ᎠᏂᏴᏫᏯFlag of the Cherokee Nation in OklahomaFlag of the Eastern Band CherokeeFlag of the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians
Cherokee Nation, Oklahoma (f):
Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, North Carolina (f):
(f) = federally recognized
|Rels:||Christianity (Southern Baptist), Traditional Ah-ni-yv-wi-ya|
|Related:||Iroquois (Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, Seneca, Tuscarora), Nottoway, Meherrin, Coree.|
For other uses see Cherokee (disambiguation).
The Cherokee are a Native American people orginally from the Southeastern United States (Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee). They are linguistically connected to speakers of the Iroquoian language. The word Cherokee may have derived from the Choctaw word 'Cha-la-kee' meaning "those who live in the mountains." The Cherokee refer to themselves as Tsa-la-gi (pronounced "Zah la gee" or "Tsa lah gee" in the eastern Giduwa dialect or pronouced "ja-la-gee" in western dialect) or A-ni-yv-wi-ya (pronounced "ah knee yuh wee yaw" (western) or "Ah nee yuhn wi yah" (Eastern dialect), literal translation: "Principal People").
In the 19th century, Cherokees were known as one of the "Five Civilized Tribes" because they had integrated numerous cultural and technological practices of their European-American neighbors. According to the 2000 U.S. Census, they are the largest of the 563 federally recognized Native American tribes in the United States.
The Cherokee Nation and the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians have headquarters in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians is located at Cherokee, North Carolina. All three are federally recognized.
See also: Models of migration to the New World.
Nearly 12,000 years ago, Native Americans or Paleo-indians appeared in what is today referred to as "The South." Paleo-Indians in the Southeast were hunter-gatherers who pursued a wide range of animals, including the megafauna, which became extinct following the end of the Pleistocene age. It is commonly assumed that Paleo-Indians were specialized, highly mobile foragers that hunted late Pleistocene fauna such as bison, mastodons, caribou, and mammoths, although direct evidence is meager in the Southeast.
In the late Archaic Period, the Cherokee ancestors began to cultivate plants such as marsh elder, lambsquarters, sunflowers, pigweed, and some native squash. The increased food supply provided leisure time, which people used to build mounds, refine arts and crafts (and create new art forms like shell gorgets), and celebrate religious ceremonies. During Mississippian Period (900 A.D. to 1500 A.D.), Cherokee ancestors developed a new variety of corn called eastern flint, which closely resembles modern corn. At the Green Corn Ceremony, families, clans, and tribes came together for prayers, dances, marriages, and reconciliations
Much of what is known about pre-19th century Cherokee culture and society comes from the papers of American writer John Howard Payne. The Payne papers describe the account by Cherokee elders of a traditional societal structure in which a "white" organization of elders represented the seven clans. According to Payne, this group, which was hereditary and described as priestly, was responsible for religious activities such as healing, purification, and prayer. A second group of younger men, the "red" organization, was responsible for warfare. Warfare was considered a polluting activity which required the purification of the priestly class before participants could reintegrate into normal village life. This hierarchy had disappeared long before the 18th century. The reasons for the change have been debated, with the origin of the decline often located with a revolt by the Cherokee against the abuses of the priestly class known as the Ani-kutani.
Ethnographer James Mooney, who studied the Cherokee in the late 1880s, first traced the decline of the former hierarchy to this revolt. By the time of Mooney, the structure of Cherokee religious practitioners was more informal, based more on individual knowledge and ability than upon heredity. In addition, separation of the Eastern Cherokee, who had not participated in the removal and remained in the mountains of western North Carolina, further complicated the traditional hierarchies.
Another major source of early cultural history comes from materials written in the 19th century by the didanvwisgi (Cherokee:ᏗᏓᏅᏫᏍᎩ), Cherokee medicine men, after Sequoya's creation of the Cherokee syllabary in the 1820s. Initially only the didanvwisgi used these materials, which were considered extremely powerful. Later, the writings were widely adopted by the Cherokee people.
Unlike most other Indians in the American southeast at the start of the historic era, the Cherokee spoke an Iroquoian language. (Other exceptions were the Tucarora, Nottoway, Meherrin, and Coree.) Since the Great Lakes region was the core of Iroquoian language speakers, scholars have theorized that the Cherokee migrated south from that region. Linguistic analysis shows a relatively large difference between Cherokee and the northern Iroquoian languages, suggesting a split in the distant past. Glottochronology studies suggest the split occurred between about 1,500 and 1,800 B.C. The ancient settlement of Kituwa on the Tuckasegee River, formerly next to and now part of part of Qualla Boundary (the reservation of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians), is often cited as the original Cherokee settlement in the Southeast.
In describing the history of American Indians living in the interior of the American southeast, scholars use the term prehistory for the time before 1540 and European contact. This was when Spanish under Hernando de Soto first passed through Cherokee country. De Soto's expedition visited many of the Georgia and Tennessee villages later identified as Cherokee, but recorded them as then ruled by the Coosa chiefdom. To the northeast, the Chiska inhabited all the country surrounding Whitetop Mountain where Tennessee, Virginia and North Carolina meet, while a Chalaque nation was recorded as living around the Keowee River where North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia meet (Mooney).
Under Juan Pardo, Spanish troops built a total of six forts in 1567 in the interior: at the regional chiefdom of Joara and other towns in 1567-68. It was part of a path he was trying to fortify to go west to Spanish silver mining settlements in Mexico. Joara was a chiefdom of the Mississippian mound builder culture, established about 1000 CE. The Spanish alienated the natives over the months and were soon destroyed. During the years of their occupation, native headmen led groups at Joara, Nikwasi, Estatoe, Tugaloo, Conasauga, and Kituwa in the late 1560s. The Catawba Nation have been proposed as likely descendants of the natives at Joara.
After the 18th century, the towns were later recorded as Cherokee. The Cherokee frequently kept the name of abandoned Muscogee towns after their occupation. Kituwa was almost certainly Cherokee. Joara was a regional chiefdom at the time of Pardo's forays into the interior; his records list its headman as a mico and those of the other towns as oratas. Late 20th and early 21st century archaeological finds have given more insight into the Joara culture.
Following these failed attempts at colonization, Europeans had no recorded contact with Indians in the southeast for nearly a century. The term protohistory is sometimes used for this period. What happened during this time is uncertain, but the territory of the former Coosa and Chiska nations seems to have been dominated by the Cherokee. The members of the former groups were either assimilated by the larger Cherokee nation, or altered the names of their tribes and moved elsewhere. Since historic documentation is generally lacking, Cherokee prehistory and protohistory have been studied via oral tradition, linguistic analysis, and archaeology.
