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This article is from the Encyclopedia of North Carolina edited by William S. Powell. Copyright © 2006 by the University of North Carolina Press. Used by permission of the publisher. For personal use and not for further distribution. Please submit permission requests for other use directly to the publisher.

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Cherokee Indians

by William L. Anderson and Ruth Y. Wetmore, 2006
Additional research provided by John L. Bell.

Part i: Overview; Part ii: Cherokee origins and first European contact; Part iii: Disease, destruction, and the loss of Cherokee land; Part iv: Revolutionary War, Cherokee defeat and additional land cessions; Part v: Trail of Tears and the creation of the Eastern Band of Cherokees; Part vi: Federal recognition and the fight for Cherokee rights; Part vii: Modern-day Cherokee life and culture; Part viii: References and additional resources

Part i: An overview

Goingback Chiltoskey carving animal figures from wood, 1967. North Carolina Collection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Library.Cherokee Indians once occupied an area encompassing approximately 140,000 square miles that became parts of North Carolina, Tennessee, South Carolina, Georgia, and Alabama. The Cherokee thrived in North Carolina well into the late eighteenth century, but as Euro-American settlers steadily moved into and near Cherokee lands, sharp conflicts arose between Cherokees and whites and between Cherokees themselves, as leaders with competing claims to speak for the tribe secured treaties and formed other agreements with white settlers that were not acknowledged by all Cherokee people. In 1838-39, the U.S. government forcibly removed the Cherokee from their lands in North Carolina, leading them on the infamous Trail of Tears to the Indian Territory (present-day Oklahoma). A small number of Cherokee people successfully resisted removal, however, by claiming North Carolina citizenship and by maintaining the right to remain on lands they owned. These people and their descendants were recognized in 1868 by the federal government as the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. In the early 2000s these Cherokee, living on the Qualla Boundary in the western part of the state, were the only Indian tribe in North Carolina fully recognized by the federal government. The tribe has more than 13,000 enrolled members.

 

 

Keep reading > Part ii: Cherokee origins and first European contact keep reading

Comments

Comment: 

Dear Eugene,

Thank you for visiting NCpedia and taking time to share your question.

Please visit the State Library’s website for our Genealogy Research page -- http://statelibrary.ncdcr.gov/ghl/resources/genealogy.html.  You will find some helpful information about conducting family history research in general.

If you are near Raleigh, we invite you to visit the State Library to help conduct family history research.  Unfortunately, we do not have any significant resources on American Indians in Kentucky.  Here are a few locations that may be able to help you:

  1. First, you may wish to contact or visit Kentucky’s Department for Libraries and Archives: http://kdla.ky.gov/Pages/default.aspx.  They may be able to provide some research assistance for American Indians in Kentucky.
  2. The Kentucky Native American Heritage Commission may be able to help as well with resources and search information.  Here is their website:  http://heritage.ky.gov/knahc/
  3. The U.S. Department of Interior has a guide for tracing American Indian ancestry: https://www.bia.gov/cs/groups/public/documents/text/idc002656.pdf
  4. Finally, you may also wish to contact the tribe related to the heritage of the ancestor you are researching.  Many tribes have websites that include helpful information. 

I hope this information helps!  Good luck in your research and very best wishes,

Kelly Agan, Government & Heritage Library

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