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Trade and Conflict

Cherokee Trade Brings Change

Beginning in the early seventeenth century, the Cherokee engaged in trade with European immigrants. By 1650, they had begun growing peaches and watermelon, acquired through trade. By the end of the century, Cherokees had regular contact with European colonists and sent a delegation to the British in Charleston to protest the enslavement of Cherokee people by the whites.

An Uneasy Alliance

In the early years of the eighteenth century, Cherokees and Europeans engaged in relatively peaceful cultural exchange, trade, and even intermarriage. But smallpox epidemics continued to devastate the Cherokee population, and military campaigns destroyed dozens of Cherokee towns. Seventy-five percent of Cherokee land was lost through treaties. The two cultures co-existed in an uneasy relationship for most of the century.

Cherokee Indians After the Revolutionary War

During the Revolutionary War, the Cherokee allied themselves with the British. When the British were defeated, the Cherokee lost much of their land in Western North Carolina to the new country of America. The tribe managed to recover, however, becoming one of the “civilized” tribes, with schools, churches, government, and a written language, remarkably invented by an illiterate tribesman known as Sequoyah. This led to the development of a printing press and bilingual newspaper, the Cherokee Phoenix.