The Cherokee Nation has had a long and complex relationship with the southeastern United States, particularly in South Carolina. For centuries, the Cherokee people have been hunters and gatherers, relying on their culture, spirituality, and medicine to sustain them. However, successive treaties with the British Crown and the United States drastically reduced their original territory, leaving them with only 57,000 acres of land in western North Carolina by 1817. This area is now known as the Qualla Boundary. In 1830, President Andrew Jackson signed the Indian Expulsion Act, which initiated the government-ordered transfer of Eastern Indian tribes west of the Mississippi River across the Trail of Tears. This forced many Cherokees to leave their ancestral lands in the Appalachian Mountains and move to what is now Oklahoma.
In the late 19th century, the United States embarked on a national policy of tribal land allocation, under which lands on collectively-owned tribal reservations were divided into parcels and distributed separately among individual tribal citizens. Unlike traditional Native American reservations in the United States, the Qualla Boundary is privately owned by the communities that occupy it and is not a government obligation. This gave the Cherokees of North Carolina an opportunity to re-establish their cultures and communities following their expulsion from their ancestral lands. However, this transition was not without significant difficulties. Today, most of the Cherokees living in North Carolina live within this expanse of land they were able to occupy. The Cherokee Indian Museum in Cherokee, North Carolina is open to visitors and its mission is to “preserve and perpetuate the history, culture and stories of the Cherokee people”.
It offers families a unique and fun way to experience the history of the Cherokee people and their beautiful stories. The Cherokee Nation has had a profound impact on Indian land in South Carolina. Through successive treaties with both Britain and America, they have been forced to give up much of their original territory. The Qualla Boundary has given them an opportunity to re-establish their culture and community following their expulsion from their ancestral lands. Despite significant difficulties, most Cherokees living in North Carolina today are able to live within this expanse of land. The Cherokee Nation's influence on Indian land in South Carolina has been far-reaching.
From treaties that drastically reduced their original territory to government-ordered transfers across the Trail of Tears, they have had to make many sacrifices for their people. The Qualla Boundary has provided them with an opportunity to reclaim some of what was lost and rebuild their culture and community. The Cherokee Indian Museum is a testament to this effort, offering visitors a unique way to experience the history of the Cherokee people. The impact of the Cherokee Nation on Indian land in South Carolina is undeniable. Despite centuries of struggle and displacement, they have managed to preserve their culture and reclaim some of what was lost.
Their story is one of resilience and strength that will continue to inspire generations to come.