Qualla Boundary is the center of government and cultural capital of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians


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1797 Engraving of Cherokee Houses tinted by SE Heritage

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Overhill Cherokee Town on Little Tennessee River

Cherokee towns were repeatedly burned by both the British and the Americans in 1761 – 1794

Model detail from the Museum of the Cherokee

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Mural detail from McClung Museum, University of Tennessee


The Middle Towns were separated from the Out Towns by the Cowee and Alarka Mountain Ranges and lay along the course of the Little Tennessee River between Clayton, Georgia and the confluence of the Tuckasegee and Little Tennessee Rivers. 


The Out Town Towns were located along the Tuckasegee and Oconaluftee Rivers near modern Cherokee, NC. The sacred Mother Town of Kituwha (site) and Mound is located between Bryson City and Cherokee on the north side of the Tuckasegee River. 


The Valley Towns were separated from the Middle Towns by the Nantahala Mountains and lay along the bottomland of the Hiwassee and Valley Rivers. Modern towns that emerged on Valley Town sites were Andrews, Murphy and Hayesville.


The Overhill Towns were separated from the Valley Towns by the Unicoi Mountains which lie along the North Carolina and Tennessee state line. They were located on the Little Tennessee and Hiwassee Rivers in Tennessee.


The Lower Towns were separated from the mountain Cherokees by the Blue Ridge escarpment. Their towns were adjacent to the principal gateway to the mountain and over-the-mountain Cherokees. They developed a slightly different dialect from the more isolated towns and became a trading medium between the South Carolina traders from Charles Town.

The Charles Town Trading Path (an ancient corridor) became the highway for pack horse trains and later the armies that would come to “punish” the Cherokees for insubordination to the British and American policies. 

The Overhill Towns are in Tennessee; the Valley, Middle and Out Towns are in Western North Carolina and the Lower Towns in Upper South


The map below illustrates the first trade centers and major routes that were established around 1715 and afterwards.