Growers Iroquois, the Cherokees were the great Indian nation Southeast United States. They lived in the western Carolinas, northern Georgia and eastern Tennessee.
They believed to be from a large island that was submerged beneath the waves and it seems that their territory is original is located in the Great Lakes region. They call themselves "Tsalagi"
Skilled farmers, they were the culture of the bean, and especially different kinds of corn, pumpkins, squash, sunflower, tobacco and gourds, and that since about the year 1000 BC.
For them, the new year began with the "Green Corn Dance," which is still celebrated today, showing the importance of agriculture to the people. They were also skilled weavers and kept the knowledge of traditional knowledge.
They also hunted deer, elk and bears as well as smaller animals such as raccoons, rabbits, squirrels where they used blowguns.
They also fished with harpoons, nets and traps, and supplemented their diet by gathering fruit and roots.
From the early 17th century, they procured the copper from the Great Lakes region.
The Cherokees used the wampum belts to send messages.
The Cherokees were playing many games, including a ball game called "lacrosse", very popular among the tribes of the southeastern United States ..
Young Cherokees were charmed by their beautiful playing on a flute made by them. Wish they were all gifted in music!
Polygamy was practiced and the unions were made as simple as separations. It should be noted that intermarriage between Cherokees and whites have often practiced from the 18th century. These unions were seen as a way to build alliances and to have easier access to European goods. The children of such unions were considered full Cherokee and many of them managed to leadership positions.
There will also unions between Cherokees and African-American, especially when in the early 19th century will have some Cherokee slaves for their plantations.
Their traditional enemies were the Delawares and the Iroquois League.
The Cherokees were divided into seven matrilineal clans the arrival of whites, eighth (the Keetoowahs) was created. It should also be noted that for the Cherokee numbers four and seven (the four directions, the seven clans) were sacred. Each city (total 200) Cherokee was led by a government "red" and a government "white." In wartime, the government "red" which held the authority, in peacetime, it was the "white". These permanent villages were established along the river that served as a channel of communication and included 30 to 60 houses surrounding a large "council house".
The murders were paying "blood for blood" in the former Cherokee. If a member of a clan was killed by the other clan, the clan of the murdered had the right to life of any member of the clan that owns the murderer.
Religious people, the Cherokee believed in a Great Creator they designated by many names (the Great Spirit, Great be the man from above ...). Returning to the four directions, each of which was the home of a mind placed there by the Creator to be His messenger.
These four directions each had a color and symbolism. The East was associated with the red, the triumph and success, the North Blue, to defeat and adverse events, the Western black and death, the white South, peace and events happy. Three directions were sometimes added: on high (yellow) to bottom (brown) and center (green).
Cultural changes in the 19th century
The most famous Cherokee in history and certainly Sequoyah (1760-1843), who developed the Cherokee writing characters 86 (1821) is still in use today. His fame was such that it gave its name to the famous giant red cedar in California: the Sequoyah.
Under the influence of European settlers and the fear of losing their land, the Cherokees had indeed set to follow the ways of the whites, they had schools, plantations and slaves. They abandoned huts for houses in Europe and their traditional clothing for bound similar to that of the settlers.
All did not follow this path, the Cherokee Nation is divided between "innovative" and "traditionalists". It does also not enough to save their land coveted by speculators, farmers and swindlers of all kinds. Those they were spurred on by the discovery of gold in their territory, they were driven in defiance of justice and despite the opposition of the Congress party in the west of the Mississippi (Oklahoma) in a forced exodus continued in the history as "The Trail of Tears" (1838). Only a minority of Cherokee will escape this deportation, as we shall see.
Forced to live in Oklahoma, the Cherokees 'Western' to rebuilt their society. But again, their land would be coveted by speculators and settlers. In 1887, the Dawes Allotment Act abolished the stroke of a pen in their territory and divided into individual plots among its inhabitants, the surplus land (the best!) Being sold lots to settlers, the great benefit of some, but not Cherokees!
Demographics and Current Status
With the arrival of Europeans, it is estimated the number of Cherokees to over 40000 (1650)
In 1738, there were 20,000 Cherokees, but that year, smallpox killed in half! After several wars and a new outbreak, there were only 9000 in 1783, but by 1800 this figure had risen to nearly 12,000.
The Eastern Cherokee (North Carolina) were approximately 13,000 in 2000. In all, it was estimated in 2000 to 400,000 the number of Cherokees. In the census of that year, 729,533 people identified themselves as Cherokees "totally or ancestry."
The Cherokees are the most attached and is closer to their traditional culture than the West.
There are also groups with no federal recognition that claim as "Cherokee." These groups are:
- The "Northern Cherokee Tribe of Indians of Missouri and Arkansas" who present themselves as descendants of Cherokee "Old Settlers" (emigrants to the west of the Mississippi before the "Trail of Tears";
- The "Northern Cherokee Nation of the Old Louisiana Territory," which claims the same origin as above;
- The "Texas Cherokee", which present themselves as the descendants of Cherokees who took refuge in the forests of East Texas after the war between them and the Independent Republic of Texas in 1839;
- The Cherokees of Georgia, recognized as such by the state of the same name, but not by the federal government;
- The "Georgia Tribe of Eastern Cherokee," also recognized by the state of the same name;
- The "Tallige Cherokee Nation" (Ohio) who claims to be made up of descendants of Cherokees who managed to escape convoy taking them to the West at the time of the "Trail of Tears." Unrecognized federal ment, they were however by the state of Ohio;
- The "Southeast Kituwah Nation" of Georgia;
- The "Cherokee Indians of Georgia". They are recognized as such by the state the same name, but not federal recognition for which they have been fighting since 1977. They present themselves as the descendants of Cherokees who had escaped the forced exodus;
- The "Tennessee River Band of Cherokees Chickamaugan", whose membership is kept secret (!) And would have members widely scattered across the United States.
- The "Sovereign Cherokee Tribe of Amonsoquath" it, is defined as descendants of Powhatan Indians who had accompanied or preceded by the Cherokees to the West. Established in Missouri, this group is seeking federal recognition;
- Another group, made up of people of Cherokee ancestry and culture was formed in California and the West Coast. Not affiliated with other groups, it does not seek any recognition, but is as a non-profit association. It is rooted in communities Cherokees who left Oklahoma in search of better life during the "Dust Bowl" of the 1930s (see "The Grapes of Wrath," Steinbeck and John Ford's film (same title, 1940 )
It is not for us here to argue about the veracity of these affiliations. Some of these groups have strong historical and cultural arguments to defend their Cherokee roots. Whether they can trace the thread of their tribal history without it being interrupted and a different story.
The Cherokee language is now spoken and read by over 15,000 members of the tribe, both in the west that