Origins of the Cherokee People
The Cherokees moved gradually to the east and north, where many clues and evidence are found, such as mounds in Ohio, Virginia, Illinois, Tennessee, Iowa and Georgia. Exploration of these mounds showed that their composition is very similar to the ones that are known for the early Cherokees. For example, in one of the mounds in Georgia, two copper plates were found, and it is known that Georgia territory has been inhabited by the Cherokees since the year of 1540.
The tradition tells that they were traveling further east, coming on the Delaware River. Eventually, they were stopped by the Iroquois confederacy. Prior to that, however, they had already sustained contact with the Iroquois, and as a result, Iroquois and Cherokees imbibed many words.
In their further migrations, they unexpectedly (from the point of view of other tribes that lived there) arrived at the coastland area, where the Senecas and other tribes thought that they came from the earth. Therefore, they considered them as “the people that came from a hole in the ground" or “cave men." Furthermore, Delawares called them "Allegaus" and Shawnees called them “Keetoowhas".
The Cherokees were forced to move from the region close to the Great Lakes due to enemies, usually the valorous Iroquois. After some time, they reached the southern Appalachian Mountains. Some were forced to travel to Oklahoma by the federal government in the 1830 Indian Removal Act, a journal referred to as the Trail of Tears. Finally, they created a neutral strip which extended north to the Ohio River.