The Cherokee Nation,
largest of the Five Civilized Tribes of the Southeast, is a people of Iroquoian
lineage. The Cherokee, who called themselves "Ani'-Yun' wiya" or "Principal People",
migrated to the Southeast from the Great Lakes Region. They commanded more than
40,000 square miles in the southern Appalachians by 1650 with a population estimated
Similar to other Native Americans of the Southeast, their nation was a confederacy of towns, each subordinate to supreme chiefs. When encountered by Europeans, they were an agrarian people who lived in log homes (not tee pees) and observed sacred religious practices.
During the American Revolution the Cherokees, as well as the Creek and Choctaw, supported the British and made several attacks on forts and settlements in the frontier.
After 1800 the Cherokees profoundly assimilated White culture. They adopted a government patterned after the United States, wore European-style dress, and followed the white man's farming and home-building methods. Ironically, the Cherokees fought with Andrew Jackson in the Creek War (1813-14).
Cherokee culture continued to flourish with the invention
of the Cherokee syllabary by Sequoyah in 1821. This system, in which each
character represents a syllable, produced rapid literacy. It made possible
their written constitution, the spread of Christianity, and the printing
of the only Native American newspaper, The
Cherokee Phoenix, begun in 1828. A seat of government was built at New
However, that same year gold was
discovered in north Georgia's Cherokee territory. Within a decade the Principal
People's native home, their "Enchanted Land", would be theirs no more.
Trail of Tears
Cherokee in North Georgia
Want more information? Cherokee history links
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