The meaning of Cherokee is unknown, but possibly from Creek tciloki, "people of a different speech." The middle and upper dialects substitute l for r. Also called:
Alligewi or Alleghanys, a people appearing in Delaware tradition
who were perhaps identical with this tribe.
The Cherokee language is the most aberrant form of speech of the Iroquoian linguistic family.
From the earliest times of which we have any certain knowledge, the Cherokee have occupied the highest districts at the southern end of the Appalachian chain, mainly in the States of Tennessee and North Carolina, but including also parts of South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, and Virginia.
There were anciently three Cherokee dialects which probably corresponded in some measure to the three groups of towns into which early traders and explorers divided the tribe. These groups, with the towns belonging to each according to the Purcell map, but following as far as possible the Handbook (Hodge, 1907,1910) orthography, are as follows:
Estatoee, 2 towns:
Keowee, 2 towns:
Kulsetsiyi, 3 towns:
(1) on Keowee River, near Fall Creek, Oconee County, SC;
Oconee, on Seneca Creek near Walhalla, Oconee County, SC.
Qualatchee, 2 towns:
(1) on Keowee River, SC;
Tomassee, 2 towns:
(1) on Tomassee Creek of Keowee River, Oconee County, SC;
Toxaway, on Toxaway Creek, a branch of Keowee River, SC.
Tugaloo, on Tugaloo River at the junction of Toccoa Creek, Habersham County, GA.
Ustanali, several towns so called:
(2) probably on the waters of Tuckasegee River in western
Cowee, about the mouth of Cowee Creek of Little Tennessee River, about 10 miles below Franklin, NC.
Coweeshee, probably between the preceding and Yunsawi.
Ellijay, 4 towns:
(1) on the headwaters of Keowee River, SC;
Itseyi, 3 towns:
(1) on Brasstown Creek of Tugaloo River, Oconee County, SC;
Jore, on Iola Creek, an upper branch of Little Tennessee River, NC.
Kituhwa, on Tuckasegee River and extending from above the junction of the Oconaluftee near to the present Bryson City, Swain County, NC.
Nucassee, at the present Franklin, NC.
Stikayi, 3 towns:
(1) on Sticoa Creek, near Clayton, Rabun County, GA.;
Tawsee, on Tugaloo River, Habersham County, GA.
Tekanitli, in upper Georgia.
Tessuntee, on Cowee River, south of Franklin, NC.
Tikaleyasuni, on Burningtown Creek, an upper branch of Little Tennessee River, western North Carolina.
Watauga, 2 towns:
(1) on Watauga Creek, a branch of Little Tennessee River,
a few miles below Franklin, NC;
Yunsawi, on West Buffalo Creek of Cheowa River, Graham County, NC.
Over-the-Hills and Valley Settlements, or Overhill Settlements:
Chatuga, 3 towns:
(1) on Chattooga River, on the boundary between South Carolina
Chilhowee, on Tellico River in Monroe County, TN, near the North Carolina border.
Cotocanahut, between Natuhli and Niowe.
Echota, 5 towns:
(1) Great Echota, on the south side of Little Tennessee River,
a short distance below Citico Creek, Monroe County, TN;
Hiwassee, 2 towns:
(1) Great Hiwassee on the north bank of Hiwassee River at
the present Savannah Ford, above Columbus, Polk County, TN;
Natuhli, on Nottely River, a branch of Hiwassee River at or near the site of the present Ranger, Cherokee County, NC.
Nayuhi, seems to have been the name of four towns:
(1) probably of the Lower Settlements, on the east bank of Tugaloo River, SC;
(2) on the upper waters of Tennessee River, apparently in
North Carolina, and,
Sitiku, on Little Tennessee River at the entrance of Citico Creek, Monroe County, TN.
Tahlasi, on Little Tennessee River about Talassee Ford in Blount County, TN.
Tallulah, 2 towns:
(1) on the upper Tallulah River, Rabun County, GA.;
Tamahli, 2 towns:
(1) on Valley River a few miles above Murphy, about the present
Tomatola, Cherokee, County, NC;
Tellico, 4 towns:
(1) Great Tellico, at Tellico Plains on Tellico River, Monroe
Tennessee, 2 towns:
(1) on Little Tennessee River a short distance above its junction
with the main stream in east Tennessee;
Toquo, on Little Tennessee River about the mouth of Toco Creek, Monroe County, TN.
