Cherokee Fires

The traditional homelands of the Cherokee Nation are in what is now the southeastern United States, particularly the mountainous regions of Tennessee, Georgia, Kentucky, the Carolinas, Alabama, and the Virginias. Cherokee oral traditions include origin accounts that place the birthplace of the People in the southern Appalachians, although there are some stories that point to a northern origin of the Cherokees--who, in these accounts, were driven southward by their Iroquois kin--or for a Mesoamerican or South American origin, in which the Cherokees originated on a now-lost island or penninsula.

Whatever the birthplace of the Nation, today's Cherokees generally consider the Southeast to be the crucible of Cherokee culture. Today, in addition to many non-citizen Cherokees throughout the world, there are three federally recognized Cherokee political bodies in the United States: the Cherokee Nation, the largest Cherokee community and the second largest tribal nation in the U.S. (with over 300,000 citizens), with its capital in Tahlequah, Oklahoma; the Eastern Band of Cherokees of the Qualla Boundary in North Carolina; and the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokees in Oklahoma and Arkansas.

IMPORTANT NOTE: For the most accurate information about Cherokee culture, politics, and history, and for information relating to both historical and contemporary Cherokee concerns, go to the official tribal websites, or contact the tribes themselves.

From Emmet Starr's *History of the Cherokee Indians*