The Europeans were the first who discovered the Cherokee people during the expedition lead by Hernando De Soto in 1539-1543. The Cherokee territory in those days stretched over areas that we now know as Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky, the Carolinas and the Virginias. Interestingly, Cherokees still very much exist in the present days, as they are the second-largest "recognized tribe" in the United States.
These Native Indians were dependant on agriculture as they lived on corn, beans and squash. They also hunted and garnered wild plants. Bows and arrows were used in hunting whereas tomahawks and spears were used in wars.
The Cherokee people used Tomahawks for chopping trees or cutting wood. In addition they made utensils, pottery with clay for holding water, mortars and pestle to grind corn, knives from stone, baskets by weaving grasses together etc. These people used nets for catching fish. Moreover, they made canoes for transportation purpose.
These people built shelters called “Asi”. In fact they built small round houses, low to the ground in winter to keep themselves warm. While in summers they build longhouses and some even build a fence around their homes to enemies at bay.
They commonly spoke the native Cherokee language. Most of their craftwork like gourd art, pottery, rivercane baskets and pipe carving are worth mentioning. The Cherokee people also took to numerous social and religious dances and performed them in different ceremonies. Anesta, a stickball game was the most regular game whereas Lacrosse was the most popular game amongst all.
Cherokees did not indulge in long headdresses like the Sioux as the men wore breechcloths and leather pant legs while the women wore wraparound skirts with poncho-style blouses. The men tattooed and painted their faces and bodies and cut their hair in the Mohawk fashion or shaved it entirely. The women on the other hand had long hair but neither tattooed or colored their faces or bodies. But they commonly wore moccasins on their feet.
Unlike any other tribe, Cherokee culture emphasized womanpower as they dominated their homes, took part in government and fought as warriors. The men build canoes as well as homes and also hunted. They went into battles as warriors and also played an active role in politics.
But somehow the Cherokee culture underwent a drastic change under the influence of the white culture of the Native Americans. The Cherokee people exist in today's world with all their vibrant culture around Oklahoma, North Carolina, Arkansas, Missouri, Alabama and Georgia.
Joseph Paige © 2006