Tsiyahi, 3 towns:
(1) on a branch of Keowee River, near the present Cheochee,
Oconee County, SC;
Ustanali; according to Purcell's map, there was a town of this name different from those already given, on the upper waters of Cheowa River, Graham County, NC.
Besides the above, the following settlements are given by Mooney and other writers:
Amahyaski, location unknown.
Amkalali, location unknown.
Amohi, location unknown.
Anisgayayi, a traditional town on Valley River, Cherokee County, NC.
Anuyi, location unknown.
Aquohee, perhaps at the site of Fort Scott, on Nantahala River, Macon County, NC.
Atsiniyi, location unknown.
Aumuchee, location unknown.
Big Island, on Big Island, in Little Tennessee River a short distance below the mouth of Tellico River.
Briertown, on Nantahala River about the mouth of Briertown Creek, Macon County, NC.
Broomtown, location unknown.
Brown's Village, location unknown.
Buffalo Fish, location unknown.
Canuga, 2 towns:
(1) apparently on Keowee River, SC;
Catatoga, on Cartoogaja Creek of Little Tennessee River above Franklin, NC.
Chagee, near the mouth of Chatooga Creek of Tugaloo River at or near Fort Madison, southwest Oconee County, SC.
Cheesoheha, on a branch of Savannah River in upper South Carolina.
Chewase, on a branch of Tennessee River in East Tennessee.
Chicherohe, on War Woman Creek in the northwestern part of Rabun County, GA.
Chickamauga, a temporary settlement on Chickamauga Creek near Chattanooga.
Conisca, on a branch of Tennessee River.
Conontoroy, an "out town."
Conoross, on Conoross Creek which enters Keowee or Seneca River from the west in Anderson County, SC.
Coyatee, on Little Tennessee River about 10 miles below the Tellico, about the presentCoytee, Loudon County, TN.
Crayfish Town, in upper Georgia.
Creek Path, with Creeks and Shawnee at Gunter's Landing, AL.
Crowmocker, on Battle Creek which falls into Tennessee River below Chattanooga, TN.
Crow Town, on the left bank of Tennessee River near the mouth of Raccoon Creek, Cherokee County, AL.
Cuclon, an unidentified town.
Cusawatee, on lower Coosawatee River in Gordon County, GA.
Dulastunyi, on Nottely River, Cherokee County, NC, near the Georgia line.
Dustayalunyi, about the mouth of Shooting Creek, an affluent of Hiwassee River, near Hayesville, Clay County, NC.
Ecochee, on a head stream of Savannah River in northwest South Carolina or northeast Georgia.
Elakulsi, in northern Georgia.
Etowah, 2 towns:
(1) on Etowah River about the present Hightower, Forsyth County,
Euforsee, location unknown.
Fightingtown, on Fightingtown Creek, near Morgantown, Fannin County, GA.
Frogtown, on a creek of the same name, north of Dahlonega, Lumpkin County, GA.
Guhlaniyi, occupied by Cherokee and Natchez, at the junction of Brasstown Creek with Hiwassee River a short distance above Murphy, NC.
Gusti, traditional, on Tennessee River near Kingston, Roane County, TN.
Halfway Town, about halfway between Sitiku and Chilhowee on Little Tennessee River about the boundary of Monroe and Loudon Counties, TN.
Hemptown, on Hemptown Creek near Morgantown, Fannin County, GA.
Hickory Log, on Etowah River a short distance above Canton, Cherokee County, GA.
High Tower Forks, probably one of the places called Etowah.
Ikatikunahita, on Long Swamp Creek about the boundary of Forsyth and Cherokee Counties, GA.
Ivy Log, on Ivy Log Creek, Union County, GA.
Johnstown, on the upper waters of Chattahoochee River and probably in the northern part of Hall County, GA.
Kalanunyi, a district or town laid off on the Eastern Cherokee Reserve in Swain and Jackson Counties, NC.
Kanastunyi, on the headwaters of French Broad River near Brevard in Transylvania County, NC, also possibly a second on Hiwassee River.
Kansaki, 4 towns:
(1) on Tuckasegee River a short distance above the present
Webster in Jackson County, NC;
Kanutaluhi, in northern Georgia.
Kawanunyi, about the present Ducktown, Polk County, TN.
Kuhlahi, in upper Georgia.