Heckewelder in 1819 recounted a Lenape tradition that the regions south of the Ohio River had once been occupied by a former nation called Alligewi or Talligewi, which some theories assume derives from Tsalagi. Others have connected them with early references to a Cherokee legend of a 'moon-eyed' race who had been in their land before them.
Iroquois called the Cherokee Oyata’ge'ronoñ (inhabitants of the cave country) (Hewitt). Allegheny Mountain's Mingo called the Upper-most Cherokee, Uyata'kéá, the "cave" kind, implying steep hollow (Lachler, McElwain).  The word "Cherokee" may have originally been derived from the Choctaw trade language word Cha-la-kee, which means "those who live in the mountains" – or (also Choctaw) Chi-luk-ik-bi meaning "those who live in the cave country".
According to James Mooney, the English first had contact with the Cherokee in 1654. Around this time, the Powhatan were threatened by a tribe they knew as the Rickahockans or Rechahecrians, who invaded from the west and settled near the falls of the James River. While some scholars have linked these references to the Cherokee, others deduce they were a Siouan tribe, since they appeared in company with Monacan and Nahyssan groups.
One of the earliest English accounts comes from the expedition of James Needham and Gabriel Arthur, sent in 1673 by fur-trader Abraham Wood from Fort Henry (modern Petersburg, Virginia) to the Overhill Cherokee country. Wood hoped to forge a direct trading connection with the Cherokee to bypass the Occaneechi Indians, who were serving as middlemen on the Trading Path. The two colonial Virginians did make contact with the Cherokee, although Needham was killed on the return journey and Arthur was almost killed. By the late seventeenth century, colonial traders from both Virginia and South Carolina were making regular journeys to Cherokee lands, but few wrote about their experiences.
The character and events of the early trading contact period have been pieced together by historians' examination of records of colonial laws and lawsuits involving traders. The trade was mainly deerskins, raw material for the booming European leather industry, in exchange for European technology "trade goods", such as iron and steel tools (kettles, knives, etc), firearms, gunpowder, and ammunition. In 1705, traders complained that their business had been lost and replaced by Indian slave trade instigated by Governor Moore of South Carolina. Moore had commissioned people to "set upon, assault, kill, destroy, and take captive as many Indians as possible". When the captives were sold, traders split profits with the Governor. Although colonial governments early prohibited selling alcohol to Indians, traders commonly used rum, and later whiskey, as common items of trade.
During the early historic era, Europeans wrote of several Cherokee town groups, usually using the terms Lower, Middle, and Overhill towns to designate the towns, from the Piedmont across the Allegheny Mountains. The Lower Towns were situated on the headwater streams of the Savannah River, mainly in present-day western South Carolina and northeastern Georgia. Keowee was one of the chief towns, as was Tugaloo.
The Middle Towns were located in present western North Carolina, on the headwater streams of the Tennessee River, such as the upper Little Tennessee River, upper Hiwassee River, and upper French Broad River. Among several chief towns were Nikwasi and Joara, first recorded in the late 16th century during Spanish settlement there with the establishment of Fort San Juan.
The Overhill Towns were located across the higher mountains in present eastern Tennessee and northwestern Georgia. Principal towns included Chota, Tellico, and Tanasi. These terms were created and used by Europeans to describe their changing geopolitical relationship with the Cherokee.
There were two more groups of towns often listed as part of the three: the Out Towns, whose chief town was Kituwa on the Tuckaseegee River, considered the mother town of all Cherokee; and the Valley Towns, whose chief town was Tomotley on the Valley River (not the same as the Tomotley on the Little Tennessee River). The former shared the dialect of the Middle Towns and the latter that of the Overhill (later Upper) Towns.
Of the southeastern Indian confederacies of the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries (Creek, Chickasaw, Choctaw, etc.), the Cherokee were one of the most populous and powerful. They were relatively isolated by their hilly and mountainous homeland. A small-scale trading system was established with Virginia in the late seventeenth century. In the 1690s, the Cherokee had founded a much stronger and important trade relationship with the colony of South Carolina, based in Charles Town. By the 1700s, this overshadowed the Virginia relationship.
Around 1710, the Cherokee and the Chickasaw forced their joint enemy, the Shawnee, north of the Ohio River. In the 1660s, the Cherokee had allowed a refugee group of the Shawnee to settle in the Cumberland Basin when they were fleeing the Iroquois during the Beaver Wars. The Shawnee also acted as a buffer against the Cherokees' traditional Chickasaw enemies.
The Cherokee allowed another group of Shawnee to pass through their territory to settle on the Savannah River, where they would be a buffer against the Catawba. Over time, more Shawnee came into the area and began to attract the attention of the Iroquois. In addition, they were allied with the French. The British-allied Cherokee and Chickasaw finally decided to act n concert to expel the Shawnees. The conflict lasted 1710-1715. Sporadic warfare continued until 1768 when a peace was forged between the Shawnee and Cherokee.
See main article: Tuscarora War. Except for some trading contact, the Cherokee remained relatively unaffected by the presence of European colonists in America until the Tuscarora War and its aftermath. In 1711, the Tuscarora began attacking colonists in North Carolina after diplomatic attempts to address various grievances failed. The governor of North Carolina asked South Carolina for military aid. Before the war was over several years later, South Carolina had mustered and sent two armies against the Tuscarora. The ranks of both armies were made up mostly of Indians, with Yamasee troops especially.
The first army, under the command of John Barnwell, campaigned in North Carolina in 1712. By the end of the year, a fragile peace had been established, and the army dispersed. No Cherokee were involved in the first army. Hostilities between the Tuscarora and North Carolina broke out soon after.
In late 1712 to early 1713, a second army from South Carolina fought the Tuscarora. This army consisted of about 100 British and over 700 Indian soldiers. As with the first army, the second depended heavily on the Yamasee and Catawba. This time, however, hundreds of Cherokee also joined the army. The army's campaign ended after a major Tuscarora defeat at Hancock's Fort. All told, over 1,000 Tuscarora and allied Indians were killed or captured. Those captured were mainly sold into the Indian slave trade. Although the second army from South Carolina disbanded soon after the battle, the Tuscarora War continued for several years. Some previously neutral Tuscarora turned hostile, and the Iroquois confederacy entered the dispute. In the end a large number of Tuscarora moved north to live among the Iroquois.
The Tuscarora War altered the geopolitical context of colonial America in several ways, including an increased Iroquois interest in the south. For the many southeastern Indians involved, it was the first time so many had collaborated in a military campaign. It was also the first time they saw how different the various English colonies were. As a result, the war helped to bind the Indians of the entire region together. It enhanced Indian networks of communication and trade. The Cherokee became much more closely integrated with the region's various Indians and Europeans. The Tuscarora War marked the beginning of an English-Cherokee relationship that, despite breaking down on occasion, remained strong for much of the 18th century.
