The Cherokee are perhaps one of the most interesting of Native American Groups. Their life and culture are closely intertwined with early American settlers and the history of our own nation 's struggle for freedom. In the interest of promoting tolerance and peace, and with regard to the United States government 's handling of Native affairs, their story is one that is painful, stoic, and must not be forgotten.
The Cherokee people were a large and powerful tribe. The Cherokees ' Macro-Siouan- Iroquoian language and their migration legends demonstrate that the tribe originated to the north of their traditional Southeastern homelands. Linguists believe that the Cherokee migrated from the Great Lakes area to the Southeast over three thousand years ago. The Cherokee language is a branch of the Iroquoian language family, related to Cayuga, Seneca, Onondega, Wyandot-Huron, Tuscarora, Oneida and Mohawk. Original locations of the Cherokee were the southern Appalachian Mountains, including western North and South Carolina, northern Georgia and Alabama, southwest Virginia, and the Cumberland Basin of Tennessee, Kentucky, and northern Alabama. The Cherokee sometimes refer to themselves as Ani-Kituhwagi, "the people of Kituhwa". Kituhwa was the name of an ancient city, located near present Bryson City, NC, which was the center of the Cherokee Nation.
Long before Columbus discovered the "New World" or Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto arrived, the Cherokee territory stretched from the Ohio River to the north, and southward into Georgia and Alabama. Their homelands extended over 135,000 square miles. Cherokee villages had populations of about 350 to 600 persons. Before contact with Europeans, families built round, earth-covered homes for the
Bibliography: Thomas E. Mails, The Cherokee People: The Story of the Cherokees from Earliest Origins to Contemporary Times Merwyn S. Garbarino, Native American Heritage The Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indians http://www.charweb.org/neighbors/na/cherokee.htm James Mooney, History, Myths, and Sacred Formulas of the Cherokees Morris L. Wardell, A Political History of the Cherokee Nation 1838-1907 Collier, Peter. When Shall They Rest? The Cherokees ' Long Struggle with America