The Cherokee Indians

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The Cherokee Indians

The American Indian History in the Eastern part of the country is always associated with the Cherokee Indian nation. The Cherokee's were by far the largest and most advanced of the tribes when Europeans first arrived and came in contact with Native Americans. There are too many tribes to go over background on every one of them, so I'm going to focus on the Cherokee's since many of their ways and customs are so similar to all the other tribes in the East.

When Europeans first arrived in North America, the Cherokees occupied a large expanse of territory in the Southeast. Their homeland included mountains and valleys in the southern part of the Appalachian Mountain chain. Their territory stretched from North Carolina to Virginia to Tennessee, South Carolina and Alabama. They spoke a dialect of Iroquoian language and their ancestral relatives (the Iroquois) occupied much of the Northeast cultural area.

The name Cherokee was probably given to them by outsiders since the word Cherokee means, "people of different speech." The name the Cherokee's had for themselves was Ani-yun-wiya which means, "real people."

Villages were placed along rivers and streams so they could take advantage of the rich black soil for farming. Corn was their main source of food, along with wild plants and roots that were common to their homeland. They used spears, traps, and fishing lines with hooks to catch many different kinds of fish. They also used an interesting method of poisoning an area of water to kill the fish and gather them up as they floated to the surface.

The Cherokees were also skilled hunters. They hunted large animals, such as deer and bear, with bows and arrows. They covered themselves in entire deerskins, antlers and all, and used deer calls to lure the animals to them. They also hunted small game with blowguns that were accurate from up to 60 feet away.

The products of their hunts were not only used for food, but for clothing as...
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