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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

Update from N.C. Government & Heritage Library staff: 

The Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indians is self-governed and autonomous.  Governance is by tribal council.  The Principal Chief as of 2018 was Richard Sneed.  His name is the latest in the list of Cherokee leaders, his predecessors being Yonaguska, William Holland Thomas, Salonitah (or Flying Squirrel), Lloyd R. Welch, Nimrod Jarrett Smith, Stillwell Saunooke, Andy Standing Deer, Jesse Reed, Bird Saloloneeta (or Young Squirrel), John Goins Welch, Joseph A. Saunooke, David Blythe, Sampson Owl, John A. Tahquette, Jarret Blythe, Henry Bradley, Osley Bird Saunooke, Walter Jackson, Noah Powell, John A. Crowe, Robert S. Youngdeer, Jonathan L. Taylor, Gerard Parker, Joyce Dugan, Leon Jones, Michell Hicks, and Patrick Lambert.

--Research Branch, North Carolina Office of Archives and History, 2018.

Resources:

Eastern Band of Cherokee Website: https://ebci.com/

Comments

Comment: 

I am searching for my great great grandmother whom lived in Kentucky (Broadhead, Rockcastle Co., Ky).. She was Cherokee & birthed a son (my great grandfather), then he was adopted by white people upon her death (Suicide). We do not know her name. After some research (Dawes Roll) we can not be sure if my great grandfather ever registered. We know that his surname was Ross & he is buried in Louisville, KY. Please advise on research books, names, articles, etc. for leads on my Cherokee ancestors in KY. I‘m believed to have 1/16 Cherokee blood & want to learn more of our history/ancestry. Thank you very much for your time & help.

Comment: 

Hello, 

I'm forwarding your comment to our reference librarians who can assist you.

Erin Bradford, Government and Heritage Library 

Comment: 

My great grsndfather was from.New Mexico he spoke 5 Native dialects he was in WW1 . My family has tried to find out information about him but his recods are sealed. We have so.many questions..We are born in California. My parents were Born in Galup and Sante Fe. We dont know what type of Natve tribe we are im thinking Cherokee? How can we get information on my great grandfather?
.

Comment: 

Hello, 

I'm forwarding your comment to our reference librarians who can assist you.

Erin Bradford, Government and Heritage Library 

Comment: 

Hi again I did find some hicks on the cherokee which was my granny's name but no more

Comment: 

My mother told me many times that one of the McCracken family was married to a Cherokee chiefs daughter. My mother has dark black hair. I would really like to know.

Comment: 

i would like to know what information there is on Aquillia McCracken who married Nancy Lane as their son John McCracken was in the all Indian company from Ok during WW1 ??

Comment: 

Hello! I think you need to start your search in OK then. Perhaps looking at tribal rolls like the Dawes rolls, etc, might be a good place to start. 

Erin Bradford, Government and Heritage Library

Comment: 

I have traced my ancestors back to Rutherford County, North Carolina. My GG Grandmother was Elizabeth (Horn) Roach who married Perry Roach in the presence of father Daniel Horn, Littleberry Roach and John Roach March 22, 1823. Does anyone know of any connection with the Eastern Band or Oklahoma Cherokee Nation? I have found several Roach and Horn names on the Dawes and Baker rolls. Best wishes and kindest regards.

Comment: 

Hello, I am interested in a Josephine Dockery (maiden name McMillian). She applied for inclusion to the Cherokee nation in the Dawes roll, but her application was rejected. How do I find the file or "jacket" for her application. I wanted to know which person(s) she identified as her parent(s). I think that the card number for her is #317.

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