The Cherokee Indian Reservation is home to the Eastern Band of the Cherokee. It is located in the Great Smoky Mountains of Western North Carolina and has been a part of the Cherokee's homeland for thousands of years. Today, Cherokee is the center of the tirbe's history and culture and they welcome worldwide visitors to their homeland with activities and experiences for all ages.
According to legend the birthplace of the Cherokee was a place called Kitawah, a beautiful valley on the banks of the Tuckaseigee River. Today, Kitawah is part of the Cherokee Indian lands in Swain County, near Bryson City. In the 2000 years following Kitawah the Cherokee Nation grew into a mighty empire with an advanced civilization that may have numbered over 25,000 people, and covered over 40,000 square miles of territory. The Cherokee Nation included lands in North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama, Virginia and West Virginia.
In the 200 years following the arrival of DeSoto, the Cherokee's numbers declined dramatically as a result of slaughter, warfare and disease. Their lands were attractive to the white settlers, and President Andrew Jackson ordered them forcibly removed to Oklahoma. Along the sand and tragic "Trail of Tears" more than 4000 Cherokee died. A few hundred of the Cherokee were spared the removal and remained on their homelands in the Smoky Mountains by hiding and eluding the forces of President Jackson. A native of the region, William H. Thomas, was a friend to the members of the tribe who remained. He purchased land and gave to the Cherokee. Later, the United States Congress funded the purchase of the entire tract of land that became The Cherokee Indian Reservation. The descendents of the Cherokee who remained on their homeland in the Smoky Mountains now make up the Eastern Band and live on the Cherokee Indian Reservation in Swain County, North Carolina.
Today, Cherokee offers attractions for visitors including The Cherokee Indian Village, The Museum of The Cherokee Indian, the outdoor drama Unto These Hills, and a variety of modern accommodations, restaurants and craft shops. More recently, the Cherokee have added Harrah's Cherokee Casino and it has become another magnet for tourism to the Reservation, and is a wonderful base of financial security for the tribe and the surrounding area.
Cherokee is about 15 minutes east of Bryson City, N.C. and about 30 minutes east of the Nantahala River Gorge.