The Territorial Claim 1680

Tellico Gap from Burningtown Watershed (facing west). A primary Cherokee trail passed through the gap into the Nantahala Mountains.

Deer, bear, turkey and trout were choice foods for the Cherokee

From Cowee Bald looking westward to the Nantahala Mountains

Cowee Mound in early morning mist – lower left of image

View from the sacred Wayah Bald looking eastward towards Nikwasi and the Little Tennessee River Valley near Franklin, NC

View south from Panther Ridge across Mica City Valley southward


In 1700, the Cherokee tribe was comprised of about 60 towns located principally in modern Western North Carolina, the Maryville, Tennessee area and Upper South Carolina. There hunting grounds and claims extended into Kentucky, West VIrginia, Virginia, western Tennessee, northern Alabama and north Georgia.

Around 1700, the Cherokee people were a powerful tribe of Native Americans who were uncontrolled by world powers and politics because of their remote and isolated homeland that lay west of the Appalachian Mountains. 

The seaboard colonies of the British Empire were 250 miles eastward on the Atlantic coast. The Cherokee enjoyed vast expanses of wilderness where they hunted, farmed, fished and contended with enemies who threatened their resources or challenged their martial skills. 

Their way of life would change dramatically as the small and seemingly benign settlements of English Colonists who brought gifts and English trade commodities to native tribes increased in numbers and encouraged swarms of European immigrants to settle in the Colonies.

The early British surveyors called the Blue Ridge and Southern Appalachians “Impassable mountains.” The trails winding over the mountains were in places so narrow that horses passing each other scraped their hair off for fear of the great heights.