Cherokee History and Culture

The Ancient History of the Cherokee Indians
Artifacts prove that the history and culture of Cherokee Indians begins over 10,000 years ago at the end of the last ice age when mastodon roamed the mountains. When European settlers arrived in the 1500’s the Cherokee people were living together in villages throughout the mountains growing and harvesting corn, beans, squash, sunflowers, and a wide variety of medicinal herbs and plants. The Cherokee also hunted for deer, turkeys, and other small game, as well as fished the plentiful rivers and streams.

Language and Government – Big Changes for the Cherokee Indians History and Culture
In the 1800’s the Cherokee tribe went through major changes. The first was the development and adoption of a written constitution. The second was the invention of a written Cherokee language. The Cherokee language was created in 1821 and consists of 86 characters. The third and most devastating change happened in 1838 when the majority of the Cherokee people were removed from Western North Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, and Alabama and forcibly relocated to Oklahoma by the federal government of the United States. This removal is what began the Trail of Tears, one of the most painful parts of Cherokee history and culture.

Modern Day Cherokee History and Culture
In Cherokee NC today much has changed, but many things have stayed the same, especially when it comes to fishing the rivers, living as a tight community, supporting the good of the tribe, educating the young and loving the land. The native tribal members living in Cherokee today are descendants of the Cherokees who were able to hold on to the land they held, hide in the mountains, or to eventually return to WNC. The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians is a sovereign nation with over 14,000 enrolled members.