Ghost Stories and Tall Tales of the American South

Cherokee Native Americans in Appalachia


History of Cherokee Native American tribes in Appalachia.


According to Cherokee legend, the Great Smoky Mountains were formed centuries ago when a giant buzzard, wearily circling the earth after a great flood, plummeted to the ground in exhaustion. Where his vast wings hit the earth, the mountain valleys appeared.

The Cherokees were intrigued by the bluish mist that crept through this mountainous region in present day Tennessee and North Carolina, which they named “Sha-cona-ge” (Land of the Blue Mist). They were descendants of the Iroquois people who had migrated south from the Great Lakes region and settled in the mountains of Tennessee, North Carolina, Alabama and Georgia. They lived in log “towns” along the riverbanks, each ruled by a supreme chief.  Before the arrival of the white man, the Cherokees were an agrarian people who observed sacred religious practices. They believed that the bluish mist took the form of both good and evil spirits, and that the deep woods were filled with magical creatures.

At one time, the Cherokee Nation encompassed over 135,000 square miles of territory. As more white people settled on their land in the 1700s, the Nation shrank. The Cherokees sided with the British during the American Revolution, then conducted their own raids on frontier settlements and forts, particularly in Tennessee. But they were unable to stop the American forces from taking over their land. After their last major defeat near present-day Rome, Georgia in 1793, the Cherokees entered into a peace treaty with the United States.

In the eyes of white America, the Cherokees were the most advanced and “civilized” of the Indian tribes because they had adopted so much of white culture. They followed the white man’s farming and home building methods, wore European-style dress, and had even developed their own literacy program thanks to the efforts of Sequoyah, a Cherokee who developed and taught a unique syllabary (a system of written characters, or symbols, that represent syllables). Rapid literacy followed, showing that the Cherokees could read and write without the white man’s English.

The Cherokees tried to save their homeland by joining together to form a nation that would stretch across four states. Their capital was called New Echota, and their constitution was patterned after the U.S. Constitution, with three branches of government. This new nation consisted of eight districts, each represented by an elected official in the capital. For the most part, the U.S. government approved of the new Cherokee nation. The state of Georgia, however, did not, claiming that creating a “nation” within state boundaries without the approval of the state’s government was unconstitutional. Georgia lawmakers decided to put an end to the new Cherokee nation, and in 1828 voted to extend state laws and court authority over the Cherokee nation, proclaiming all Cherokee laws “null and void.” Outraged, the Cherokees appealed to Washington for help.

National Historic Trail of Tears National Park Service

But another event that same year would eventually bring an end to the Cherokee nation – the discovery of gold in the north Georgia mountains. Thousands of prospectors flooded into the region, and despite appeals to the U.S. government, the Cherokees were unable to stop them from taking over their land. Ten years later, President Van Buren issued the order to send the Cherokees out West in what would become the infamous “Trail of Tears” Indian removal. The Cherokees in the mountainous regions avoided removal longer than other tribes, but were eventually driven out.

Some Cherokees refused to go, disappearing into the bluish mist and, according to mountain legends, reappearing every once in a while to attack or to survey their land. One popular story is that of Tsali, a Cherokee brave who killed a white soldier, then agreed to give himself up to the authorities in exchange for the promise that his tribe could stay in the mountains. Some of his descendants are said to live in the popular tourist attraction and Cherokee reservation in Cherokee, North Carolina.

Find out more about the Cherokees, and Native Americans in general, by following this link:

Cherokee History Links and Resources – From the North Georgia Resource Center, a comprehensive list of Cherokee links.

Top painting : “Endless Search,” (c)Jerome Bushyhead

Bottom painting: “Trail of Tears,” painted by Robert Lindneux, Woolaroc Museum.

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8 Responses to “Cherokee Native Americans in Appalachia”


Okay Im 15 And I just recently found out my nationality. but i want to know more about it. im not full native american but im a really good percent i was wondering if thier was any way someone could get in contact with me or something so i could find out more of who i am.

Walker Barrett:

I have known all my life I had Cherokee indian blood in me but I did not know how much until we started looking on and we found that i have enough to get help with college being paid for but we don’t know how to start that process. can u help me please? And i have aways been interested in indian stuff and I love anything indian including horse back riding.

Klea roller:

I don’t know how much Cherokee I have in me or a lot about my family history. But I want to know more about who my family is traced back from. The only think I know about my Cherokee past is that my some what great grandfather was the last Cherokee to leave the region.

