From a 1911 Encyclopedia
A Explanation of "Cherokee"
|CHEROKEE (native Tsalagi, cave people), a tribe
of North American Indians of Iroquoian stock. Next to the Navaho they
are the largest tribe in the United States and live mostly in Oklahoma
(formerly Indian territory). Before their removal they possessed a large
tract of country now distributed among the states of Alabama, Georgia,
Mississippi, Tennessee and the west of Florida. Their chief divisions
were then. settled around the head-waters of the Savannah and Tennessee
rivers, and were distinguished as the Elati Tsalagi or Lower Cherokees,
i.e. those in the plains, and Atali Tsalagi or Upper Cherokees, i.e.
those on the mountains. They were further divided into seven exogamous
clans. Fernando de Soto traveled through their country in 1540, and
during the next three centuries they were important factors in the
history of the south. They attached themselves to the English in the
disputes and contests which arose between the European colonizers,
formally recognized the English king in. 1730, and in 1755 ceded a part
of their territory and permitted the erection of English forts.
Unfortunately this amity was interrupted not long after; but peace was
again restored in 1761. When the revolutionary war broke out they sided
with the royalist party. This led to their subjugation by the new
republic, and they had to surrender that part of their lands which lay
to the south of the Savannah and east of the Chattahoochee. Peace was
made in 1781, and in 1785 they recognized the supremacy of the United
States and were confirmed in their possessions. In 1820 they adopted a
civilized form of government, and in 1827, as a Nation, a formal
constitution. The gradual advance of white immigration soon led to
disputes with the settlers, who desired their removal, and exodus after
exodus took place; a small part of the tribe agreed (1835) to remove to
another district, but the main body remained. An appeal was made by them
to the United States government; but President Andrew Jackson refused to
interfere. A force of 2000 men, under the command of General Winfield
Scott, was sent in 1838, and the Cherokees were compelled to emigrate to
their present position.. After the settlement various disagreements
between the eastern and western Cherokees continued for some time, but
in 1839 a union was effected. In the Civil War they all at first sided
with the South; but before long a strong party joined the North, and
this led to a disastrous internecine struggle. On the close of the
contest they were confirmed in the possession of their territory, but
were forced to give a portion of their lands to their emancipated
slaves. Their later history is mainly a story of hopeless struggle to
maintain their tribal independence against the white man. In 1892 they
sold their western territory known as the Cherokee outlet. Until 1906,
when tribal government virtually ceased, the nation had an elected
chief, a senate and house of representatives. Many of them have become
Christians, schools have been established and there is a tribal press.
Those in Oklahoma still number some 26,000, though most are of mixed
blood. A group, known as the Eastern Band, some 1400 strong, are on a
reservation in North Carolina. Their language consists of two dialects a
third, that of the Lower branch, having been lost. The syllabic alphabet
invented in 1821 by George Guess (Sequoyah) is the character employed.
See also Handbook of American Indians (Washington, 1907);
T. V. Parker, Cherokee Indians (N. Y., 1909); and INDIANS, NORTH AMERICAN.
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