Kulahiyi, in northeastern Georgia near Currahee Mountain.
Leatherwood, at or near Leatherwood in the northern part of Franklin County, GA.
Long Island, at the Long Island in Tennessee River on the Tennessee-Georgia line.
Lookout Mountain Town, at or near the present Trenton, Dade County, GA.
Naguchee, about the junction of Soquee and Sautee Rivers in Nacoochee Valley at the head of Chattahoochee River, Habersham County, GA.
Nanatlugunyi, traditional, on the site of Jonesboro, Washington County, TN.
Nantahala (see Briertown).
Nickajack, on the south bank of Tennessee River in Marion County, TN.
Nununyi, on Oconaluftee River near Cherokee, Swain County, NC.
Ocoee, on Ocoee River near its junction with the Hiwassee, about Benton, Polk County, TN.
Oconaluftee, probably at the present Birdtown, on the Eastern Cherokee Reservation.
Ooltewah, about the present Ooltewah, on Ooltewah Creek, James County, TN.
Oothcaloga, on Oothcaloga (Ougillogy) Creek of Oostanaula River near Calhoun, Gordon County, GA.
Paint Town, on lower Soco Creek, within the reservation in Jackson and Swain Counties, NC.
Pine Log, on Pine Log Creek in Bartow County, GA.
Quacoshatchee, in northwest Pickens County, SC.
Qualla, agency of the Eastern Cherokee on a branch of Soco River, Jackson County, NC.
Quanusee, location unknown.
Rabbit Trap, in upper Georgia.
Red Bank, on Etowah River, at or near Canton, Cherokee County, GA.
Red Clay, on Oconaluftee River in Swain County, NC, Eastern Cherokee Reservation.
Running Water, on the southeast bank of Tennessee River below Chattanooga, near the northwestern Georgia line and 4 miles above Nickajack. Sanderstown, in northeastern Alabama.
Selikwayi, on Sallacoa Creek probably at or near the present Sallacoa, Cherokee County, GA.
Seneca, on Keowee River about the mouth of Conneross Creek in Oconee County, SC.
Setsi, traditional, on the south side of Valley River, about three miles below Valleytown, Cherokee County, NC.
Skeinah, on Toccoa River, Fannin County, GA.
Soquee, on Soquee River, near Clarksville, Habersham County, GA.
Spikebuck Town, on Hiwassee River at or near Hayesville, Clay County, N. C. Spring Place, a mission station in Murray County, GA.
Standing Peach Tree, on Chattahoochee River, at the mouth of Peachtree Creek, northwest of Atlanta, GA.
Sutali, on Etowah River, probably in southwestern Cherokee County, GA.
Suwanee, on Chattahoochee River about the present Suwanee, Gwinnett County, GA.
Tagwahi, 3 towns:
(1) on Toccoa Creek east of Clarkesville, Habersham County,
(3) perhaps on Persimmon Creek which enters Hiwassee River some distance below Murphy, Cherokee County, NC.
Takwashnaw, a Lower Cherokee town.
Talahi, location unknown.
Talaniyi, in upper Georgia.
Talking Rock, on Talking Rock Creek, an affluent of Coosawattee River, GA.
Tasetsi, on the extreme head of Hiwassee River in Towns County, GA.
Taskigi, 3 towns occupied originally by Tuskegee Indians (in Alabama):
(1) on Little Tennessee River above the junction of the Tellico,
Monroe County, TN;
Tikwalitsi, on Tuckasegee River at Bryson City, Swain County, NC.
Tlanusiyi, at the junction of Hiwassee and Valley Rivers on the site of Murphy, NC.
Tocax, location unknown, perhaps connected with Toxaway or Toccoa.
Torsalla, one of the Keowee towns.
Tricentee, one of the Keowee towns.
Tsilaluhi, on a small branch of Brasstown Creek of Hiwassee River, just within the lines of Towns County, GA.
Tsiskwahi, a district or town in the Eastern Cherokee Reservation, Swain County, NC.
Tsistetsiyi, on South Mouse Creek, a branch of Hiwassee River in Bradley County, TN.
Tsistuyi, on the north bank of Hiwassee River at the entrance of Chestua Creek, in Polk County, TN, at one time occupied by Yuchi.
Tsudinuntiyi, on lower Nantahala River, in Macon County, NC.
Tucharechee, location unknown.