The Tuscarora War also marked the rise of Cherokee military power, demonstrated in the 1714 attack and destruction of the Yuchi town of Chestowee (in today's Bradley County, Tennessee). The English traders Alexander Long and Eleazer Wiggan instigated the attack through various deceptions and promises, although there had been a pre-existing conflict between the Cherokee and Yuchi. The traders' plot was based in the Cherokee town of Euphase (Great Hiwassee). It mainly involved Cherokee from that town. In May 1714, the Cherokee destroyed the Yuchi town of Chestowee. Inhabitants not killed or captured fled to the Creek or the Savannah River Yuchi. Long and Wiggan told the Cherokee that the South Carolina government wished for and approved this attack, which was not true. The governor of South Carolina, having heard of the plot, sent a messenger to tell the Cherokee not to continue the attack on Yuchi. The messenger arrived too late to save Chestowee. The Cherokee attack on the Yuchi ended with Chestowee, but it was enough to catch the attention of every Indian tribe and European colony in the region. Thus, around 1715, the Cherokee emerged as a major regional power.
See main article: Yamasee War.
In 1715, just as the Tuscarora War was winding down, the Yamasee War broke out. Numerous Indian tribes launched attacks on South Carolina. The Cherokee participated in some of the attacks, but were divided on what course to take. After South Carolina's militia succeeded in driving off the Yamasee and Catawba, the Cherokee's position became strategically pivotal. Both South Carolina and the Lower Creek tried to gain Cherokee support. Some Cherokee favored an alliance with South Carolina and war on the Creek, while others favored the opposite.
The impasse was resolved in January 1716, when a delegation of Creek leaders was murdered at the Cherokee town of Tugaloo. Subsequently, the Cherokee launched attacks against the Creek. In 1717, peace treaties between South Carolina and the Creek were completed, undermining the Cherokee's commitment to war. Hostility and sporadic raids between the Cherokee and Creek continued for decades. These raids came to a head at the Battle of Taliwa in 1755, present-day Ball Ground, Georgia, with the defeat of the Muscogee; the latter had, however, withdrawn most of their towns from what is now North Georgia to leave a buffer zone between themselves and the Cherokee.
In 1721, the Cherokee made their first land cession to the British, selling the South Carolina colony a small strip of land between the Saluda, Santee and Edisto rivers. In 1730, at Nikwasi, Moytoy of Tellico was chosen as "Emperor" by the elders of the principal Cherokee towns at the behest of Sir Alexander Cumming, who wished to use this to gain control over the Cherokee. Moytoy agreed to recognize King George II of Great Britain as the Cherokee protector. Seven prominent Cherokee, including Attakullakulla, traveled with Sir Alexander Cuming back to England. The Cherokee delegation stayed in London for four months. The visit culminated in a formal treaty of alliance between the British and Cherokee, the 1730 Treaty of Whitehall. While the journey to London and the treaty were important factors in future British-Cherokee relations, the title of Cherokee Emperor did not carry much clout among the Cherokee. Although Moytoy's son Amouskosette attempted to succeed him as "Emperor" in 1741, the power in the Overhill country had shifted to Tanasi, then to Chota.
The unification of the Cherokee nation was essentially ceremonial, with political authority remaining town-based for decades afterward. In addition, Sir Alexander Cuming's aspirations to play an important role in Cherokee affairs failed. In 1735 the Cherokee were estimated to have sixty-four towns and villages and 6000 fighting men. In 1738 - 39 smallpox was introduced to the country via sailors and slaves from the slave trade. An epidemic broke out among the Cherokee, who had no natural immunity. Nearly half their population died within a year. Hundreds of other Cherokee committed suicide due to disfigurement from the disease.
This conflict between the Cherokee and the Muscogee was over disputed hunting grounds in what is now North Georgia, lasting from 1753-1755. It culminated in victory for the Cherokee after the Battle of Taliwa.
See main article: Anglo-Cherokee War. Upon hearing reports that the French were planning to build forts in Cherokee territory (as they had with Ft. Charleville at the Great Salt Lick now Nashville, Tennessee), the British hastened to build forts of their own, completing Fort Prince George near Keowee (in South Carolina) among the Lower Towns, and in 1756, Fort Loudoun near Chota. In this year the Cherokee gave their assistance to the British in the French and Indian War; however, serious misunderstandings between the two allies arose quickly. In 1760, the Cherokee besieged both forts, eventually capturing Fort Loudoun. The British retaliated by destroying 15 Cherokee communities in 1761, and peace treaties ending hostilities were signed by the end of the year. A Royal Proclamation of 1763 from King George III forbade British settlements west of the Appalachian crest, attempting to afford some temporary protection from encroachment to the Cherokee, but it proved difficult to enforce .
The Cherokee and Chickasaw continued to war intermittently with the Shawnee along the Cumberland River for many years; the Shawnee allied with the Lenape, who remained at war with the Cherokee until 1768.
After their success against the Muscogee, the Cherokee turned their attention west, to the hunting grounds of the Chickasaw in what is now northeast Alabama from 1758 to 1769. After eleven years of intermittent warfare, they were defeated at the Battle of Chickasaw Old Fields.
See main article: Watauga Association. Following the Battle of Alamance in 1771, which brought their Regulator movement to an end, many North Carolinians refused to take the new oath of allegiance to the Royal Crown and withdrew from the province. One of these, James Robertson, led a group of some twelve or thirteen Regulator families from near where present day Raleigh, North Carolina now stands into the west. Believing they were in the territorial limits of the colony of Virginia, they settled on the banks of the Watauga River. After a survey proved their mistake, Deputy Superintendent Cameron ordered them to leave. However, certain Cherokee leaders in the region interceded on their behalf, and they were allowed to remain, provided there was no further encroachment.
In 1772, Robertson and the pioneers who had eventually settled in Northeast Tennessee (along the Watauga, the Doe, the Holston, and the Nolichucky Rivers) met at Sycamore Shoals to establish an independent regional government known as the Watauga Association.
The Cherokee would soon come to regret their generosity, because these settlements and branches on the Cumberland River were to become the bane of their existence.
See main article: Transylvania (colony).
In response to the first attempt by Daniel Boone and his party to establish a settlement inside the hunting grounds of Kentucky, the Shawnee, Lenape (Delaware), Mingo, and some Cherokee attacked a scouting and forage party that included Boone’s son. This sparked the beginning of what was known as Dunmore's War (1773 - 1774), named after the governor of the Virginia colony at the time.
