Total population
316,049 enrolled tribal members
(Eastern Band: >13,000, Cherokee Nation: 288,749, United Keetoowah Band: 14,300)[1]
819,105 claimed Cherokee ancestry in the 2010 Census[2]
Regions with significant populations
 United States

 California large ethnic diaspora community (pop. unknown)
 North Carolina 16,158 (0.2%)[3]

 Oklahoma 102,580 (2.7%) – extends to nearby Arkansas, Kansas and Missouri[3]
English, Cherokee
Christianity, Kituhwa, Four Mothers Society,[4] Native American Church[5]

The Cherokee (/; Cherokee: ᎠᏂᏴᏫᏯ, translit. Aniyvwiyaʔi or Cherokee: ᏣᎳᎩ, translit. Tsalagi) are one of the indigenous people of the Southeastern Woodlands. Prior to the 18th century, they were concentrated in southwestern North Carolina, southeastern Tennessee, and the tips of western South Carolina and northeastern Georgia.[6]

The Cherokee language is part of the Iroquoian language group. In the 19th century, James Mooney, an American ethnographer, recorded one oral tradition that told of the tribe having migrated south in ancient times from the Great Lakes region, where other Iroquoian-speaking peoples lived;[7] however, anthropologist Thomas R. Whyte writes that the origin of the proto-Iroquoian language was likely the Appalachian region and the split between Northern and Southern Iroquoian languages began 4,000 years ago.[8]

Today there are three federally recognized Cherokee tribes: the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians in North Carolina, the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians (UKB) in Oklahoma, and the Cherokee Nation (CN) in Oklahoma.[9]

By the 19th century, European settlers in the United States classified the Cherokee of the Southeast as one of the "Five Civilized Tribes", because they were agrarian and lived in permanent villages and began to adopt some cultural and technological practices of the European American settlers. The Cherokee were one of the first, if not the first, major non-European ethnic group to become U.S. citizens. Article 8 in the 1817 treaty with the Cherokee stated that Cherokees may wish to become citizens of the United States.[10]

The Cherokee Nation has more than 300,000 tribal members, making it the largest of the 567 federally recognized tribes in the United States.[11] In addition, numerous groups claim Cherokee lineage, and some of these are state-recognized. A total of more that 819,000 people claim having Cherokee ancestry on the US census, which includes persons who are not enrolled members of any tribe.[2]

Of the three federally recognized Cherokee tribes, the Cherokee Nation and the UKB have headquarters in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. The UKB are mostly descendants of "Old Settlers", Cherokee who migrated to Arkansas and Oklahoma about 1817 prior to Indian Removal. They are related to the Cherokee who were later forcibly relocated there in the 1830s under the Indian Removal Act. The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians is on the Qualla Boundary in western North Carolina; their ancestors resisted or avoided relocation, remaining in the area.[12]


A Cherokee language name for Cherokee people is Aniyvwiyaʔi (ᎠᏂᏴᏫᏯ), translating as "Principal People". Tsalagi is the Cherokee (ᏣᎳᎩ) word for Cherokee.[13]

Many theories, though none proven, abound about the origin of the name "Cherokee". It may have originally been derived from the Choctaw word Cha-la-kee, which means "people who live in the mountains", or Choctaw Chi-luk-ik-bi, meaning "people who live in the cave country".[14] The earliest Spanish transliteration of the name, from 1755, is recorded as Tchalaquei.[15] Another theory is that "Cherokee" derives from a Lower Creek word Cvlakke ("chuh-log-gee").[16] The Iroquois Five Nations based in New York have historically called the Cherokee Oyata'ge'ronoñ ("inhabitants of the cave country").[17]Also the word Cherokee means “people of different speech.”

Other Languages
Afrikaans: Cherokee
አማርኛ: ጻላጊ
asturianu: Cheroqui
azərbaycanca: Çerokilər
تۆرکجه: چروکی‌‌لر
Bân-lâm-gú: Cherokee
башҡортса: Чероки
беларуская: Чэрокі
български: Чероки
català: Cherokees
Чӑвашла: Чероки
čeština: Čerokíové
Cymraeg: Cherokee
dansk: Cherokee
Deutsch: Cherokee
Diné bizaad: Chééwokii Dineʼé
Ελληνικά: Τσερόκι
español: Cheroqui
Esperanto: Ĉerokoj
euskara: Txeroki
فارسی: چروکی
français: Cherokees
Gaeilge: Seiricíoch
한국어: 체로키족
հայերեն: Չերոկիներ
Bahasa Indonesia: Cherokee
italiano: Cherokee
עברית: צ'רוקי
ქართული: ჩეროკები
latviešu: Čiroki
lietuvių: Čerokiai
magyar: Cserokik
македонски: Чероки
മലയാളം: ചെറോക്കീ
मराठी: चेरोकी
Bahasa Melayu: Cherokee
Nederlands: Cherokee (volk)
日本語: チェロキー
norsk: Cherokee
oʻzbekcha/ўзбекча: Chiroqilar
Plattdüütsch: Cherokee (Volk)
polski: Czirokezi
português: Cherokees
română: Cherokee
Runa Simi: Chiruki
русский: Чероки
Scots: Cherokee
Simple English: Cherokee
српски / srpski: Чероки
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Cherokee
suomi: Cherokeet
svenska: Cherokeser
தமிழ்: செரோக்கீ
Tsetsêhestâhese: Sena'kaneo'o
Türkçe: Çerokiler
українська: Черокі
اردو: چروکی
Tiếng Việt: Người Cherokee
粵語: 柴羅基人
中文: 切羅基人