Cherokee


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Cherokee

(chĕr`əkē), largest Native American group in the United States. Formerly the largest and most important tribe in the Southeast, they occupied mountain areas of North and South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, and Tennessee. The Cherokee language belongs to the Iroquoian branch of the Hokan-Siouan linguistic stock (see Native American languagesNative American languages,
languages of the native peoples of the Western Hemisphere and their descendants. A number of the Native American languages that were spoken at the time of the European arrival in the New World in the late 15th cent.
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).

By the 16th cent., the Cherokee had a settled, advanced culture based on agriculture. Hernando De SotoDe Soto, Hernando
, c.1500–1542, Spanish explorer. After serving under Pedro Arias de Ávila in Central America and under Francisco Pizarro in Peru, the dashing young conquistador was made governor of Cuba by Emperor Charles V, with the right to conquer Florida
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 visited them in 1540. They were frequently at war with the Iroquois tribes of New York but proved generally valuable allies for the British against the French. Soon after 1750, smallpox destroyed almost half the tribe. Formerly friendly with Carolina settlers, they were provoked into war with the colonists in 1760, and two years followed before the Cherokee sued for peace.

In 1820 they adopted a republican form of government, and in 1827 they established themselves as the Cherokee Nation, with their capital at New Echota, in N Georgia, under a constitution providing for an elective principal chief, a senate, and a house of representatives. Literacy was aided by the invention of a Cherokee syllabic alphabet by SequoyahSequoyah
, c.1766–1843, Native North American leader, creator of the Cherokee syllabary, b. Loudon co., Tenn. Although many historians believe that he was the son of a Cherokee woman and a white trader named Nathaniel Gist, his descendants dispute this claim.
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. Its 85 characters, representing the syllables of the Cherokee language, permitted the keeping of tribal records and, later, the publication of newspapers.

The 1830s discovery of gold in Cherokee territory resulted in pressure by whites to obtain their lands. A treaty was extracted from a small part of the tribe, binding the whole people to move beyond the Mississippi River within three years. Although the Cherokee overwhelmingly repudiated this document and the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the nation's autonomy, the state of Georgia secured an order for their removal, which was accomplished by military force. President Andrew Jackson refused to intervene, and in 1838 the tribe was deported to the Indian TerritoryIndian Territory,
in U.S. history, name applied to the country set aside for Native Americans by the Indian Intercourse Act (1834). In the 1820s, the federal government began moving the Five Civilized Tribes (Cherokee, Creek, Seminole, Choctaw, and Chickasaw) of the Southeast to
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 (now in Oklahoma). Thousands died on the march, known as the "Trail of Tears," or from subsequent hardships. Their leader at this time and until 1866 was Chief John RossRoss, John,
whose name in Cherokee is Kooweskoowe
, 1790–1866, Native American chief, b. near Lookout Mt., Tenn., of Scottish and Cherokee parents. He was educated at Kingston, Tenn., and in the War of 1812 served under Andrew Jackson against the Creeks.
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.

The Cherokee made their new capital at Tahlequah (Okla.), instituted a public school system, published newspapers, and were the most important of the Five Civilized TribesFive Civilized Tribes,
inclusive term used since mid-19th cent. for the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek, and Seminole tribes of E Oklahoma. By 1850 some 60,000 members of these tribes were settled in the Indian Territory under the Removal Act of 1830, which provided that
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. In the U.S. Civil War their allegiance was divided between North and South, with large contingents serving on each side. By a new treaty at the close of the war they freed their black slaves and admitted them to tribal citizenship, but in 2007 the Cherokee voted to strip the descendants of those slaves of their citizenship; the change took effect in 2011 after it was upheld by the tribal supreme court.

In 1891 the Cherokee sold their western territorial extension, known as the Cherokee StripCherokee Strip
or Cherokee Outlet,
a narrow piece of land in N Oklahoma. Bounded on the north by the Kansas border, it has an area of more than 6 million acres (2.4 million hectares).
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; in 1902 they approved the division of the reservation into allotments; and in 1906 tribal sovereignty was abolished. Tribal entities still exist, however, and many Oklahoma Cherokee live on tribal landholdings. With a 1990 population of about 370,000, the Cherokee, while scattered, are by far the largest Native American group in the United States. Close to 6,000, the descendants of the few who successfully resisted removal or returned after the removal, live on the Eastern Cherokee (Qualla) reservation in W North Carolina.

Bibliography

See M. L. Starkey, The Cherokee Nation (1946, repr. 1972); H. T. Malone, Cherokees of the Old South (1956); J. Gulick, Cherokees at the Crossroads (1960); D. H. Corkran, The Cherokee Frontier: Conflict and Survival, 1740–1762 (1962); G. S. Woodward, The Cherokee (1963); I. Peithmann, Red Men of Fire (1964); T. Wilkins, Cherokee Tragedy (1970); J. Ehle, Trail of Tears (1988); L. B. Filler, The Removal of the Cherokee Nation (1988).


Cherokee,

language belonging to the Iroquoian branch of the Hokan-Siouan linguistic family. See Native American languagesNative American languages,
languages of the native peoples of the Western Hemisphere and their descendants. A number of the Native American languages that were spoken at the time of the European arrival in the New World in the late 15th cent.
..... Click the link for more information.
.

Cherokee

 

an Iroquois-speaking North American Indian tribe.

When the Europeans came to the New World, the Cherokee inhabited southeastern North America. They practiced hoe farming, and social classes were emerging among them. In the 18th century the Cherokee adopted the economic practices of the European settlers: they planted new crops, grew fruit, and raised livestock; they dealt in deerskins and introduced self-government along European lines. In the early 19th century Sequoyah, a mixed-blood, invented a Cherokee alphabet, in which the people received their instruction, a newspaper was published, and Cherokee folklore was recorded.

In 1838 and 1839 the lands of the Cherokee were seized and the tribe forcibly resettled in the west, in Oklahoma. Some hid in the Allegheny Mountains, where in 1842 a reservation was created for them in North Carolina; as a result, there emerged the two groups of Cherokee that exist today: the Eastern and Western Cherokee. The latter are more assimilated, have a more clearly delineated class system, and take an active part in the American Indian movement. According to the 1970 census the Cherokee number more than 66,000, of whom approximately 3,500 live in North Carolina.

IU. P. AVERKIEVA

Cherokee

1. a member of a North American Indian people formerly living in and around the Appalachian Mountains, now chiefly in Oklahoma; one of the Iroquois peoples
2. the language of this people, belonging to the Iroquoian family
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