CHEROKEE INDIAN RESERVATION
Eastern Band of the Cherokee
The Cherokee Indian Reservation is home to the Eastern Band
of the Cherokee. It is located in the Great Smoky Mountains of Western North
Carolina and has been a part of the Cherokee's homeland for thousands of years.
Today, Cherokee is the center of the tirbe's history and culture and they
welcome worldwide visitors to their homeland with activities and experiences
for all ages.
According to legend the birthplace of the Cherokee was a
place called Kitawah, a beautiful valley on the banks of the Tuckaseigee River.
Today, Kitawah is part of the Cherokee Indian lands in Swain County, near
Bryson City. In the 2000 years following Kitawah the Cherokee Nation grew into
a mighty empire with an advanced civilization that may have numbered over
25,000 people, and covered over 40,000 square miles of territory. The Cherokee
Nation included lands in North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia,
Alabama, Virginia and West Virginia.
In the 200 years following the arrival of DeSoto, the
Cherokee's numbers declined dramatically as a result of slaughter, warfare and
disease. Their lands were attractive to the white settlers, and President
Andrew Jackson ordered them forcibly removed to Oklahoma. Along the sand and
tragic "Trail of Tears" more than 4000 Cherokee died. A few hundred of the
Cherokee were spared the removal and remained on their homelands in the Smoky
Mountains by hiding and eluding the forces of President Jackson. A native of
the region, William H. Thomas, was a friend to the members of the tribe who
remained. He purchased land and gave to the Cherokee. Later, the United States
Congress funded the purchase of the entire tract of land that became The
Cherokee Indian Reservation. The descendents of the Cherokee who remained on
their homeland in the Smoky Mountains now make up the Eastern Band and live on
the Cherokee Indian Reservation in Swain County, North Carolina.
Today, Cherokee offers attractions for visitors including
The Cherokee Indian Village, The Museum of The Cherokee Indian, the outdoor
drama Unto These Hills, and a variety of modern accommodations, restaurants and
craft shops. More recently, the Cherokee have added Harrah's Cherokee Casino
and it has become another magnet for tourism to the Reservation, and is a
wonderful base of financial security for the tribe and the surrounding
Cherokee is about 15 minutes east of Bryson City, N.C. and
about 30 minutes east of the Nantahala River Gorge.