Cherokee Indian Tribe
Meaning unknown, but possibly from Creek tciloki, "people of a different
speech." The middle and upper dialects substitute l for r.
Alligewi or Alleghanys, a people appearing in Delaware tradition
who were perhaps identical with this tribe.
own name, from one of their most important ancient settlements, and
extended by Algonquian tribes to the whole.
own name, meaning "real people."
Bäniatho, Arapaho name
(Gatschet, MS., B. A. E.).
Entari ronnon, Wyandot name, meaning "mountain people."
Catawba name, meaning "coming out of the ground."
Ochie'tari-ronnon; a Wyandot name.
Oyata' ge'ronóñ, Iroquois name,
meaning "inhabitants of the cave country."
Shánnakiak, Fox name (Gatschet,
Fox MS., B. A. E.).
Talligewi, Delaware name (in Walam
Olum), see Alligewi.
Tcálke, Tonkawa name.
Tcerokiéco, Wichita name.
Wyandot name, meaning "cave people."
The Cherokee language is the most
aberrant form of speech of the Iroquoian linguistic
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. (See also
Kentucky, Oklahoma, and
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:
(1) Old Estatoee on Tugaloo River below the junction of Chattooga
and Tullalah Rivers, in Oconee County, S. C.;
(2) Estatoee in the northwestern part of Pickens County.
Keowee, 2 towns:
(1) Old Keowee on Keowee River near Fort George, Oconee County, S.
(2) New Keowee on the headwaters of Twelve-mile Creek in Pickens
County, S. C., the latter also called probably Little Keowee.
Kulsetsiyi, 3 towns:
(1) on Keowee River, near Fall Creek, Oconee County, S. C.;
(2) on Sugartown or Cullasagee Creek near Franklin, Macon County, N.
(3) on Sugartown Creek, near Morganton, Fannin County, Ga.
Oconee, on Seneca Creek near Walhalla, Oconee County, S. C.
Qualatchee, 2 towns:
(1) on Keowee River, S. C.;
(2) on the headwaters of Chattahoochee River, Ga.
Tomassee, 2 towns:
(1) on Tomassee Creek of Keowee River, Oconee County, S. C.;
(2) on Little Tennessee River near the entrance of Burningtown
Creek, Macon County, S. C.
Toxaway, on Toxaway Creek, a branch of Keowee River, S. C.
Tugaloo, on Tugaloo River at the junction of Toccoa Creek, Habersham
Ustanali, several towns so called;
(1) on Keowee River below the present Fort George, Oconee County, S.
C.; (2) probably on the waters of Tuckasegee River in western North
(3) just above the junction of Coosawatee and Conasauga Rivers to
form the Oostanaula River in Gordon County, Ga.;
(4) perhaps on Eastanollee Creek of Tugaloo River, Franklin County,
(5) perhaps on Eastaunaula Creek flowing into Hiwassee River in
McMinn County, Tenn.; and
(6) possibly another.
Over-the-Hills and Valley Settlements, or Overhill
Amahyaski, location unknown.
Amkalali, location unknown.
Amohi, location unknown.
Anisgayayi, a traditional town on Valley River, Cherokee County, N.
Anuyi, location unknown.
Aquohee, perhaps at the site of Fort Scott, on Nantahala River,
Macon County, N. C.
Atsiniyi, location unknown.
Aumuchee, location unknown.
Ayahliyi, 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,
County, N. C.
Broomtown, location unknown.
Brown's Village, location unknown.
Buffalo Fish, location unknown.
Canuga, 2 towns:
(1) apparently on Keowee River, S. C.;
(2) a traditional town on Pigeon River probably near Waynesville,
Haywood County, N. C.
Catatoga, on Cartoogaja Creek of Little Tennessee River above
Franklin, N. C. Chagee, near the mouth of Chatooga Creek of Tugaloo
River at or near Fort
Madison, southwest Oconee County, S. C.
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
Chickamauga, a temporary settlement on Chickamauga Creek near
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, S. C.
Coyatee, on Little Tennessee River about 10 miles below the Tellico,
about the present
Coytee, Loudon County, Tenn.
