North Carolina’s Mountain Treasures
Help Protect the Vulnerable Wildlands of the Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests

Cherokee Heritage

These sketches, by wilderness hiker and artist janice Barrett, were drawn to illustrate the life of a native American called Lojah.

The Cherokee Indians lived in a virtual paradise along the river valleys. Rich flood plains and abundant bear, deer and turkey allowed them to grow, hunt and gather all the food they needed. The early Europeans called the region the “Cherokee Mountains.

The Little Tennessee River watershed was laced with Cherokee trails, most of which closely followed the river and its dozens of tributaries. Numerous fish weirs are yet found in riverbeds and serve as landmarks where fish harvesting and processing camps were located. About nineteen Cherokee towns or settlements were located between the headwaters of the Little Tennessee River near Rabun Gap, GA, to its junction with the Tuckasegee River.

This area lies between the Nantahala and Cowee Mountains, the sources of pristine waters. Some of the more important towns were located near Dillard, GA, and near Otto, Franklin, Iotla and Cowee Community in North Carolina. Twenty-eight Cherokee Citizen Reservations were located on the Little Tennessee and tributaries.  Names like Yellow Bear, Trout, Little Deer, Whipporwill, and Six Killer were among those who took reserves in 1819.

Sadly,  European American settlers forced most of the Cherokees from their lands cession by cession. A remnant of the Eastern Cherokees remained in western North Carolina.

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