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When first discovered, the Cherokee were occupying the mountainous country about the headwaters of the Tennessee River and portions of Georgia and South Carolina, up to 1830. They form a family by themselves, supposed, however, to be somewhat remotely connected with the Great Iroquois family. They call themselves in their language Tsaraghee. According to their traditions, they came to this country before the Greeks, dispossessing a people of whom there is now no record. Before and during the Revolution they were friendly to and aided the English. A treaty of peace was made with them, by which they acknowledged the sovereignty of the United States November 28, 1785, and were confirmed in the possession of their lands, occupying a Considerable portion of Tennessee and parts of North Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi. Commenced migrating to the trans-Mississippi country as early as 1790, consequent upon the encroachments of civilization, and in 1818 3,000 more emigrated. As frequent cessions of their lands had reduced their territory to less than 8,000 square miles in extent, and also in consequence of the hostility of the Georgians, they were all removed in 1838 to their present reservation in the Indian Territory, excepting about 1,000, who remained in North Carolina. . At the opening. of the civil war they had progressed to a high degree of prosperity, but suffered great injury from both parties ravaging their country, and also in the emancipation of their slaves. Nearly all the Cherokees at first joined the Confederacy, but after the fight at Pea Ridge, seeing the result doubtful, 9,000, under Colonel Downing, with a majority of the nation, abandoned the southern cause and joined the Union forces; 6,500 adhered to the Confederacy to the end. At the time of their removal west the Cherokees numbered about 27,000. In 1867 they were reduced to 13,566, but since then have increased, so that they now number about 18,000. There are about 1,700 yet in North Carolina, in a prosperous condition, owning about 70,000 acres of land.
The reservation in the Indian Territory comprises about 5,000,000 acres, only one-third of it capable of cultivation, and of which they are now working some 90,000 acres. Their crops for 1875 aggregated 630,000 bushels corn, 70,000 bushels wheat, 35,000 bushels oats, 50,000 tons hay, 500,000 feet of lumber, &c. They have 63 schools, attended by nearly 2,000 children, that are supported by a fund of $1,580,000, held by the United States. Under their present constitution they are governed by a national committee and council elected for two years. The executive, or chief, is elected for four years.
The following portraits show the effects of the civilizing influences they have been living under, and also the extensive admixture of white blood among them by intermarriage:
List of illustrations.
66. Colonel Downing.
68. Colonel Adair.
69. Samuel Smith.
70. Borum Davis.
71. Captain Scraper.