The Cherokee lived in small villages of about 400 to 500 people, in 30 to 60 homes, indicating the existence of an extended family structure consisting of multiple generations under one roof. The villages often contained a main square or plaza and a large council house that accommodated all residents of the village for meetings and important ceremonies. The people farmed, hunted and fished for subsistence.
The families of most tribes maintained two homes, summer and winter residences, in different summer and winter villages. Winter homes were round, mud and wood thatched dwellings with bark roofs and fireplaces or stoves in the center for food preparation and warmth. In some areas, they lived in log cabins. Residences often featured baskets, colorful rugs and decorations, hides and drawings on the walls. Summer homes tended to be larger, rectangular airy homes made from sticks and long grass with thatched roofs that allowed light and breezes to enter.
Men hunted and fished. A man who married moved in with the wife’s family or built a home for the couple. Women planted seeds and farmed, prepared food and raised children. Men and women regarded each other as equals in Cherokee society. Women owned the family homes and controlled the family. They also participated in government and fought as warriors.
The Cherokee were deeply spiritual and religious people. They worshipped many gods and frequently joined other neighboring villages for religious celebrations. After white populations began spreading onto their lands, the Cherokee adopted many white customs and styles of dress in efforts to assimilate into white culture.