the early 1800's and late 1700's the whites began to encroach
on the Cherokee lands. They married Cherokee women and
raised families. As a result of that, they were welcomed
into the Cherokee Nation. Their children were considered
Cherokee in all ways. Especially when one considers that
among the Cherokee, the children of a union, when between Cherokee
and white were considered as members of the mother's clan.
The Cherokee practiced a matrirocial society. When gold
was discovered in Georgia in 1828, the Cherokee nation was flooded
with white miners/immigrants. Many took Cherokee wives
and raised large families. The children under Cherokee
law and tradition were Cherokee in all ways.
Prior to the forced removal of full blood Cherokees in 1838,
there was a minimum of forty years that the white race
intermarried with the Cherokee race, producing many Cherokee
descendants. Even English soldiers brought children within
the Cherokee nation, prior to the American Revolution.
Those descendants were NOT removed, as most people believe
on the now infamous Trail of Tears. Only households with
a Cherokee at its head were removed. Mixed
families with a White as the head of household were not removed,
thus leaving thousands of mixed blood Cherokee still living
within the confines of the State of Georgia. Those
descendants remained and married not only whites but mixed blood
Cherokees themselves. Georgia had passed many laws that
discouraged Cherokee descendants from proclaiming their Cherokee
heritage. And yet, the Cherokee descendants did proclaim
their heritage within their own communities and families, throughout
north Georgia, keeping their history and traditions alive for
future generations. They remained tsaligi
(Cherokee). They continued to practice their beliefs and
customs, even when it was illegal by the State Government and
the Federal Government as well, their religious traditions and
beliefs, in secret and behind closed doors, on farms and lands
far back into the Georgia mountain vallys, far from the sight
of the State and Federal governments eyes. They continued
to be tsaligi (Cherokee). One needs to look no
further than the Chapman and Siler rolls, the Guion-Miller
and the Baker rolls of Cherokees living east of the Mississippi
river during the 1840 and 1850's and on up to 1925, the date
of the Baker roll, to find the evidence of Cherokees still
residing in Georgia after the so called removal of ALL Cherokee
from the State of Georgia. Georgia along with the Federal
Government was racist from the very beginning. Any hint
of Indian blood had to be denied. Indians were not considered
as competent witnesses in courts of law. They could not
pass on lands that they owned to their heirs, they could not
vote nor practice their Native American traditions in the form
of worship, etc. Native Americans were only given the
right to vote in 1947, recognizing them as American citizens.
This type of racism caused the Cherokee descendants to have
to deny their Cherokee heritage to the outside world.
Yet we are still here in the State of Georgia. The State
recognized this fact in 1993 when it passed the recognition
bill, recognizing the descendant s of Cherokee in Georgia as
the Georgia Tribe of Eastern Cherokee. Since that time,
we have openly organized ourselves as the Georgia Tribe of Eastern
Cherokee. We are incorporated, we have 501c3 status.
We have a speakers bureau that conducts history talks to all
North Georgia Schools and Colleges, State Parks, Social Clubs,
Business Clubs and Historical societies, etc. The tribe
has its own website, we own the names GTECI.com, georgiatribeofeasterncherokee.com,
We communicate regualrly with our members via the U.S. Mail,
the Internet, email and telephone. We charge no speaking
fees to educate the people of Georgia on the history of the
Cherokee people, our people, the TSALIGI.
The last Cherokee Capital
was located in Calhoun, Georgia (Now known as
Echota) The most prominent Cherokee Chief was
only 1/8 Cherokee. He was
Ross, a resident of Georgia.
Elias Boudinot, the editor
of the Cherokee Newspaper, the Cherokee Phoenix, was a resident
Major Ridge, a prominent
Cherokee, who signed the removal treaty, was a resident of Rome,
Sequoyah, the inventor of
the Cherokee Syllabary, which resulted in the Cherokee being
enabled to read and write, was a resident of Georgia.
Nancy Ward, the most beloved
woman, hero to red and white alike, a resident of Georgia, leaving
James Vann, the most notable
Cherokee Chief was a native of Georgia. See
House, in Chatsworth, Georgia.
In fact the most notable
Cherokees resided in the State of Georgia. And as a result
left many descendants in Georgia.
The present Executive Director is 1/8 Cherokee
himself, and a descendant of Nancy Ward. His ancestors
can be found on the Chapman and Siler and Baker rolls of Cherokee
Indians in North Georgia, Union County, under Sneed and Ward,
and in North Carolina. In fact, many of our members do
trace their dependency back to many prominent Cherokee ancestors.
The Tribe is actively seeking
land to establish a ceremonial complex, a museum, history and
visitor center, and a repatriation cemetery, (for Indian remains)
which would benefit the Entire State of Georgia and the entire
Southeast United States.
Georgia has taken a back seat too long in proclaiming their
Cherokee history and Cherokee residents/citizens, and allowed
North Carolina to proclaim themselves as the only Official Cherokees
left in the Southeast.
The name Tsaligi is the name the Cherokee people gave themselves.
It means the principle people. We as Cherokee descendants
in Georgia still consider ourselves as the Principle people. TSALIGI now and forevermore.
Lucian Lamar Sneed, PH.D
Georgia Tribe of Eastern Cherokee
P.O. Box 1915
Cumming, GA 30028