From The Lodge Of The Chief
As understood by Chief - Man Many Trees

The Origin of the Overhill
Cherokee People


   Many years ago, many Native American tribes lived in what is now called the northeast section of the United States. They lived along the coastal waters of New York, Pennsylvania, the Carolinas, the Great Lakes and north into the Canadian region. There were many tribes and bands of Native -Americans living in this vast area, such as Seneca, Mohawk, Chippewa, Iroquois, and many, many more.

   Within these many tribes there would be a few in number who could not live in harmony, sought to marry outside tribal protocol, had committed crimes and were banished from their town, or groups who just wanted the freedom to live independently from their native tribe. These people migrated south into what is now Virginia and the Ohio Valley.

   As these small groups of people settled in the Virginia area, the mother tribes would harass their individual groups by attacking them from time to time. These renegade groups would then migrate deep into the southern part of the Virginia valleys.

   Eventually some of the groups shared the same areas for living and hunting, and as the years passed, more and more of these small groups realized that by sharing the same living areas, they were stronger in-defending against their mother tribes.

   Over the years these small groups of Native Americans formed an alliance. Banding together, they migrated to the Appalachian Mountains, and eventually to what is now called the Smoky Mountains. By making their homes in these mountains and banding together, they became a force to be reckoned with; leaving the mountains to defend their families and homes, then retreating to the protection of the mountains.

   They called themselves the 'Real People' or the 'Principal People'. The name Cherokee has no meaning in the Cherokee language. However, Tsa-la-gi is how it is pronounced in the Overhill dialect today. The Cherokee language is closely related with the Iroquois language according to Native American historians (I don't know), however, according to our traditional stories, Cherokee means 'people who live in caves, also Mountain People.

   Written history of the Overhill Cherokee dates back to 1540 AD through diaries and journals written by DeSoto and his men.

   The reason so many of the Overhill traditions, culture, and way of life are so similar to other northern tribes is the Overhill Cherokee originated from almost all the northeastern tribes. Therefore, Cherokee people can be identified as tall and straight, short and chunky, light brown or dark complexion, light colored eyes to dark brown eyes, with high cheekbones or round faces. The Overhill Cherokee is a combination of many tribes and cultures.

   When the Cherokee were removed in 1838, not all were removed to Oklahoma. Nor were the ones who hid in the Tennessee and North Georgia mountains allowed to join the Eastern Band of Cherokee - only those who hid in the Snow Bird Mountains were allowed to join the Eastern Band on the Qualla Reservation.

   Approximately 1000 to 1400 hid out in the mountains of Tennessee, North Georgia, and North Alabama. They were forced to take white man names. The women married white settlers, and the men fathered children with the white women. This group of Cherokee’s is the majority of the ancestors for Overhill Cherokee of today.

   However, some people from the Eastern Band as well as some recognized by the Western Band of Cherokee feel a kinship with the Overhill Cherokee, and this is as it should be. We are all children of the Cherokee Nation.

    Information and the beliefs of The Overhill Cherokees, as passed along by Chief - Man Many Trees. (aka... Lee Roy Gibson of Tellico Plains)


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