Richard Easley:

Hi, my name is Richard Easley and I live in beautiful Boone, NC.I don’t like Appalachian Mountain Brewery putting the name of our home on their bottle. I live here in the Appalachia and I don’t want a beer named after my beautiful mountains.The Appalachee were a tribe of Indians   Apalachee. Various forms of the Itsati (Hitchiti,) Apalachicola(Lower Creek) and Koasati word for torch or lamp, apala, are still used today. In these languages, Apalaci (pronounced ?-p?-l?-ch?) means “torch bearers” or “people who bring light.”…its an Indian word. ” Native Americans might file an opposition if: 1) they are the first users of the word in commerce; 2) the trademark is a name used by tribal businesses, organizations or religious groups; 3) the trademark uses the name or insignia of their Nation; 4) it is morally offensive and scandalous to them to have their names listed on a beer can, a pick-up truck or a home heating oil companyThe Federal Trade Commission has already ruled against several companies selling products using Native American tribal names and symbols.”The Appalachian Mountain Brewery misrepresents the product’s place of origin or geographic original.Appalachian Mountain Brewery needs to change their name. Its offensive to native Indians which are already predisposed to alcohol problems. Alcoholic beverages was a genocidal drink that aided in destroying them.Besides, none of the locals like the name. They go to church and spend time with their families. The locals can be proud. They dont like drinking and we have one of the highest drunk driving fatalities around They aren’t fond of some company that isn’t even from around here coping a name from  their  heritage and an stealing the name of an entire mountain range for stupid beer… the locals have lived here all their lives. I have some cherokee in my family tree. .We are for sueing andAppalachian Mountain Brewery!Sincerely,Richard P EasleyPresident of Community Gardening &President of Student Government [email protected] P.S. Furthermore there are a lot of mothers, grandmothers, fathers and grandfathers that are up at arms about  Apalachian State University  fostering a fermentation business in their basement and pandering to AMB (Appalachian Mountain Brewery) brewery business under the guise of a place called the Ivory tower. Our  humble hardworking Appalachian community is offended by this.The brewery tried to put my name on a beer and name a dance after me… they are going to do the same to our children when they are 21. I refuse to sit back and let ASU and their brewery mess with my students like that!The Appalachian Mountains are also part of our children’s lives. It is also our children’s territory. Our children’s mountains and part of our childrens garden!  :)I will write and disclose more views and information in regards to Appalachian States University’s role in our community at a later timeThank you ,Richard

Richard Easley:

“Revolution” by Richard Easley

Keep all my old snakeskins dry and safe for me

Keep them in the rafters near Heaven on high

Revolve them thrice weekly and gently I decree

For one day I will wear them again by and by

Old trees my old friends where will I howl Which way will I go

I’ve been dancing with indian rose and a little dog on that peice of land secretly like nobody knows

though many miles and thorns only changes Peirced my soles

Its not me that is uncomfortable, cant’t grow, or can’t breathe

But rather its these new clothes

strangers & society lawlessly upon little ol’ me imposed

I have to shed more taxing snakeskin from my feet past my chin and again

Swing crazy down like a vine to feel Free

Run with guitar, dance with the savage dogs and do my snakecharm

even up the odds and immortalize

Rest on some Appalachian Indian sod

then only then do I feel like me

Richard Easley:

“Widmer Bros. brews about 2,500 barrels of beer a day at its facility in North Portland. Its parent company, Craft Brew Alliance, announced Tuesday that it intended to form a strategic partnership with a North Carolina brewery. (Lynne Terry Craft Brew Alliance plans ‘strategic partnership’ with N.C.-based Appalachian Mountain Brewery”

So not only does a company from Portland steal an Indian name
” Appalachian”, The Appalachian Mountain Brewery targets a university age group whose minds on average aren’t fully grown or developed until average of age 25 a cording to neurologists.. howeever the greatest problem with breweries are the garden space they hijack and water they poach from communities:

“Widmer Bros. brews about 2,500 barrels of beer a day”..
Hmmnn lemme try to count count 2500 barrels of beer equals 77500 gallons of beer. takes that multiply 5 barrels of water to make one barrel of beer that equals 387500 gallons of water. Then in California it takes another 590 gallons of water to make barley and hops grow to make one gallon of beer so that’s 77,500?590
=45725000… therefore 45725000 +387500= 46112500 gallons of water everysingle day.

Then there’s all the carbon footprints…the diesal the semi trucks the machinery the cooking pot the evaporation the heat etc.
That’s a lot of resources for a luxery item
I propose replace all hops and barely and also tobacco fields with green plant life and trees that will reduce greenhouse effect and global warming thus extending earths lifetime warrenty

Arnetta Michel:

I have a question about my grandmother she died before I was born, the depression era. I’ve heard that she was longing to be around her people again, but an abusive marriage kept her isolated. And unfortunately she hung herself feeling that it was the only way out. I want to honor her, her tradition, I know it’s been such a long time but her heart cried out to once more be with her people ? and I wonder if you could please give me the me of some kind. Thank you.


Was she Cherokee?

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