Cherokee Indians


The anglicized form of Tsalagi, which history spells dozens of ways. The accepted meaning is "cave people." The Cherokee were woodlands people living in the Appalachians and other parts of the South.


They once held all lands in the Virginias, the Carolinas, Tennessee, Georgia and Alabama. Word of gold mines stirred interest among the English, who first mentioned the "Cherakae" in 1674. Acquiring firearms in 1700, the tribe became more warlike, leading frontier wars sparked by European colonization.

By the mid-18th century, the Cherokee had a remarkably advanced civilization, including a constitution and democratic form of government. Nearly all owned horses; many were planters and traders, owning homes, cattle and even slaves. Mission schools, laws and America's first Indian newspaper, the CHEROKEE PHOENIX (printed in both Cherokee and English), were established.

The nation had reached its height in the East in 1828 when Georgia began moving to expel them. In 1838-39, they were brutally removed to Indian Territory, suffering the tragic loss of a fourth of their people along the Trail of Tears to the West.


As one of the Five Civilized Tribes in the 1800s in Indian Territory, the Cherokee saw great advancements made in both education and government. And in 1844, the first newspaper in Oklahoma, the CHEROKEE ADVOCATE, was published in Tahlequah.


The Five Civilized Tribes Museum (Muskogee); Will Rogers Memorial (Claremore); Cherokee National Capitol, Prison and Supreme Court (Tahlequah); Cherokee Heritage Center (S of Tahlequah); Murrell Home (Park Hill); Sequoyah's Cabin (Sallisaw).