One year later at Sycamore Shoals, in 1775, a group of North Carolina speculators led by Rihcard Henderson negotiated the Treaty of Watauga with Overhill Cherokee leaders, chief of whom were Oconostota and Attakullakulla, in which the Cherokee surrendered claim to the Kain-tuck-ee (Ganda'gi) lands and supposedly gave the Transylvania Land Company ownership. This treaty disregarded the claims to the region by other tribes such as the Shawnee and Chickasaw.
Dragging Canoe, chief of Great Island Town (Amoyeli Egwa) and son of Attakullakulla, refused to go along with the deal. He told the North Carolina men, “You have bought a fair land, but there is a cloud hanging over it; you will find its settlement dark and bloody”. The governors of Virginia and North Carolina repudiated the Watauga treaty, and Henderson had to flee to avoid arrest.
The year after the beginning of the American Revolution, the Shawnee chief Cornstalk led a delegation from the northern tribes to the southern tribes and met with the Cherokee leaders at Chota, calling for united action against those they called the Long Knives. At the close of his speech, he offered his war belt, and Dragging Canoe (Tsiyugunisini) accepted it, along with Abraham of Chilhowee (Tsulawiyi). Dragging Canoe of Great Island also accepted belts from the Ottawa and the Iroquois, while Savanukah, the Raven of Chota, accepted the belt from the Lenape.
The Middle Towns were to attack South Carolina, the Lower Towns Georgia, and the Overhill Towns Virginia and North Carolina. The Overhill Cherokee offensive proved to be disastrous for the attackers, however, because the settlers had been warned by the Beloved Woman (the female equivalent of Beloved Man, or chief) Nancy Ward, particularly those under Dragging Canoe going up against the Holston settlements. Abraham of Chilhowee was likewise unsucessful in his attempt to take Fort Watauga, and Savanukah did no real military damage. After the failed raids, Dragging Canoe led his warriors to South Carolina to join in the attack of the the Lower Towns.
In response, North Carolina sent 2400 militia to scour the Middle Towns while South Carolina and Georgia sent 2000 men to attack the Lower Towns. In all, they destroyed more than fifty towns, burned their houses and food, destroyed their orchards, slaughtered livestocks, and killed hundreds, as well as put survivors on the slave auction block. In the meantime, Virginia sent a large force and North Carolina volunteers to the Overhill Towns. By this time, Dragging Canoe had returned with his warriors and calling for them to burn their own towns, send the women, children, and old below the Hiwassie, and ambush the Virginians at the French Broad River. Oconostota advocated making peace at any price and the rest of the older chiefs agreed.
Dragging Canoe gathered those of like mind and migrated southwest, even as those from the Lower Towns poured into North Georgia. The Virginia force found Great Island, Citico (Sitiku), Toqua (Dakwa), Tuskeegee (Taskigi), and Great Tellico deserted, with only the older leaders who had opposed the younger ones and their war remaining. Christian, commander of the Virginia force, limited the reprisal in the Overhill Towns to the burning of the deserted towns.
The next year, 1777, the Cherokee in the Hill, Valley, Lower, and Overhill towns signed the Treaty of Dewitt’s Corner with Georgia and South Carolina and the Treaty of Fort Henry with Virginia and North Carolina agreeing to stop warring and ceding the lands of the Lower Towns, with those colonies promising in return to protect them from attack, a promise that was ephemeral at best.
See main article: Chickamauga wars.
The area to which Dragging Canoe and his band migrated was in what is now the region of Chattanooga, Tennessee, and here they set established eleven new towns, four of which bore names of towns on the Little Tennessee: Toqua, Citico, Tuskeegee, and even Chota. He himself made his headquarters in the town called Chickamauga, which lent its name to the entire surrounding area, for which reason the frontiersmen and colonists called his band the "Chickamauga" or the "Chickamauga Cherokee", though they were never a separate tribe. From here Dragging Canoe began a guerrilla war that lasted nearly two decades and terrorized the entire western frontier from the edge of the Muscogee nation north to the Ohio River and east into Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina, as well as Georgia.
Because of the activities of the Chickamauga Cherokee, the frontiermen, and sometimes the colonies and later states, launched punitive raids against the Cherokee, usually against the Overhill Towns. However, large forces invaded the Chickamauga area in 1777 and destroyed all eleven towns. After that occurred again in 1782, Dragging Canoe and his people shifted west and southwest yet again, this time to what became known as the Five Lower Towns (though they later number much more than five), which were west of the edge of the Cumberland Mountains and below the series of navigation hazards in the Tennessee River Gorge. Due to their new location, and addtions of population from the understandably unhappy Lower Towns people, he and his people began to be referred from this point as the "Lower Cherokee". Their headquarters area was never invaded again until the final year of the wars.
It was about this time that Dragging Canoe, now based out of Running Water Town (Amogayunyi, at the current Whiteside, Tennessee), began to work extensively in cooperation the Upper Muscogee, often as separate forces but sometimes coming together for large operations. The Shawnee and other northern tribes were allies already, the Shawnee even sending warriors to fight with those of his band; the noted war leader Chiksika and his younger brother Tecumseh were among one of the Shawnee war parties who did so, staying for nearly two years. The Cherokee, of course, responded in kind and sent warriors north.
Just as Dragging Canoe and those of like mind among the other tribes of the South were coming together in a coalition to fight the Americans with the help of the British, the Treaty of Paris was signed in 1783. Dragging Canoe simply travelled south to Pensacola and obtained the support of the Spanish of West Florida to continue his war, still maintaining relations with the British governor at Detroit.
In 1788, the murder of Old Tassel, the headman of the Overhill Cherokee and principal chief of the Cherokee nation, along with several other pacifist chiefs while on an embassy to the State of Franklin and the invitation of the latter enraged the whole Cherokee nation. More joined the Chickamauga Cherokee in their raids or carried out ones of their own than ever before. In response, Franklin sent out a large force to invade the Five Lower Towns, but this was soundly defeated at the foot of Lookout Mountain. Dragging Canoe raised an army of Cherokee and Muscogee that numbered over three thousand, which split into warbands, some of which were hundreds strong.
Four more years of frontier warfare later, Dragging Canoe came back to his home after a long diplomatic trip which saw the Lower Muscogee and Choctaw accepting his invitation to join the war, but rejection from the Chickasaw. At a huge dance at Lookout Mountain Town (Atalidandaganuyi; now Trenton, Georgia) celebrating his diplomatic successes as well as those of a recent raid by The Glass and his brother Turtle-at-Home on the Cumberland River and into Kentucky. The next morning, Dragging Canoe was dead.
