The landmark case that would forever effect the Cherokee people.
In the early 1800's and late 1700's European imigrants began to encroach on 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. Chairman Sneed was appointed as the 1st Tribal Chariman by the Governor of Georgia. Since that time we have openly organized ourselves as the Georgia Tribe of Eastern Cherokee. We are incorporated and 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, georgiatribeofeasternindians.com, georgiacherokee.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.
In fact the most notable Cherokees resided in the State of Georgia. And as a result left many descendants in Georgia. The present Tribal Chairman Lamar Sneed 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 ancestry 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.
The Cherokee in Georgia made everything they needed. Today it is important to the surviving native cultures to continue practicing the skills and sharing the traditions that ensured survival.
A documentary detailing the lives of the Snowbird Cherokee. A small group of Eastern Band Cherokee who live in the farthest Cherokee community; Snowbird in Graham Co. NC
Tommy Wildcat's life work is sharing Cherokee culture and history. We talk about what drives him to create a better understanding of the Cherokee people.