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Cherokee Tribe

The Cherokee are a large group of Native Americans who come from Iroquoian origin. Many Cherokee prefer to be called Keetoowah or Tsalagi.

The name Cherokee means “people of a different speech.”


The word “Cherokee” comes from the language, Muscogee, which is also known as Creek and is spoken by the Seminole people of Florida.

The Seminole people named the Cherokee “people of a different speech”.

By 1650, the Cherokee lived on a land that stretched for 100,000 square kilometres. That is an area the size of the country Iceland.

Indians Northwest Of South Carolina Map

It is bigger than Portugal and is half the size of the Untied Kingdom. They lived in the Appalachian mountains and in sections of modern-day Georgia, Tennessee and North and South Carolina.

Great Smoky Mountains View

Related: United States facts

Red and White towns: war and peace

The Cherokee organised their towns around colour. The colour red meant war and the colour white meant peace. If the town was a red (war) town, the leader had to be peaceful.

The red towns had peace chiefs. Meanwhile, in the white (peace) towns, they had ‘red’ war leaders.

Cherokee Chief Tahchee

Cherokee life in the 16th Century

The Cherokee planted lots of different crops in the ground that we still plant and eat today, like maize (corn), beans and squash. They hunted deer and bears.

They would eat the deer and bear meat and use the skins and furs to make clothing.

It is a myth that all Native Americans live in tepees/wigwams like we might see in traditional films about ‘Cowboys’ and ‘Indians’.


The Cherokee at this time lived in log cabins and used bark for the roof. These cabins had no windows and one door, with a hole in the roof for smoke.

In general, a Cherokee town would have around 30 or 60 of these houses. Then there was a big house, or a main house, where meetings were held.

In this house, important council decisions were made and sacred fires were burned.

Kitchen Living Quarters Chief Vann House


The British, French and Spanish all tried to take over Cherokee land. In the 1700s, the Cherokee had mostly allied (joined) with the British and fought wars alongside them, as well as trading with them.

In the French and Indian War (1754-63), they were on the British side.

Map Of The French And Indian War

However, the British turned against the Cherokee. They carried out the ‘scorched earth policy’, which meant that they burnt the land, even of their Cherokee allies.

The Cherokee peoples really suffered after this traitorous act of war.

 Battle Of Carillon

In 1773, the Cherokee and the Creek had to swap some of the land to pay off their debts. They lost two million acres. This was in the Treaty of Augusta.

Which European discovered the Cherokee?

In May 1540, a Spanish man called Hernando de Soto went through Cherokee land and made first European contact with the Cherokee people.

Engraving Of Hernando De Soto

Quiz Time


Map Of Southern United States During The Time Of The Indian Removals

What does Cherokee mean?

How big was Cherokee land?

Which colour chief would be in charge of a white peace town?


What was a Cherokee house made from?

Which European discovered the Cherokee?

Native Americans


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