Cherokee Tribe

Variant name:

Chiroikees; Cherockees

Description:

The Cherokees are a North American Indian tribe, now with a population of about 350,000. They were one of the largest politically organized tribes at the time of European colonization. Their name derives from a Creek word meaning "people of different speech," which is more properly spelled Tsalagi; their original tribal name is Aniyunwiya. Their language, Tsalagi Gawonihisdi, is related to Haudenosaunee. Controlling a large territory in the Appalachian Mountains in parts of present day Georgia, eastern Tennessee, and the western Carolinas, the Cherokees hunted and raised corn, beans, and squash, and had large towns organized around council houses with sacred fires. The Spanish, French and English all attempted to colonize parts of the Southeast; by the 18th century, the Cherokees allied with the British against the French, who were allied with some of their traditional Haudenosaunee enemies. But English settlement destroyed many Cherokee towns and damaged tribal economies. The Cherokees and other neighboring tribes lost territory after the Revolutionary War because of their support of the British, and after 1800, the Cherokees began adopting settler culture, forming a government based on the US model, farming, and developing a written language that promoted almost full literacy among the Tribe and produced the first Indian newspaper, the Cherokee Phoenix in 1828. But when gold was discovered on Cherokee land, Georgia disregarded a US Supreme Court ruling in favor of Cherokee sovereignty, and moved the Cherokees from their traditional homes in a forced march in Fall and Winter of 1838-39 known as the Trail of Tears. The main body of Cherokees were resettled in northeastern Oklahoma, where they are today. At the time of removal, some escaped to the hills and remained in western North Carolina. There are now three federally recognized Cherokee Tribes. In 1758, Occom was being considered for a mission to the Cherokees in Virginia, which never happened.

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Sources:

"Our History." Cherokee Nation. www.cherokee.org/AboutTheNation/History/Facts/OurHistory.aspx; "Cherokee." Encyclopedia Britannica. www.search.eb.com/EBchecked/topic/109474/Cherokee.