A Historical Background of the Eastern Cherokees 1700 to 1838

An Outline of Significant Events Leading to the

Establishment of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians


CherokeeCessionMaps - American_State_Papers-Old-Tassels-Map-of-1785.jpg
1785 Sketch Map hand-drawn by Old Tassel showing Cherokee boundary

Acknowledgements and Project Description

Thanks to the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, the Cherokee Preservation Foundation, (CPF), EBCI Tribal Historic Preservation Office (THPO), EBCI Cultural Resources, faculty and programs of Western Carolina University, Mainspring Land Trust (formerly LTLT), US Forest Service, National Park Service, EBCI Tribal Elders, National Trail of Tears Association, Dr. Brett Riggs, Qualla Library, Swain, Jackson and Macon Historical Societies, and many others including Tribal members.

In the fall of 2016, Southeast Heritage was awarded a grant from the Cherokee Preservation Foundation to produce an online, educational GIS Story Map series extracted from a collection of (CPF funded) archives including historical maps, surveys, Cherokee genealogical records and early journals. The EBCI related records, surveys, historical maps, genealogical number OVER 100,000 files.

This collection of archives has been housed in a digital repository in the Qualla Library and the EBCI Tribal Historic Preservation Office. The digital records are in the process of being added to PastPerfect, a museum-grade program for identifying records by metadata/keywords. This database is accessible as a primary research source by the Qualla Boundary Historical Society for Tribal genealogical research. The Qualla Boundary Historical Society was established in accordance with EBBCI Tribal Resolution No. 183 (2008).

The subjects include genealogy, maps of Cherokee towns and trails, and historical events leading to the establishment of the Eastern Band in Western North Carolina. Mainspring Conservation Trust serves as the fiscal agent for the project. The project is in partnership with the EBCI GIS Department and hosted on the EBCI GIS website. The Story Maps are the property of the EBCI.

This Story Map Series is a chronological sequence of significant events and geography designed as an abstracted, graphically-illustrated, inspiring tool that can be accessed online from personal computers, iPads, iPhones and available to libraries or schools.  Interactive GIS maps are a part of each Story Map page. 

The series will link with and invite the public to visit Cherokee, NC, to experience the living history of the reconstructed Oconaluftee Indian Village, the Museum of the Cherokee, Qualla Arts and Crafts and other authentic representatives of cultural heritage.

The Power of the ArcGIS Online Maps and Story Maps


As an online tool for teachers and students, this resource will benefit the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians educationally by challenging and inspiring the younger generation to recognize and appreciate their historical identity and to become the future researchers, teachers and expounders of Cherokee cultural heritage.

Cultural Tourism and Economic Development

As resources for various organizations, the GIS work will provide access to hard-to-find maps and historical information and a collection of graphics produced exclusively for this work by Southeast Heritage. Kiosks, iPhone apps and teaching modules would benefit from this work.

A snapshot of the Online GIS map of Cherokee trails in Western North Carolina

A snapshot of a page from the 1776 Rutherford Expedition

A snapshot from the GIS Online map of Cherokee Citizen 640 acre reserves under the Treaties of 1817-1819