Crayfish Town, in upper Georgia.
Creek Path, with Creeks and Shawnee at Gunter's Landing, Ala.
Crowmocker, on Battle Creek which falls into Tennessee River below
Crow Town, on the left bank of Tennessee River near the mouth of
Creek, Cherokee County, Ala.
Cuclon, an unidentified town.
Cusawatee, on lower Coosawatee River in Gordon County, Ga.
Dulastunyi, on Nottely River, Cherokee County, N. C., near the
Georgia line. Dustayalunyi, about the mouth of Shooting Creek, an
affluent of Hiwassee River,
near Hayesville, Clay County, N. C.
Ecochee, on a head stream of Savannah River in northwest South
Elakulsi, in northern Georgia.
Etowah, 2 towns:
(1) on Etowah River about the present Hightower, Forsyth County,
(2) a possible settlement on Hightower Creek of Hiwassee River,
Towns County, Ga.
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,
Gusti, traditional, on Tennessee River near Kingston, Roane County,
Tenn. Halfway Town, about halfway between Sitiku and Chilhowee on
River about the boundary of Monroe and Loudon Counties, Tenn.
Hemptown, on Hemptown Creek near Morgantown, Fannin County, Ga.
Hickory Log, on Etowah River a short distance above Canton, Cherokee
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
northern part of Hall County, Ga.
Kalanunyi, a district or town laid off on the Eastern Cherokee
Reserve in Swain
and Jackson Counties, N. C.
Kanastunyi, on the headwaters of French Broad River near Brevard in
vania County, N. C., also possibly a second on Hiwassee River.
Kansaki, 4 towns:
(1) on Tuckasegee River a short distance above the present Webster
in Jackson County, N. C.;
(2) on the lower course of Canasauga Creek in Polk County, Tenn.;
(3) at the junction of Conasauga and Coosawatee Rivers, the later
site of New Echota, Gordon County, Ga.;
(4) mentioned in the De Soto narratives but perhaps identical with
Kanutaluhi, in northern Georgia.
Kawanunyi, about the present Ducktown, Polk County, Tenn.
Kuhlahi, in upper Georgia.
Kulahiyi, in northeastern Georgia near Currahee Mountain.
Leatherwood, at or near Leatherwood in the northern part of Franklin
Long Island, at the Long Island in Tennessee River on the
Lookout Mountain Town, at or near the present Trenton, Dade County,
Naguchee, about the junction of Soquee and Sautee Rivers in
at the head of Chattahoochee River, Habersham County, Ga.
Nanatlugunyi, traditional, on the site of Jonesboro, Washington
County, Tenn. Nantahala (see Briertown).
Nickajack, on the south bank of Tennessee River in Marion County,
Nununyi, on Oconaluftee River near Cherokee, Swain County, N.
Ocoee, on Ocoee River near its junction with the Hiwassee, about
Oconaluftee, probably at the present Birdtown, on the Eastern
Ooltewah, about the present Ooltewah, on Ooltewah Creek, James
County, Tenn. 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, N. C.
Pine Log, on Pine Log Creek in Bartow County, Ga.
Quacoshatchee, in northwest Pickens County, S. C.
Qualla, agency of the Eastern Cherokee on a branch of Soco River,
Jackson County, N. C.
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, N. C., Eastern
Running Water, on the southeast bank of Tennessee River below
Chattanooga, near the northwestern Georgia line and 4 miles above
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, S. C.
Setsi, traditional, on the south side of Valley River, about 3 miles
below Valleytown, Cherokee County, N. C.
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,
Suwanee, on Chattahoochee River about the present Suwanee,
Gwinnett County, Ga.
Tagwahi, 3 towns:
(1) on Toccoa Creek east of Clarkesville, Habersham County, Ga.;
(2) on Toccoa or Ocoee River about the present Toccoa in Fannin
(3) perhaps on Persimmon Creek which enters Hiwassee
River some distance below Murphy, Cherokee County, N. C.
Takwashnaw, a Lower Cherokee town.