He was succeeded as principal leader of the Lower Cherokee by the nephew of Old Tassel, John Watts, with the assistance of Bloody Fellow and Doublehead. One of the first things Watts did was renew the alliance with Spain through West Florida and shifted his headquarters to Willstown (now Fort Payne, Alabama. The next year, though, he sent a delegation to Knoxville, then capital of the Southwest Territory, to seek terms of peace, the delegation, which included his deputy Doublehead, was attacked. Watts answered this by raising the largest single native force seen on the frontier to date, one single army of over one thousand Cherokee, Muscogee, and Shawnee. They were thwarted in their intentions on Knoxville but did destroy several smaller settlements on the way, one of which, at Cavett's Station, set in motion rivalries that would dominate Cherokee affairs into the 19th century.
In autumn the next year, 1794, General Robertson, military commander of the Mero District (as the Cumberland River settlements were then called) in the Southwest Territory received word that the Lower Cherokee and the Muscogee were planning large-scale attacks on his region. He sent a large force of U.S. army regulars, Mero District militia, and Kentucky volunteers south. The force attacked Nickajack, one of the Five Lower Towns, without warning, destroying it completely, then proceeded to Running Water and destroying it as well. Fortunately for the Cherokee, the greater part of the populations of those two towns was at a stickball play several miles to the south at Crow Town.
That incident, combined with the defeat that summer of the army of their northern allies under Blue Jacket of the Shawnee and Little Turtle of the Miami, convinced Watts and his fellow war leaders that the end of the wars was inevitable. The Treaty of Tellico Blockhouse was signed 7 November 1794, ending the Chickamauga wars.
Following the peace treaty, the leaders of the Lower Cherokee were dominant in national affairs. When the national government of all the Cherokee was organized, the first three persons to hold the office of Principal Chief - Little Turkey (1788-1801), Black Fox (1801-1811), and Pathkiller (1811-1827) - had previously served as warriors under Dragging Canoe, as had the first two Speakers of the National Council, established in 1794, Doublehead and Turtle-at-Home.
The Lower Cherokee had their seat at Willstown, known as the Lower Towns. In addition to those mentioned above, the former warriors such as Bloody Fellow, The Glass, and Dick Justice of the Lower Towns dominated the political affairs of the Nation for the next twenty years and were in many ways more conservative, adopting many facets of acculturation but keeping as many of the old ways as possible.
Roughly speaking, the Lower Towns were south of the Hiwassee River along the Tennessee down to the north border of the Muscogee nation and west of the Conasauga and Ustanali in Georgia while the Upper Towns were north and east of the same and between the Chattahoochee and Conasauga.
The seat of the Upper Towns was at Ustanali (bear Calhoun, Georgia), also the titular seat of the Nation, and with the former warriors James Vann and his proteges The Ridge (formerly known as Pathkiller) and Charles R. Hicks, the "Cherokee Triumvirate", as their dominant leaders, particularly of the younger more acculurated generation. The leaders of these towns were the most progressive, favoring acculturation, formal education, and modern methods of farming.
The settlements of the Cherokee remaining in the highlands of western North Carolina which had become known as the Hill Towns, with their seat at Quallatown, and the lowland Valley Towns, with their seat now at Tuskquitee, were more traditional, as was the Upper Town of Etowah, notable for being inhabited mostly by full-bloods and for being the largest town in the Nation.
When pressure began to be applied to the Cherokee Nation for its members to emigrate westward across the Mississippi, leaders of the Lower Cherokee were the first to lead parties away for good. Likewise, the remaining leaders of the Lower Towns (those mentioned above, Young Dragging Canoe, Sequoyah (George Guess), others) proved to be the strongest advocates of that course of action. The domination of the former warriors over the external affairs of the Nation lasted until a revolt of the young chiefs in the Upper Towns in 1808 temporarily unseated Black Fox, The Glass, and others until the reunification council at Willstown the next year, abolishing separate regional councils.
In 1815 - after the War of 1812, the U.S. Government established a Cherokee Reservation in Arkansas. The reservation boundaries extended from north of the Arkansas River to the southern bank of the White River. Cherokee bands who lived in Arkansas were: The Bowl, Sequoyah, Spring Frog and Tatsi, or Dutch. Another band of Cherokee lived in southeast Missouri, western Kentucky and Tennessee in frontier settlements and in European majority communities around the Mississippi River.
John Ross was an important figure in the history of the Cherokee tribe. His father emigrated from Scotland prior to the Revolutionary War; his mother was a quarter-blood Cherokee woman whose father was also from Scotland. John Ross began his public career in 1809. The Cherokee Nation was founded in 1820, with elected public officials. John Ross became the chief of the tribe in 1828 and remained the chief until his death in 1866.
Cherokees were displaced from their ancestral lands in northern Georgia and the Carolinas in a period of rapidly expanding white population. Some of the rapid expansion was due to a gold rush around Dahlonega, Georgia in the 1830s. Various official reasons for the removal were given. One official argument was that the Cherokee were not efficiently using their land and the land should be given to white farmers. Others suggest that President Andrew Jackson's reasons for this removal policy were humanitarian. Jackson said that the policy was an effort to prevent the Cherokee from facing the fate of "the Mohegan, the Narragansett, and the Delaware". However there is ample evidence that the Cherokee were adapting modern farming techniques, and a modern analysis shows that the area was in general in a state of economic surplus.
The Cherokee were to bring their grievances to U.S. judicial review that set a precedant in Indian Country. In June 1830, a delegation of Cherokee led by John Ross defended Cherokee rights before the U.S. Supreme Court in the Cherokee Nation v. Georgia case. In the case Worcester v. Georgia, the United States Supreme Court held that Cherokee Native Americans were entitled to federal protection from the actions of state governments which would infringe on the tribe's sovereignty. Worcester v. Georgia is considered one of the most important decisions in law dealing with Native Americans.
Despite the Worcester v. Georgia ruling in their favor, nearly all those in the Cherokee Nation were forcibly relocated westward to the Ozark Plateau in 1838-1839, a migration known as the Trail of Tears or in Cherokee Nunna Daul Tsunny (Cherokee:The Trail Where They Cried) and by another term Tlo Va Sa (Cherokee:The Tragedy). This took place during the Indian Removal Act of 1830, although as of 1838, the Cherokee were the last large southern Indian tribe to be removed. Even so, the harsh treatment the Cherokee received at the hands of white settlers caused some to enroll to emigrate west. As the Cherokee were slaveholders, they took enslaved African Americans with them west of the Mississippi.
