About the Qualla Boundary

 

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Ginger L. Welch Complex
810 Acquoni Road
Cherokee, NC 28719

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The Sequoyah Fund serves all businesses on the Qualla Boundary (shown in red, above) and all enrolled members in the seven western counties of North Carolina.

  

Cherokee History

Originally, Cherokee land encompassed 140,000 square miles throughout what would now be part of eight southern states. Finely crafted stone tools and fluted spear-points confirm that Cherokee people lived in the area more than 11,000 years ago. And when European explorers arrived, they found industrious race of people that dominated the southern Appalachians. For the first 200 years of contact, the Cherokees extended hospitality and help to the newcomers.

But, by 1820s and after nearly 200 years of broken treaties, the Cherokee empire was reduced to a small territory. Andrew Jackson began to insist that all southeastern Indians be moved west of the Mississippi. The federal government no longer needed the Cherokees as strategic allies against the French and British. Land speculators wanted Cherokee land to sell for cotton plantations and for the gold that was discovered in Georgia. Although the Cherokees resisted removal through their bilingual newspaper and through legal means, taking their case all the way the Supreme Court, Jackson’s policy prevailed. In 1838, events culminated in the tragic Trail of Tears, the forced removal of the Cherokees in the East to Oklahoma. One quarter to half of the 16,000 Cherokees who began the long march died of exposure, disease, and the shock of separation from their home.

A few Cherokees refused to move and hid among the wilderness of the Great Smoky Mountains, avoiding the army and authorities. Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians Tribal members are direct descendents of those who avoided the Cherokees’ forced removal to Oklahoma. These Cherokees were allowed to claim some of their lands in western North Carolina in the 1870's. In 1889, a 56,000 acre sect of land was chartered and is now called the Qualla Boundary.

Qualla Boundary

The Qualla Boundary is the current home of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI). The 56,000-acre area is located in western North Carolina adjacent to the southern end of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The main part of the Boundary lies in eastern Swain County and northern Jackson County, but there are many smaller non-contiguous sections to the southwest in Cherokee County and Graham County. A very small part of the Qualla Boundary extends eastward into Haywood County. There are more than 13,300 enrolled members of EBCI and approximately 60% live on the Qualla Boundary.

The town of Cherokee is the center of the area. Cherokee is a major tourist destination for millions of visitors each year. It is a gateway to both the Blue Ridge Parkway and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park—two of the top three most visited recreation areas in the United States.

Sequoyah 1776-1843

Sequoyah Fund is named after Sequoyah, a Cherokee man who was a statesman, a diplomat, an inventor, and a thinker. He was also an entrepreneur.

As a young man Sequoyah focused his effort and talents toward creating a way for his people to communicate over distance and time, as well as preserve their wisdom, history, and culture for generations to come. He believed that much of the power white men wielded at the expense of Native Americans came from their ability to read and write.

The Cherokee people had relied on oral tradition and story-telling. Sequoyah worked for 12 years to create a syllabary—his version of an alphabet. Sequoyah’s writing system was so simple and utilitarian that anyone who could speak Cherokee could learn to read or write in two weeks. Virtually the entire Cherokee Nation became literate in little more than a year. One man, not literate in any language, perfected a system for reading and writing a language. The syllabary resulted in the first American Indian newspaper and helped the Cherokee people establish a constitutional basis for their government.

 

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