War,
  • Ostenaco, Ustanakwa (ca. 1703–1780), war chief, diplomat to Britain, founded the town of Ultiwa
  • Major Ridge 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, Skatlelohski (1792–1839), son of Major Ridge, statesman, New Echota Treaty signer
  • John Rollin Ridge, 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, entertainer, roper, journalist, and author[83]
  • 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 Cherokee syllabary[84]
  • 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, 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 (ca. 1765–1809), Scottish-Cherokee, highly successful businessman and veteran of the Chickamauga Wars
  • Nancy Ward, Nanye-hi (ca. 1736–1822/4), (Beloved Woman), diplomat
  • 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

See also

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  • 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, Connecticut 1977 ISBN 0-8371-9034-7
  • Irwin, L, "Cherokee Healing: Myth, Dreams, and Medicine." American Indian Quarterly. Vol. 16, 2, 1992, p. 237.
  • McLoughlin, William G. Cherokee Renascence in the New Republic. (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1992).
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  • 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. ISBN 978-0803287600.
  • Pierpoint, Mary. "Unrecognized Cherokee claims cause problems for nation." Indian Country Today. August 16, 2000 (Accessed May 16, 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.
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  • Doublass, Robert Sydney. "History of Southeast Missouri", 1992, pp. 32–45
  • Rollings, Willard H. "The Osage: An Ethnohistorical Study of Hegemony on the Prairie-Plains." (University of Missouri Press, 1992)

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  • Cherokee, AL — U.S. town in Alabama Population (2000): 1237 Housing Units (2000): 557 Land area (2000): 2.239008 sq. miles (5.799003 sq. km) Water area (2000): 0.000000 sq. miles (0.000000 sq. km) Total area (2000): 2.239008 sq. miles (5.799003 sq. km) FIPS… …   StarDict's U.S. Gazetteer Places

  • Cherokee, IA — U.S. city in Iowa Population (2000): 5369 Housing Units (2000): 2556 Land area (2000): 6.408127 sq. miles (16.596973 sq. km) Water area (2000): 0.024271 sq. miles (0.062862 sq. km) Total area (2000): 6.432398 sq. miles (16.659835 sq. km) FIPS… …   StarDict's U.S. Gazetteer Places

  • Cherokee, KS — U.S. city in Kansas Population (2000): 722 Housing Units (2000): 336 Land area (2000): 0.686187 sq. miles (1.777217 sq. km) Water area (2000): 0.000000 sq. miles (0.000000 sq. km) Total area (2000): 0.686187 sq. miles (1.777217 sq. km) FIPS code …   StarDict's U.S. Gazetteer Places

  • Cherokee, OK — U.S. city in Oklahoma Population (2000): 1630 Housing Units (2000): 853 Land area (2000): 1.463364 sq. miles (3.790095 sq. km) Water area (2000): 0.000000 sq. miles (0.000000 sq. km) Total area (2000): 1.463364 sq. miles (3.790095 sq. km) FIPS… …   StarDict's U.S. Gazetteer Places

  • Cherokee — [cher′ə kē΄] n. [< extinct dial. form of Cherokee tsalaki, a self designation ] 1. pl. Cherokees or Cherokee a member of a North American Indian people formerly inhabiting a large area of the S Appalachian Mountains, now living in Oklahoma and …   English World dictionary

  • Cherokee — (spr. Cherokee), 1) Grafschaft im Staate Nord Carolina (Vereinigte Staaten von Nordamerika), an die Staaten Tennessee u. Georgia grenzend, 431/2QM.; Gebirge: Blue Ridge (Blaues Gebirge) u. Unaka (Smoky) Mountain; Flüsse: Hiawassee u. Valley… …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • Cherokee — 1670s, from Cherokee Tsaragi …   Etymology dictionary

  • Cherokee [1] — Cherokee (spr. tscherrokī), Indianerstamm, s. Tscherokesen …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

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