Tuckasegee, 2 towns:
(1) about the junction of the two forks of Tuckasegee River, above Webster, Jackson County, N. C.;
(2) on a branch of Brasstown Creek of Hiwassee River, in Towns County, GA.
Turkeytown, on the west bank of Coosa River opposite the present Center, Cherokee County, AL.
Turniptown, on Turniptown Creek above Ellijay, Gilmer County, GA.
Turtletown, in upper Georgia.
Tusquittah, on Tusquittee Creek near Hayesville, Clay County, NC.
Two Runs, on Etowah River at the crossing of the old Indian trail between Coosa and Tugaloo Rivers, Bartow County, GA.
Ustisti, one of the Lower Towns.
Valleytown, at Valleytown on Valley River, Cherokee County, NC.
Wahyahi, on upper Soco Creek on the Eastern Cherokee Reservation, Jackson County, NC.
Wasasa's Village, on Brown's Creek, a southern affluent of Tennessee River in northern Alabama.
Willstown, on Wills Creek, below Fort Payne, De Kalb County, AL.
There seems to have been a Cherokee migration legend something like that of the Creeks according to which the tribe entered their historic seats from some region toward the northeast.
Continuous contact between the Cherokee and the whites began after Virginia was settled in 1607, when traders from that colony commenced to work their way into the Appalachian Mountains.
Contact became more intimate with the founding of the Carolina colony, and a contingent of 310 Cherokee joined Colonel James Moore in his attack on the Tuscarora in 1713.
In 1730, Sir Alexander Curving staged a personal embassy to the Cherokee and afterward took seven of the Indians to England with him.
In 1738, an enemy more serious even than 'white men made its first appearance in this tribe, namely smallpox, which cut down their numbers by nearly 50 percent.
In 1755, the Cherokee won a great victory over the Abihka Creeks, who forthwith withdrew from the Tennessee River.
Relations with the whites were upon the whole friendly until 1759, when the Indians refused to accede to the demand of the Governor of South Carolina that a number of Indians including two leading chiefs be turned over to him for execution under the charge that they had killed a white man. He had asked also to have 24 other chiefs sent to him merely on suspicion that they entertained hostile intentions. War followed, and the Indians captured Fort Loudon, a post in the heart of their country,
August 8, 1760, after having defeated an army which came to relieve it. The year following, however, the Indians were defeated on June 10, by a larger force under Col. James Grant, who left the greater number of the Middle Cherokee settlements in ashes, and compelled the tribe to make peace.
In 1769, the Cherokee are said to have suffered a severe defeat at the hands of the Chickasaw at the Chickasaw Oldfields.
On the outbreak of the American Revolution, they sided with the British and continued hostilities after its close - until 1794.
Meanwhile parties of Cherokee had pushed down Tennessee River and formed new settlements near the present Tennessee - Alabama boundary.
Shortly after 1800, missionary work was begun among them, and in 1820 they adopted a regular form of government modeled on that of the United States.
In the meantime large numbers of them, wearied of the encroachments of the whites, crossed the Mississippi and settled in the territory now included in the state of Arkansas.
In 1821, Sequoya, son of a mixed-blood Cherokee woman by a white man, submitted a syllabary of his own devising to the chief men of the nation, and, on their approval, the Cherokee of all ages set about learning it with such zeal that in a few months numbers of them were able to read and write by means of it.
In 1822, Sequoya went west to teach his alphabet to the Indians of the western division, and he remained among them permanently.
The pressure of the whites upon the frontiers of the eastern Cherokee was soon increased by the discovery of gold near the present Dahlonega, Georgia, and after a few years of fruitless struggle the nation bowed to the inevitable and by the treaty of New Echota, December 29, 1835, sold all of their territories not previously given up and agreed to remove to the other side of the Mississippi to lands to be set apart for them.
These lands were in the northeastern part of the present Oklahoma, and there the greater part of the tribe removed in the winter of 1838-39, suffering great hardships and losing nearly one-fourth of their number on the way.
Before the main migration took place one band of Cherokee had established themselves in Texas where they obtained a grant of land from the Mexican government, but the Texas revolutionists refused to recognize this claim although it was supported by Gen. Sam Houston. In consequence, the Cherokee chief Bowl was killed in 1839, along with many of his men, and the rest were expelled from the state.
