The Cherokees are the original residents of the American southeast region, Georgia, North and South Carolina, Virginia, Kentucky, and Tennessee. Most Cherokees were forced to move to Oklahoma in the 1800's along the Trail of Tears. Descendants of the Cherokee Indians who survived this death march still live in Oklahoma today. Some Cherokees escaped the Trail of Tears by hiding in the Appalachian hills or taking shelter with sympathetic white neighbors. The descendants of these people live scattered throughout the original Cherokee Indian homelands.
external image cherokee.jpg


Housing- A hut
external image cherokee-winter-house.jpg
This is an example of what their housing would have looked like.


Cherokee men wore breechcloths and leggings. Cherokee women wore skirts and poncho-style blouses made out of woven fiber or deerskin. The Cherokees wore moccasins on their feet. After colonization, Cherokee Indians adapted European costume, including long braided or beaded jackets, cotton blouses and full skirts decorated with ribbon applique, feathered turbans, and the calico tear dress. Here are pictures of Cherokee clothing and photographs of traditional Native American clothing.

Weapons & Tools

Cherokee hunters used bows and arrows to hunt. Fishermen generally used spears and fishing poles. Warriors fired arrows or fought with a melee weapon like a tomahawk or spear. Other important tools used by the Cherokee Indians included stone adzes, hand axes for woodworking, flint knives for skinning animals, wooden hoes for farming, and pots and baskets for storing corn.


The religious views are too detailed to describe in one short paragraph. Visit this site to learn more about Cherokee ceremonies.


The Cherokees were farmers. Cherokee women harvested crops of corn, beans, squash, and sunflowers. They also gathered berries, nuts and fruit to eat. Cherokee men hunted deer, wild turkeys, and fished in the rivers.

Trail of Tears

Trail of Tears was the Cherokee name for what the Americans called Indian Removal. During the 1800's, the US government created an "Indian Territory" in Oklahoma and sent all the eastern Native American tribes to live there. Some tribes willingly agreed to this plan. Other tribes didn't want to go, and the American army forced them. The Cherokee tribe was one of the largest eastern tribes, and they didn't want to leave their homeland. The Cherokees were peaceful allies of the Americans, so they asked the Supreme Court for help. The judges decided the Cherokee Indians could stay in their homes. But the President, Andrew Jackson, sent the army to march the Cherokees to Oklahoma anyway. They weren't prepared for the journey, and it was wintertime. Thousands of Cherokee Indians died on the Trail of Tears. Many Native Americans from other tribes died too. It was a terrible time in history.


Before 1794, the Cherokee had no standing national government. Their structure was based on clans and towns, which had chiefs. The clans had functions within each town and the tribe. The towns appointed some leaders to represent the nation to British, sometimes French, and later American authorities. The Cherokee first used the title Uku,, "First Beloved Man," the English adapted as "Chief." His function was as the focal point for negotiations with Europeans. Here's a time line of Chiefs from each "town".
  • Charitey Hagey of Tugaloo (1716–1721)
  • Wrosetasatow of Keowee (1721–1729)
  • Long Warrior of Tanasi (1729–1730)
  • Moytoy of Great Tellico (1730–1741)
  • Amouskositte of Great Tellico (1741–1753)
  • Kanagatucko (Stalking Turkey) of Chota (1753–1760)
  • Standing Turkey of Chota (1760–1761)
  • Attakullakulla of Tanasi (1761–1775)
  • Oconostota of Chota (1775–1781)
  • Savanukah of Chota (1781–1783)
  • Corntassel of Chota (1783–1788)
  • Little Turkey (1788–1794)

By Christine Lesso