Cherokee Nation

Who were the Cherokee Indians?

The Cherokee Nation was one of the most important Native American tribes. At the time, five specific tribes among the Native American tribes were called the ‘Five Civilised Tribes’.

The Cherokee Nation was one of them. Their name ‘Cherokee’ means ‘speakers of another language’. The Cherokee were a large tribe and had a large area of southeastern America under their control.

Where did the Cherokee Native American tribes live?

In the early 17th century, when a lot of Europeans hadn’t yet arrived in the Americas, the Cherokee Nation lived in the southeastern America.

Their homeland comprised of the modern-day states of Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, North Carolina and South Carolina. In total, the Cherokee had nearly 40,000 square miles under their control and were one of the most respected Native American tribes.

Cherokee Nation – Five Civilised Tribes

The Cherokee Nation were called one of the Five Civilised Tribes among the Native American tribes. This was because they were more advanced than other Native American tribes.

In the early 19th century, the Cherokee Nation had a population which knew how to read and write in its own language. They also had a constitution which was inspired by the American constitution and even had a newspaper of their own.

Fighting with and against Britain

In 1754, Britain and France began a war in North America. Both sides wanted to control more land. The Cherokee Nation sided with the French and fought against the British.

But the French lost and so, a portion of the Cherokee land went under British control. Later, when the 13 British colonies started the American Revolution in 1775, the Cherokee Nation sided with the British.

This time British lost and the United States of America was born. Since the Cherokee had fought against USA, they had to give up more of their land as part of the peace agreement.

America expands into Cherokee Land

In the 19th century, America was expanding from the original 13 colonies along the eastern coast towards the west. During this expansion, American settlers reached out to new places in the west, bought land, farmed, mined and established new towns and settlements.

This happened with the Cherokee land in the 1820s. Gold was discovered in southeast America where they Cherokee lived. A large number of American settlers, miners and explorers started arriving as a result.

American government signed a treaty with a small number of Cherokee leaders which sold the Cherokee land to America. Most of the Cherokee people opposed this treaty and took their court to United States Supreme Court where they won in 1832. But that didn’t stop the American government from taking their land.

Trail of Tears

Despite the Supreme Court ruling, American President Andrew Jackson ordered the Cherokee to leave their land. American government wanted them to travel thousands of miles and settle in present-day Oklahoma which was a desolate place at the time.

Thousands of Cherokee people were forced to march along this distance for more than a year. They were accompanied by the American soldiers who forced them out of their land and to Oklahoma. This march became known as the ‘Trail of Tears’ and nearly 4000 Cherokee people died along the way.