The history of Cherokee Indians epitomizes rich culture and heritage. Cherokee Indians are the original resident of South East America particularly Georgia, North and South Carolina, Virginia, Kentucky, and Tennessee.
Cherokees were displaced from their ancestral lands in North Georgia and the Carolinas because of rapidly expanding white population, as well as a Gold Rush around Dahlonega.
Coming to their lifestyles, Cherokees lived in houses made of plaster and rivercane walls with thatched roofs. They also built larger seven sided buildings for ceremonial purposes.
Cherokee clothing and hairstyle was interesting. Men usually cut their hair in Mohawk style or shaved it completely except for a single scalplock, and sometimes would also wear a porcupine roach. Women wore their hair long, except during the mourning occasions they kept it short to express their condolences.
Cherokees have the tradition of tribal tattoo art. Men tattooed their faces and bodies extensively and painted themselves with bright colors in times of war, but unlike in other tribes, Cherokee women didn't paint or tattoo themselves. Today infact many youngsters have developed an interest in tattoos, flaunting it especially with their name, a family or clan name, a kinship term, or an animal they feel a connection with.
Cherokee men wore breechcloths with leather pant leggings and the women wore wraparound skirts with poncho style blouses. Both men and women wore moccasins. The style statement though went in a little change when they encountered Europeans and introduced European costume in their style which included long braided or beaded jackets, cotton blouses and full skirts decorated with ribbon applique, feathered turbans, and the calico tear dress.
Wondering how was the transportation in those days? They used to move around in Ferrari. NO, just kidding! Actually, Cherokee Indians made long dugout canoes from hollowed-out logs, which were paddled. There were no horses in North America until colonists brought them over from Europe, so the Cherokees used dogs to help them carry their belongings over land.
What did Cherokees eat when they were hungry? Since supermarkets were not there in those times, so men and women had substantially divided their work. Men hunted turkeys, deers and went for fishing, while women engaged themselves in farming and harvesting crops of corn, beans, squash, and sunflowers. Cherokee dishes included cornbread, soups, and stews cooked on stone hearths.
The Cherokees were known for their pipe carving, rivercane baskets, gourd art, and pottery. After moving to Oklahoma, the Cherokees couldn't get the materials they used for their traditional crafts, so they concentrated more on other crafts such as beadwork and textile arts.
“Osiyo, not getting what I am saying? Well, I am greeting you in the Cherokee’s language. It is a very musical language with an innovative writing system that was invented by the Cherokee scholar Sequoyah. This writing system is a syllabary, which means that each character represents a consonant and a vowel.
Cherokee Indian culture may not be in its full bloom today, but some people are still trying to restore its rich heritage.
Joseph Paige © 2006