What Are Some Facts About the Cherokee Indians?

Before Europeans discovered America, the Cherokee Indians migrated from the Great Lakes region to the southeastern portion of the country, settling in Georgia and the Carolinas primarily. They lived in log cabins, and after becoming acquainted with European settlers, eventually adopted some of their customs.

Though friendly with the European settlers, the Cherokee tribe sided with the British during the American Revolution, even participating in a few attacks against the colonists.

After gold was discovered on Cherokee lands in the 1830s, the Indian Removal Act was passed. Many fled to North Carolina or the Appalachian Mountains to avoid being forcefully relocated. In violation of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling, President Andrew Jackson ordered those that remained to be taken into custody and placed in an internment camp in preparation for this "Indian removal." Many died in the internment camp.

Those that survived were forced to march 1,000 miles to Oklahoma, an event that became known as the Trail of Tears. Thousands of people died during this arduous journey; others succumbed to illness and injuries sustained on this march once they arrived in their new lands.

The Cherokee quickly rebuilt their community, which eventually grew to include newspapers, schools and churches. Today, more Cherokees live in Oklahoma than any other state, and their communities are federally protected.