Many individuals associate the Cherokee with the “Trail of Tears” historical account. However, the story doesn’t begin or end there. This article is a brief history of this native American Tribe.
Since it’s earliest contact with European settlers in the 1500’s, the Cherokee have long been known as one of the most civilized tribes in North America. The tribe originated in the Southeastern part of the United States, especially the State of Georgia. The tribe has existed for thousands of years.
Even after thousand of years, their culture has continued to develop and flourish. They have even developed one of the best bi cultural governments of all native American tribes.
Despite being moved from their home base in Georgia, they have been able to adapt and develop this culture to it’s advanced state today in Oklahoma.
The United States government decided to relocate the tribe in the early 1830’s. This is because gold was discovered in Georgia. To make room for new settlers, the US government decided to march the tribe westward to a new location. In 1938, the move began. The tribe was marched 1000 miles west. This was known as the trail of tears. Many men, women and children died on this forced march west.
Once the tribe arrived there, they quickly established a new constitution. Tahlequah became the new capital of the nation. In 1844, the first newspaper called the Cherokee Advocate was printed in both Cherokee and English language. This showed that the tribe was quickly adjusting to a more civilized type of society.
In the years that followed, the Cherokee built a modern school system. This included 144 elementary schools, 2 schools of higher learning and both a male and female seminary. The school system became so popular, that white settlements along the border of the Cherokee nation sent children to be educated. All of this was done before Oklahoma became a State in 1907.
Today the Cherokee has a population of about 200,000 tribal members. About 70,000 live within a 7,000 square mile area known as Cherokee nation. This area is not considered a reservation. It is a jurisdictional area.
Over the years, the Cherokee have developed their own judicial system, an executive power (the chief), and a legislative branch. Besides this form of self government, they work well within the United States government.