Prior to the arrival of Europeans, the Cherokee lndians lived throughout what would later be known as the southeastern United States in Tennessee, Kentucky, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia. When DeSoto arrived in 1540, the Cherokee occupied 135,000 square miles of territory.
At the time European explorers arrived, they found Cherokee living in homes framed with logs and covered in grass and mud along with thatch or bark roofs.
Between 1785 and 1835, the Cherokee lost a great deal of their land. Twice the Cherokee lost large tracts of land after taking sides in war. The first time they fought alongside the French against the British in the French and Indian War of 1754, and the second time they fought alongside the British against the U.S. in the Revolutionary War.
One of the biggest losses of Cherokee land occurred following the 1835 treaty of New Echota resulted in the United States government taking all land east of the Mississippi.
In 1838, the U.S. Army forced the Cherokee to move from the Southeast to Oklahoma. More than 4,000 Cherokee died during the march along what became known as the Trail of Tears.
As of 2014, the Cherokee own roughly 56,500 acres of land spread over five counties in Oklahoma.