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How the Cherokee tribe began

Q: I am doing a report on the Cherokee tribe. I found your site very helpful but I have a few other questions. When was the tribe founded? Who were its first leaders?

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A: This is a difficult question to answer. American Indians have been in North America since prehistoric times. Just as we don't know exactly what year cavemen arrived in Europe, we do not know exactly what year American Indian ancestors arrived in North America. Scientists who study ancient human beings (anthropologists and archaeologists) say that the fossil evidence goes back at least 12,000 years. Cherokee oral tradition says that the Cherokee people have always been here. Everyone agrees that it was an extremely long time ago. So nobody knows who the first Cherokee leaders were, or what year the first Cherokee was born.

However, the Cherokees first petitioned the United States for recognition as a nation in 1827. Of course, the tribe existed before that and had even made treaties with the Americans before that, but 1827 was the first time they received legal status. Perhaps that is what you are asking? The first Cherokee chief recognized by the US as an official leader was John Ross. He was also the leader who accompanied the Cherokee tribe on their forced migration to Oklahoma, where they have lived ever since. Here's a website about John Ross and his wife Quati: http://www.indigenouspeople.net/johnross.htm

Hope that helps!
Native Languages of the Americas

Related Links

 Cherokee home
 Speak the Cherokee language
 Cherokee history
 Cherokee name



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