The Cherokee Nation is perhaps best known for surviving the infamous Trail of Tears, the forced removal that divested them of their homeland and cost more than 4,000 Cherokee lives. The Cherokees rebuilt in their new country, in the West, only to experience widespread devastation in the Civil War, in which 70 percent of Cherokee men fought for the Union. Thirty years later, the Cherokees faced the loss of their second country when Congress passed legislation that divided the Nation into individual allotments given to Cherokee citizens by blood and others listed in the census compiled by the Dawes Commission. This legislation paralyzed the Cherokee government for almost 70 years and statutorily abrogated many provisions of the Cherokees' treaties, including those related to entitlements and enrollment. The Cherokee Nation reorganized in the 1970s, and the Indian descendants of those original enrollees make up today's Cherokee Nation tribal citizenship. Today, there are more than 300,000 tribal citizens making up a diverse tribe with the common bond of having at least one Indian ancestor listed on the Dawes Roll.
The Cherokee Nation is the second largest Indian tribe in the United States; it is the largest in Oklahoma. As a federally-recognized Indian tribe, the Cherokee Nation has the sovereign right to self-determination: determining citizenship and exercising control and development of tribal assets. These rights are guaranteed in Cherokee, federal and international law. The Cherokee Nation employs more than 8,000 people and is a leader in education, health care, vocational training, business and economic development.
It was a spirit of survival and perseverance that carried the Cherokee to Indian Territory on the Trail of Tears. It is the same spirit leading the citizens of the Cherokee Nation today. Learn more.