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South Carolina – Indians, Native Americans – Cherokee

South Carolina SC Native Americans SC Indian Tribes SC Cherokee Indians

Name, Language

  • Alternate spellings: Ani'-Yun'wiya, Tsalagia, Keetoowah
  • Possible meanings: "people of a different speech" or "the principle people"
  • Language family: Iroquoian

Current Status

  • Active - The Eastern Band in North Carolina and the Cherokee Nation in Oklahoma are officially recognized by the United States Government. Eastern Cherokee, Southern Iroquios, and United Tribes of South Carolina were recognized in 2005 as a group by the state of South Carolina. Currently active in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Texas.

Contact Information

  • Cherokee Bear Clan - chartered by the state of South Carolina on June 29, 2006 and are working to be recognized as a Tribe
    Post Office Box 1014
    Walhalla, SC 29691

  • Eastern Cherokee, Southern Iroquios, and United Tribes of South Carolina
    Post Office Box 7062
    Columbia, SC 29202
    Phone: 803-699-0446
    Email: taygoinres@aol.com

  • Piedmont American Indian Association - Lower Eastern Cherokee Nation SC
    3688 Warrior Creek Church Road
    Grey Court, SC 29645
    Phone: 864-683-1421
    Email: gvnorris@charter.net

SC Location, Territory

Related SC Names

Population Estimates

  • 1674: 50,000
  • 1990: 308,000


  • 4,000 years ago, ancestors of The Cherokee migrated from the American southwest to the Great Lakes region. After wars with the Delaware and Iroquois tribes of that area, the Cherokee made a permanent home in the Smoky Mountains of North Carolina and in South Carolina's foothills.

  • First contact with white traders working in the Appalachian Mountains was made in the 1600s. The Cherokee traded deerskins for hammers, saws, other metal tools, glass, cloth, and firearms.

  • The Cherokee fought 1689-1763 in the French and Indian Wars because of their alliances with the British.

  • In 1821, Sequoyah, a Cherokee warrior and silversmith, introduced a written Cherokee language. Thousands of Cherokee become literate.

  • The first Cherokee Constitution was adopted in 1827.

  • The US Congress passed the Indian Removal Act in 1830. This law forced the Cherokee and all other American Indian tribes to trade their ancestral lands for land in present-day Oklahoma.

  • The Treaty of New Echota was signed in 1835 by a small faction of Cherokees who favored relocation.

  • Many thousands of Cherokee refused to abandon their homes and were forced to leave on foot by the US Army. This march, known as the Trail of Tears, took three to five months during 1838. It was estimated that 13,000 Cherokee started this journey and that at least one-fourth died of hunger and exhaustion. Approximately 1,000 Cherokee escaped the Trail of Tears by hiding and were eventually granted land in western North Carolina. They are now known as the Eastern Band of Cherokees.

  • Today the Cherokee are presently the largest tribe of Native Americans in the United States. They boast large and prosperous reservations in Oklahoma and North Carolina, and there are smaller groups of Cherokee in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, South Carolina, and Texas.


  • Men – Loin cloth made of deerskin in summer; leggings, shirts and robes were added in winter. Men commonly decorated their bodies and faces with tattoos or paint.
  • Women – Dresses made of deerskin with long, fringed petticoats underneath. Women rubbed their hair with bear grease and decorated it with red or yellow dust.


  • Homes – Walls were built by weaving saplings (small trees) between large posts and then covering them with mud. This technique was called wattle (weaving the saplings) and daub (covering the frame with mud). Roofs were made of woven saplings covered with bark shingles.
  • Villages – Contained a council house large enough to seat the 400 to 500 villagers, 30 to 60 homes, and a plaza or town square. The village was usually surrounded by a wall constructed of tall poles tied together.


  • Farming – Corn, beans, squash, sunflowers, melons, and other crops
  • Fishing –
  • Hunting – Bear, deer, and other wild game

  • Cherokee Foodways in South Carolina - learn about what the Cherokee have eaten throughout their history

Beliefs and Practices

  • The Cherokee's primary deity, the creator, was called Yo wah or Ye ho waah.
  • The Cherokee associated order with good and chaos with evil.
  • The Cherokee held several large seasonal festivals, including the Busk or Green Corn Ceremony. This was a celebration of renewal held in late summer when the corn crop ripened. It was common among other southeastern tribes as well.
  • Villages had two chiefs: a "white" chief who lead in times of peace and a "red" chief who lead in times of war.
  • Though men were priests and chiefs, women played an important role in village politics and even participated in councils.
  • How Cherokee viewed the Universe

Related Cherokee Indian Resources


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