Among the Cherokee, John Ross led the battle to halt their removal. The position of ross' supporter, commonly referred to as the "National Party", was in opposition to a group known as the "Ridge Party" or the "Treaty Party". The latter was in reference to those who advocated a treaty for terms of emigration to the west, which ultimately led to the Treaty of New Echota, stipulating terms and conditions for the removal of the Cherokee Nation from the lands it then occupied to take up residence in Indian Territory along with their cousins of the Cherokee Nation West (aka "Old Settlers"), which was initially signed by Major Ridge, Elias Boudinot, James Foster, Testaesky, Charles Moore, George Chambers, Tahyeske, Archilla Smith, Andrew Ross (Principal Chief Ross' brother), William Lassley, Caetehee, Tegaheske, Robert Rogers, John Gunter, John A. Bell, Charles Foreman, William Rogers, George W. Adair, James Starr, and Jesse Halfbreed, then later in Washington City by John Ridge and Stand Watie.
On June 22, 1839, Major Ridge, John Ridge and Elias Boudinot were assasinated by a party of twenty-five extremist Ross supporters that included Daniel Colston, John Vann, Archibald Spear, James Spear, Joseph Spear, Hunter, and others. Stand Watie fought off the attempt on his life that day and escaped to Arkansas.
After the end of the American Civil War in 1865, John Ridge's son, novelist John Rollin Ridge, led a group of delegates to Washington, D.C. at the behest of Principal Chief of the Confederate Cherokee Stand Watie in a failed attempt to gain federal recognition for a faction of Cherokee opposed to the leadership of John Ross who wanted to establish a "Southern Cherokee Nation". The federal government signed a treaty with Ross' delegation instead, and the afore-mentioned entity never came into being, and all the former Confederate Cherokee eventually rejoined the Cherokee Nation.
Not all of the eastern Cherokees were removed on the Trail of Tears. William Holland Thomas, a white store owner and state legislator from Jackson County, North Carolina, helped over 600 Cherokee from Qualla Town (the site of modern-day Cherokee, North Carolina) obtain North Carolina citizenship. As citizens, they were exempt from forced removal to the west. In addition, over 400 other Cherokee either hid from Federal troops in the remote Snowbird Mountains of neighboring Graham County, North Carolina, under the leadership of Tsali (ᏣᎵ) (the subject of the outdoor drama Unto These Hills held in Cherokee, North Carolina), or belonged to in the former Valley Towns area around the Cheoah River who negotiated staying in North Carolina with that state's government. In addition, another 400 hundred or so Cherokee stayed on reserves in Southeast Tennessee, North Georgia, and Northeast Alabama, as citizens of their respective states, mostly mixed-bloods and Cherokee women married to white men. Together, these groups were the basis for what is now known as the Eastern Band of Cherokees.
See main article: Cherokee in the American Civil War.
Out of gratitude to Thomas, these Western North Carolina Cherokees served in the American Civil War as part of what became known as the Thomas Legion of Cherokee Indians and Highlanders. Thomas's Legion consisted of infantry, cavalry, and artillery. The legion mustered approximately 2,000 men of both Cherokee and white origin, fighting on behalf of the Confederacy, primarily in Virginia, where their battle record was outstanding. Thomas's Legion, along with the Western District of North Carolina under Brigadier General John Echols (of which it was the only effective unit) surrendered after capturing Waynesville, North Carolina on May 9, 1865, after learning of Lee's surrender at Appomattox Court House (the decision was made by Brig. Gen. Echols, the senior commander; Thomas wanted to keep fighting). They agreed to cease hostilities on the condition of being allowed to retain their arms for hunting. Brig. Gen. Stand Watie, commanding officer of the First Indian Brigade of the Army of the Trans-Mississippi as well as Principal Chief of the Confederate Cherokee, demobilized his forces under a cease-fire agreement with the Union commander at Fort Towson (which was within in the territory Choctaw Nation) on July 23, 1865.
As in southern states, the end of the Civil War brought freedom to enslaved African Americans. By an 1866 treaty with the US government, the Cherokee agreed to grant tribal citizenship to freedmen who had been held by them as slaves. Both before and after the Civil War, some Cherokee intermarried or had relationships with African Americans, just as they had with whites. Many Cherokee Freedmen were active politically within the tribe.
In Indian Territory, marriage between Cherokees and non-Cherokees was complicated on both sides. A white US man could legally marry a Cherokee woman by petitioning the federal court with approval of ten of her blood relatives.
Once married, the man became a member of the Cherokee tribe but had restricted rights; for instance, he could not hold any tribal office. He also remained a citizen of and under the laws of the United States. Many Cherokee women and white men chose instead simply to live together and call themselves married. This was known as "common law" marriage. After several years of cohabitation (requirements varied), the couple had the legal status of a formally married couple.
If a white woman married a Cherokee man, however, the man was cut off from the tribe and no longer considered a member and citizen of its nation. Such marriages were much less frequent than between Cherokee women and white men.
See main article: Cherokee language.
The Cherokee speak an Iroquoian language which is polysynthetic and is written in a syllabary invented by Sequoyah (ᏍᏏᏆᏱ). For years, many people wrote transliterated Cherokee or used poorly intercompatible fonts to type out the syllabary. However, since the fairly recent addition of the Cherokee syllables to Unicode, the Cherokee language is experiencing a renaissance in its use on the Internet. As of January 2007, however, the Cherokee Nation officially uses a non-unicode font for online documents, including online editions of the Cherokee Phoenix.
The Cherokee language does not contain any "r" based sounds. The word "Cherokee", when spoken in the language, is expressed as Tsa-la-gi (pronounced Jah-la-gee, or Je-la-gee) by native speakers, since these sounds most closely resemble the English language.
A southern Cherokee group did speak a local dialect with a trill consonant "r" sound. This "r" sound spoken in the dialect of the Elati, or Lower, Cherokee area – Georgia and Alabama – became extinct in the 19th century around the time of the Indian removal by the Trail of Tears; examples are Tsaragi or Tse-La-gee. The ancient Ani-kutani (ᎠᏂᎫᏔᏂ) dialect and Oklahoma dialects do not contain any 'r'-based sounds.
Because of the polysynthetic nature of the Cherokee Language, new and descriptive words in Cherokee are easily constructed to reflect or express modern concepts. Some good examples are di-ti-yo-hi-hi (Cherokee:ᏗᏘᏲᎯᎯ) which means "he argues repeatedly and on purpose with a purpose". This is the Cherokee word for attorney. Another example is di-da-ni-yi-s-gi (Cherokee:ᏗᏓᏂᏱᏍᎩ) which means "the final catcher" or "he catches them finally and conclusively". This is the Cherokee word for policeman.
