There are a number of possibilities of the meaning and origin of the word "Cherokee," and there is no certainty as to the original meaning even among Cherokee people. One theory is that the word derives from the Cherokee name for fire, giving the meaning "people of the fire."
There are several other interpretations of the word. The Cherokee people refer to themselves as "aniyvwiya," which translates as "Real People." Other possibilities include the name being conferred by other Native American tribes, there being a wide collection of names for the Cherokee people.
The present-day Cherokee Nation, made up of three federally-recognized tribes, inhabits a 7,000 square mile area of Northeastern Oklahoma.