At the time of the great migration, several hundred Cherokee escaped to the mountains where they lived as refugees until in 1842, through the efforts of William H. Thomas, an influential trader, they received permission to remain on lands set apart for their use in western North Carolina, the Qualla Reservation, where their descendants still reside.
The early years of the reestablished Cherokee Nation west of the Mississippi were troubled by differences between the faction that had approved removal and that which had opposed it. Afterward the tribal life was entirely disrupted for a few years by the Civil War.
In 1867 and 1870, the Delaware and Shawnee were admitted from Kansas and incorporated into the nation.
March 3, 1906, the Cherokee government came to an end, and in time the lands were allotted in severalty, and the Cherokee people soon became citizens of the new state of Oklahoma.
Mooney (1928) estimates that in 1650 there was a total Cherokee population of 22,000.
In 1715, a rather careful estimate, yet in all probability too low, gave a total of 11,210 (Lower Cherokee 2,100; Middle 6,350; Upper 2,760), including 4,000 warriors and distributed among 60 villages.
In 1720, two estimates were made, of 10,000 and 11,500 respectively, but in 1729 the estimate jumps to 20,000, with 6,000 warriors, distributed in 64 towns.
In 1755, a North Carolina estimate gives five divisions of the tribe and a total of 2,590 men.
In 1760, we find a flat figure of 2,000; in 1761, about 3,000.
Even before this time the Cherokee are supposed to have lost heavily from smallpox, intoxicants, and wars with the colonists, but at the time of their forced removal to the west in 1838 those in their old country had increased to 16,542.
Those already in the west were estimated at about 6,000.
The Civil War interfered with their growth but in 1885 they numbered 19,000, about 17,000 being in the west.
In 1902, there were officially reported in the west 28,016 persons of Cherokee blood, including all degrees of admixture, but this includes several thousand persons repudiated by the tribal courts.
The Census of 1910 returned 31,489 Cherokee, 29,610 of whom were in Oklahoma, 1,406 in North Carolina, and the rest scattered in 23 other States.
In 1923 the report of the United States Indian Office gave 36,432 Cherokee "by blood" in Oklahoma, and 2,515 in North Carolina: total 38,947.
In 1930, 45,238 were returned: 40,904 in Oklahoma, 1,963 in North Carolina, and the rest in more than 36 other States.
In 1937 the number of eastern Cherokee was given as 3,327.
The Cherokee tribe is one of the most famous in all North America:
(1) on account of its size and strength and the prominent
part it played in the history of our country,
Additionally, Colbert County, AL.; Cherokee County, IA; Crawford County, KS; Lawrence County, KY; and the name of stations in Louisville, KY; Swain County, NC; Alfalfa County, OK; and San Saba County, TX. There is a Cherokee City in Benton County, AR; Cherokee Dam at Jefferson City, TN; and Cherokee Falls in Cherokee County, SC. Several prominent Americans were descended from this tribe, including Senator Robert Owen and Will Rogers.
A number of Cherokee chiefs having come down to Charles Town in company with a trader to express their desire for peace, a force of several hundred white troops and a number of negroes under Colonel Maurice Moore went up the Savannah in the winter of 1715-16 and made headquarters among the Lower Cherokee, where they were met by the chiefs of the lower and some of the western towns, who reaffirmed their desire for a lasting peace with the English, but refused to fight against the Yamassee, although willing to proceed against some other tribes. They laid the blame for most of the trouble upon the traders, who "had been very abuseful to them of late."
A detachment under Colonel George Chicken, sent to the Upper Cherokee, penetrated to "Quoneashee" (Tlanusi'yi, on Hiwassee, about the present Murphy) where they found the chiefs more defiant, resolved to continue the war against the Creeks, with whom the English were then trying to make peace, and demanding large supplies of guns and ammunition, saying that if they made a peace with the other tribes they would have no means of getting slaves with which to buy ammunition for themselves.
At this time they claimed 2,370 warriors, of whom half were believed to have guns. As the strength of the whole Cherokee Nation was much greater, this estimate may have been for the upper and middle Cherokee only. After "abundance of persuading" by the officers, they finally "told us they would trust us once again," and an arrangement was made to furnish them two hundred guns with a supply of ammunition, together with fifty white soldiers, to assist them against the tribes with which the English were still at war.
In March, 1716, this force was increased by one hundred men. The detachment under Colonel Chicken returned by way of the towns on the upper part of the Little Tennessee River, thus penetrating the heart of the Cherokee country.