About 4,000 years ago, the Cherokee people left the southwest region of what would become the United States, in search of a home. They settled for a while around the Great Lakes region, but they were not welcomed. The Iroquois were not happy to see them. The Iroquois forcibly pushed the Cherokee from their land. The Cherokee moved on.
They wandered finally into North Carolina, where they discovered a land full of forests, mountains, rivers, streams, and fertile valleys. Wildlife was plentiful. They settled down happily. Life continued for thousands of years.
Expansion: As their own village populations grew, and as they conquered other tribes in the area, the Cherokee Nation grew. At one time, it covered 8 states including all or portions of the present day states of Georgia, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Kentucky, Alabama, Virginia and West Virginia.
First White Men: It was not until the 1600's that the Cherokee met the first white man in their region. White traders found it easy to trade with the Cherokee. As long as you wished them no harm, the Cherokee were peaceful, even helpful. The Cherokee traded deerskins for cloth, hammers, tools, and guns.
Trail of Tears: There were many wars and problems in the intervening years. But it was not until 1830 that, once again, the Cherokee were forcibly pushed from their land, this time by the United States government. The Cherokee were given a new place to live - a reservation located in the southwest, an area they had left 4000 years earlier. The Cherokee were forced to walk all they way to Oklahoma. Many people died on the walk, which is why this move is called "The Trail of Tears".
Written Language: About 200 years ago, the Cherokee developed a written language of their own. They wrote everything down, all their legends and stories and customs, so they could more easily teach their children the old ways.
Today: Today, the Cherokee live in the modern world. There are over 260,000 Cherokees in the United States. Most live in Oklahoma. Some still live in the southeastern region of the United States. They still follow some of their old customs and they still teach their children the old ways. The children do not always listen, as they did once, but most are as fascinated by their heritage as we are.
Come meet the Southeast Cherokee in olden times.