The Cherokee Indians originally inhabited the Southeast region of the United States. Like many Indians, the Cherokee were threatened by the settlers and forced to move from their homeland during the 1800s. The Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, the United Keetoowah Band in Oklahoma, and the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians in North Carolina are the only three Cherokee tribes recognized by the federal government. These tribes have their own governments and leadership, but are still U.S. Citizens and must abide by American law.

Location

Mountains

The Cherokee originally lived at the southern base of the Appalachian mountains, including Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Alabama, as well as parts of Tennessee and Kentucky. Most of the current population of federally recognized Cherokee are based in Oklahoma. Other unrecognized Indians are dispersed throughout parts of Arkansas, Georgia and Alabama.

Cherokee Trail of Tears

Desert Dirt Road

The Cherokee Trail of Tears was the forced displacement of Indians during the 1800s by the U.S. government. The government established reservations in Oklahoma on which the Indians could live, but many tribes did not want to go. When the Indians pled their case at the Supreme Court, they were guaranteed their freedom to stay. However, President Andrew Jackson and his army forced the Indians to leave. Because the journey was arduous and unplanned, it cost many Indians their lives.

Language

Cherokee Alphabet

Cherokee Indians speak the Cherokee language, also called Tsalagi. It originated from the Iroquo Indians. The Cherokee wrote using syllabary, which uses a written character to represent a syllable. This written language was invented by a Cherokee scholar named Sequoyah. Current Indians speak English and write using the English alphabet.

Culture

American wigwam

Cherokee Indian culture was similar to that of the Iroquois. Men were responsible for hunting, fighting and maintaining tribe leadership, whereas the woman primarily spent their time farming and taking care of the family. Storytelling, art and music were important parts of the Cherokee lives. Fairy tales and legends, in particular, were used to explain the origin of nature.

Food

Corn

Cherokee Indian women farmed and harvested and their own food. Their popular crops included corn, beans, squash and sunflowers. The women also collected fruits, berries and nuts from the wild, while the men hunted turkeys and deer or fished in the streams. The Indians also baked bread and made various vegetable and meat stews that were heated on stone fireplaces.