Many words, however, have been borrowed from the English Language, such as gasoline which in Cherokee is ga-so-li-ne (Cherokee:ᎦᏐᎵᏁ). Many other words were borrowed from the languages of tribes who settled in Oklahoma in the early twentieth century. One example relates to a town in Oklahoma named "Nowata". The word nowata is a Delaware Indian word for "welcome" (more precisely the Delaware word is nu-wi-ta which can mean "welcome" or "friend" in the Delaware Language). The white settlers of the area used the name "nowata" for the township, and local Cherokees, being unaware the word had its origins in the Delaware Language, called the town a-ma-di-ka-ni-gv-na-gv-na (Cherokee:ᎠᎹᏗᎧᏂᎬᎾᎬᎾ) which means "the water is all gone from here", i.e. "no water".
Other examples of borrowed words are ka-wi (Cherokee:ᎧᏫ) for coffee and wa-tsi (Cherokee:ᏩᏥ) for watch (which led to u-ta-na wa-tsi (Cherokee:ᎤᏔᎾ ᏩᏥ) or "big watch" for clock).
There are two main dialects in Cherokee spoken by modern speakers: the Giduwa or Kituhwa dialect (Eastern Band) and the Otali Dialect (also called the Overhill dialect) spoken in Oklahoma. The Otali dialect has drifted significantly from Sequoyah's Syllabary in the past 150 years, and many contracted and borrowed words have been adopted into the language. These noun and verb roots in Cherokee, however, can still be mapped to Sequoyah's Syllabary. In modern times, there are more than 85 syllables in use by modern Cherokee speakers. Modern Cherokee speakers who speak Otali employ 122 distinct syllables in Oklahoma.
|1794||Establishment of the Cherokee National Council and officers over the whole nation|
|1808||Establishment of the Cherokee Lighthorse Guard, a national police force|
|1809||Establishment of the National Committee|
|1810||End of separate regional councils and abolition of blood vengeance|
|1820||Establishment of courts in eight districts to handle civil disputes|
|1822||Cherokee Supreme Court established|
|1823||National Committee given power to review acts of the National Council|
|1827||Constitution of the Cherokee Nation East|
|1828||Constitution of the Cherokee Nation West|
|1832||Suspension of elections in the Cherokee Nation East|
|1839||Constitution of the reunited Cherokee Nation|
|1868||Constitution of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians|
|1888||Charter of Incorporation issued by the State of North Carolina to the Eastern Band|
|1950||Constitution and federal charter of the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians|
|1975||Constitution of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma|
|1999||Constitution of the Cherokee Nation drafted|
After being ravaged by smallpox, and pressed by increasingly violent land-hungry settlers, the Cherokee adopted a whiteman's form of government in an effort to retain their lands. They established a governmental system modeled on that of the United States, with an elected principal chief, senate, and house of representatives. On April 10, 1810 the seven Cherokee clans met and began the abolition of blood vengeance by giving the sacred duty to the new Cherokee National government. Clans formally relinquished judicial responsibilities by the 1820s when the Cherokee Supreme Court was established. In 1825, the National Council extended citizenship to the children of Cherokee men married to white women. These ideas were largely incorporated into the 1827 Cherokee constitution. The constitution stated that "No person who is of negro or mulatlo [sic] parentage, either by the father or mother side, shall be eligible to hold any office of profit, honor or trust under this Government," with an exception for, "negroes and descendants of white and Indian men by negro women who may have been set free." This definition to limit rights of multiracial descendants, may have been more widely held among the elite than the general population.
See main article: Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma. During 1898-1906 the federal government dissolved the former Cherokee Nation, to make way for the incorporation of Indian Territory into the new state of Oklahoma. From 1906 to 1975, structure and function of the tribal government were not clearly defined, but in 1975-76 the tribe wrote a constitution as "The Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma", and received federal recognition. In 1999, the CNO changed or added several provisions to its constitution, among them the designation of the tribe to be "Cherokee Nation", dropping "of Oklahoma".
The modern Cherokee Nation, in recent times, has experienced an almost unprecedented expansion in economic growth, equality, and prosperity for its citizens. The Cherokee Nation (often still referred to colloquiolly by the initials CNO), under the leadership of Principal Chief Chad Smith, has significant business, corporate, real estate, and agricultural interests, including numerous highly profitable casino operations. The CNO controls Cherokee Nation Enterprises, Cherokee Nation Industries, and Cherokee Nation Businesses. CNI is a very large defense contractor that creates thousands of jobs in eastern Oklahoma for Cherokee citizens.
The CNO has constructed health clinics throughout Oklahoma, contributed to community development programs, built roads and bridges, constructed learning facilities and universities for its citizens, instilled the practice of Gadugi and self-reliance in its citizens, revitalized language immersion programs for its children and youth, and is a powerful and positive economic and political force in Eastern Oklahoma.
The CNO hosts the Cherokee National Holiday on Labor Day weekend each year, and 80,000 to 90,000 Cherokee Citizens travel to Tahlequah, Oklahoma, for the festivities. It also publishes the Cherokee Phoenix, a tribal newspaper which has operated continuously since 1828, publishing editions in both English and the Sequoyah Syllabary. The Cherokee Nation council appropriates money for historic foundations concerned with the preservation of Cherokee Culture, including the Cherokee Heritage Center which hosts a reproduction of an ancient Cherokee Village, Adams Rural Village (a turn-of-the-century village), Nofire Farms and the Cherokee Family Research Center (genealogy), which is open to the public. The Cherokee Heritage Center is home to the Cherokee National Museum, which has numerous exhibitions also open to the public. The CHC is the repository for the Cherokee Nation as its National Archives. The CHC operates under the Cherokee National Historical Society, Inc., and is governed by a Board of Trustees with an executive committee.
The Cherokee Nation also supports the Cherokee Nation Film Festivals in Tahlequah, Oklahoma and participates in the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah.
See main article: Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. The Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indians in North Carolina led by Chief Michell Hicks hosts over a million visitors a year to cultural attractions of the 100sqmi sovereign nation. This reservation, the "Qualla Boundary" has a population of over 8000 Cherokee consisting primarily of direct descendants of those Indians who managed to avoid “The Trail of Tears”. Attractions include the Oconaluftee Indian Village, Museum of the Cherokee Indian, and the country’s oldest and foremost Native American crafts cooperative. The outdoor drama "Unto These Hills" which debuted in 1950 recently broke record attendance sales. Together with Harrah’s Cherokee Casino and Hotel, Cherokee Indian Hospital and Cherokee Boys Club the tribe put over $78 million dollars into the local economy in 2005.
See main article: United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians. The United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians took a different track than the Cherokee Nation and received federal recognition after the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934 . Members of the United Keetoowah Band are descended from the Old Settlers, Cherokees who moved west before the Removal.