Talahi, location unknown.
Talaniyi, in upper Georgia.
Talking Rock, on Talking Rock Creek, an affluent of Coosawattee
Tasetsi, on the extreme head of Hiwassee River in Towns
Taskigi, 3 towns occupied originally by Tuskegee Indians (see
(1) on Little Tennessee River above the junction of the Tellico,
(2) on the north bank of Tennessee River just below Chattanooga,
(3) perhaps on Tuskegee Creek of Little Tennessee River near
Robbinsville, Graham County, N. C.
Tikwalitsi, on Tuckasegee River at Bryson City, Swain County, N. C.
Tlanusiyi, at the junction of Hiwassee and Valley Rivers on the site
of Murphy, N. C.
Tocax, location unknown, perhaps connected with Toxaway or Toccoa.
Torsalla, one of the Keowee towns.
Tricentee, one of the Keowee
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, N. C.
Tsistetsiyi, on South Mouse Creek, a branch of Hiwassee River in
Bradley County, Tenn.
Tsistuyi, on the north bank of Hiwassee River at the entrance of
Chestua Creek, in Polk County, Tenn., at one time occupied by Yuchi.
Tsudinuntiyi, on lower Nantahala River, in Macon County, N. C.
Tucharechee, location unknown.
Tuckasegee, 2 towns:
(1) about the junction of the two forks of
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, Ala.
Turniptown, on Turniptown Creek above Ellijay, Gilmer County, Ga.
Turtletown, in upper Georgia.
Tusquittah, on Tusquittee Creek near Hayesville, Clay County, N. C.
Two Runs, on Etowah River at the crossing of the old Indian trail
and Tugaloo Rivers, Bartow County, Ga.
Ustisti, one of the Lower Towns.
Vallevtowyn, at Valleytown on Valley River, Cherokee County, N. C.
Wahyahi, on upper Soco Creek on the Eastern Cherokee Reservation,
County, N. C.
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, Ala.
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.
In 1510 De Soto seems to have passed through only one
town that has a Cherokee name, but Pardo in 1566 learned of another, Tanasqui, which has a Cherokee appearance and may have given its name to
Tennessee River. Continuous contact between the Cherokee and the Whites
began after Virginia was settled, when traders from that colony commenced
to work their way into the Appalachian Mountains. Contact became more
intimate with the founding of the Carolina colonies, and a contingent of
310 Cherokee joined 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 laid
the, greater number of the Middle Cherokee settlements in ashes, and
compelled the tribe to make peace. In 1769 they 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 down to 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, had crossed the Mississippi and settled in the territory now
included in the State of Arkansas. In 1821
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, Ga., 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 thither 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
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 Stat of
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 5 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.
Connection in which they have become noted
The Cherokee tribe is one of the most famous in all North
(1) on account of its size and strength and the prominent part it played
in the history of our country,
(2) from the fact that the invention of the Cherokee alphabet by Sequoya
was the only case of the adoption of a system of writing without immediate
White prompting in the annals of our Indians,
(3) from the perpetuation of numerous place names from Cherokee sources
and of the name itself in counties in Alabama, Georgia, Iowa, Kansas,
Oklahoma, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Texas, and places in some of
these States and California, Kentucky, and Arkansas; in Colbert County,
Ala.; Cherokee County, Iowa; Crawford County, Kans.; Lawrence County, Ky.;
and the name of stations in Louisville, Ky.; Swain County, N. C.; Alfalfa
County, Okla.; and San Saba County, Tex. There is a Cherokee City in
Benton County, Ark.; Cherokee Dam at Jefferson City, Tenn.; and Cherokee
Falls in Cherokee County, S. C. Several prominent Americans were descended
from this tribe, including Senator Robert Owen and Will Rogers.
Notes About the Book:
Source: The Indian Tribes of North America, by John R. Swanton, 1953, Bureau of
American Ethnology, Bulletin 145, US Government Printing Office, Washington DC.
Online Publication: The manuscript was scanned and then ocr'd. Minimal editing
has been done, and readers can and should expect some errors in the textual