Discover Eastern Cherokee History
Most published history regarding the Cherokee people begins around 1700 and continues through the 1838 Removal and the Trail of Tears. After writing about this time period, many historians divert their studies to the West.
The above scene is a composite photo taken in Cowee Valley with a Cherokee cabin, field, corn house and summer house added. The Cherokee family is being taken away by the U.S. Army in 1838.
This website is focused on the history of the Cherokees who remained in the mountains of western North Carolina from 1776 up until the recognition of the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indians by the United States Congress in 1866.
Numerous records, including those that document testimonies, affidavits, claims, spoliation, settlements, and surveys, help us better understand the ethnogenesis of the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indians and the Qualla Boundary. This website reflects the research that has been conducted and will be updated as further research is completed.
Left is a detail from a Google Earth map with Cherokee towns along the Tuckasegee River near Cherokee, NC. The red-yellow lines are old trails.
At right is the plat of the Yellow Bear Reserve of 640 acres at Burningtown Creek and the Little Tennessee River. Yellow Bear became an American citizen per the Treaty of 1819 and surveyed by Armstrong. Yellow Bears land was taken away by the State of North Carolina.
Click here to read more about the archival project.
Take a Historic Cherokee Tour
Discover the legends and reality of the historic trails and towns through interactive maps & videos on your browser.
Attractions and Activities
See everything Cherokee has to offer and learn about the story it has to tell, from the past to the present. What will you discover?
Over a thousand miles of Cherokee trails have been mapped across the region in and adjacent to western North Carolina. The trails emerged amidst a landscape of obstacles and destinations, following corridors that combined efficiency with the path of least resistance. Geological features were of particular importance. The trails have evolved over thousands of years of change. Today, it is not uncommon to find abandoned Cherokee or pioneer roads that are ten to fifteen feet deep. There are hundreds of remnants and many miles of preserved trails in the backwoods of southern Appalachia. These historical corridors and trail remnants are being identified, mapped, and recorded so that Cherokee geography can be preserved and take its place in the heritage of all Americans.