The Cherokee Tribe lived in the Eastern and Southeastern portion of North America. They had their first contact with whites when De Soto came through their homeland on his way to discover Mississippi. The behavior of the Spaniards did not overly impress the Cherokee Tribe. History tells us that the Cherokees wanted nothing to do with De Soto and the Spaniards.
The Cherokee Tribes first experience with the English involved trading of goods. The English seemed very friendly and in a hurry to make friends with the Cherokee Tribe. This prompted the Cherokees to become pro-British while they remained hostile to the Spaniards and the French. During the wars between the British, French and Spaniards, warriors from the Cherokee Tribe aided the British and offered signal services and fresh troops.
With time, the colonists expanded further into the South and the Cherokee Tribe was mistreated by them. The Cherokees were a peaceful people and tried to be patient with the colonists. However, a group can only be pushed so far. Being friendly with the British, the Cherokee Tribe was confused when the colonists began to revolt against the Britain. Many British sympathizers took advantage of these feelings and began to turn the Cherokees against the colonists.
The Cherokees were and are an intelligent people. Historical Cherokees owned farms, livestock, had their own alphabet and newspaper, produced wool and cotton, manufactured blankets and managed their own affairs. Some Cherokees were more intelligent and better educated than the colonists who were moving into their homelands.
Despite the Cherokees attempts to maintain their land, petitions were made to the government by the whites. The whites wanted the Cherokees removed. In 1838-39 the United States rounded up the Cherokees and marched them west. This is known as the Trail of Tears.
Joseph Paige © 2006