The Cherokee Nation participates in numerous joint programs with the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. It also participates in cultural exchange programs and joint Tribal Council meetings involving councillors from both Cherokee Tribes which address issues affecting all of the Cherokee People. Unlike the adversarial relationship between the administrations of the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians and the Cherokee Nation, the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians interactions with the Cherokee Nation present a unified spirit of Gadugi with the leaders and citizens of the Eastern Band. The United Keetoowah Band tribal council unanimously passed a resolution to approach the Cherokee Nation for a joint council meeting between the two Nations, as a means of "offering the olive branch", in the words of the UKB Council. While a date was set for the meeting between members of the Cherokee Nation Council and UKB representative Chief Smith vetoed the meeting.
See main article: Cherokee Heritage Groups.
Today there are only three groups recognized by the federal government. The tribes have established similar requirements for Cherokee citizenship based on ancestral Indian connections. The Cherokee Nation requires citizens to have at least one Indian ancestor listed on the 19th century Dawes Rolls . The CNO has numerous members who also have African-American, Latino, Asian, white and other ancestry. The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians requires one-sixteenth Cherokee blood quantum (genealogical descent) and an ancestor on the Baker Roll. The United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians requires one-quarter Cherokee blood quantum (equivalent to one grandparent) and accepts descent from ancestors on any roll.
Many groups have sought recognition by the federal government as Cherokee tribes. Cherokee Nation spokesman Mike Miller has suggested that some groups, which he calls Cherokee Heritage Groups, are encouraged. Others, however, are controversial for their attempts to gain economically through their claims to be Cherokee. The three federally recognized groups assert themselves as the only groups having the legal right to present themselves as Cherokee Indian Tribes.
One exception to this may be the Texas Cherokees and Associate Bands (TCAB) who prior to 1975, was considered a part of the Cherokee Nation as reflected in briefs filed before the Indian Claims Commission. In fact at one time W.W. Keeler served not only as Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation, but at the same time held the position as Chairman of the TCAB Executive Committee. Following the adoption of the Cherokee consitition in 1975, TCAB descendants whose ancestors had remained a part of the physical Mount Tabor Community in Rusk County, Texas were excluded from citizenship in that their ancestors did not appear on the Final Rolls of the Five Civilized Tribes. However, most if not all, did have an ancestor listed on the Guion Miller or Old Settler rolls. Another problem for the Mount Tabor Community, was that its members were not all Cherokees. Groups of Yowani Choctaws and McIntosh Party Creeks had joined them in the 1850s, changing the make up of the group.
While most Mount Tabor residents returned to the Cherokee Nation following the death of John Ross in 1866, today there is a sizable group that is well documented but currently is not actively seeking a status clarification. They do have treaty rights going back to the Treaty of Birds Fort, and were associated from the end of the Civil War until 1975 with the Cherokee Nation. The TCAB formed as a political organization in 1871 led by William Penn Adair and Clement Neely Vann. Descendants of the Texas Cherokees and the Mount Tabor Community joined together to try to gain redress from treaty violations, stemming from the Treaty of Bowles Village in 1836. Today, most Mount Tabor descendants are in fact members of the Cherokee Nation. Only some 800 are stuck in limbo without status as Cherokees. Many of them still reside in Rusk and Smith counties of east Texas.
The Councils of the Cherokee Nation and the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians at the Joint Council Meeting held in Catoosa, Oklahoma on April 9, 2008 passed a resolution "Opposing Fabricated Cherokee 'Tribes' and 'Indians'. It denounced state or federal recognition of any "Cherokee" tribes or bands in addition to those already federally recognized. The bands committed themselves assisting state and federal authorities in exposing and ending any group which attempted or claimed to operate as a government of the Cherokee people.
In addition, the resolution asked that no public funding from any federal or state government be expended on behalf of non-federally recognized 'Cherokee' tribes or bands. The Nation would call for a full accounting of all federal monies given to state recognized, unrecognized or 5OI(c)(3) charitable organizations that claimed any Cherokee affiliation. It called for federal and state governments to stringently apply a federal definition of "Indian" that included only citizens of federally recognized Indian tribes, to prevent non-Indians from selling membership in "Cherokee" tribes for the purpose of exploiting the Indian Arts and Crafts Act.
In a controversial segment that could affect Cherokee Baptist churches and charitable organizations, the resolution stated that no 501(c)(3) organization, state-recognized or unrecognized groups shall be acknowledged as Cherokee.
Celebrities who claim to be Cherokee, such as those listed in this article, are also targeted by the resolution.
Any individual who is not a member of a federally recognized Cherokee tribe, in academia or otherwise, is hereby discouraged from claiming to speak as a Cherokee, or on behalf of Cherokee citizens, or using claims of Cherokee heritage to advance his or her career or credentials. – Joint Council of the Cherokee Nation and the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indians.
This declaration was not signed or approved by the federally recognized United Keetoowah Band. The Cherokee Nation acknowledges there are people of Cherokee descent "...in states such as Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, and Texas," who are Cherokee by blood but are not members of the Cherokee Nation. 
See main article: Cherokee Freedmen Controversy.
The Cherokee freedmen, descendants of African American slaves owned by citizens of the Cherokee Nation during the Antebellum Period, were first guaranteed Cherokee citizenship under a treaty with the United States in 1866. This was in the wake of the American Civil War, when the US emancipated slaves and passed US constitutional amendments granting freedmen citizenship in the United States.
In 1988, the federal court in the Freedmen case of Nero v. Cherokee Nation held that Cherokees could decide citizenship requirements and exclude freedmen. On March 7, 2006, the Cherokee Nation Judicial Appeal Tribunal ruled that the Cherokee Freedmen were eligible for Cherokee citizenship. This ruling proved controversial; while the Cherokee Freedman had historically been recorded as "citizens" of the Cherokee Nation at least since 1866 and the later Dawes Commission Land Rolls, the ruling "did not limit membership to people possessing Cherokee blood". This ruling was consistent with the 1975 Constitution of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, in its acceptance of the Cherokee Freedmen on the basis of historical citizenship, rather than documented blood relation.
On March 3, 2007 a Constitutional Amendment was passed by a Cherokee vote limiting citizenship to Cherokees on the Dawes Rolls for those listed as Cherokee by blood, Shawnee and Delaware. The Cherokee Freedmen had 90 days to appeal this amendment vote which disenfranchised them from Cherokee citizenship and file appeal within the Cherokee Nation Tribal Council, which is currently pending in Nash, et al v. Cherokee Nation Registrar. On May 14, 2007, the Cherokee Freedmen were reinstated as citizens of the Cherokee Nation by the Cherokee Nation Tribal Courts through a temporary order and temporary injunction until the court reached its final decision.