History : Aug-Sep 2015
Around 1540 the Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto pushed into Cherokee country and was the first European to encounter these Native Americans. It was long believed they had built the large mounds found in their territory, but this is now thought to be unlikely. JOHN BERKEY/NGS t the end of the 17th century English and Scottish traders ventured more regularly into the almost uncharted southern interior of North America. Some of them began to trade with a unique group of Native Americans they referred to as the Cherokee. This was not a politically centralized Indian nation but a group of around 20,000 people living in about 70 towns across the mountains and valleys of the southern Appalachians. The Cherokee were united not by national affinity, but by kinship, a belief in common origins, a set of related dialects, a commitment to particular social institutions and ideas, and a distinct spiritual understanding of the universe. As these traders began to make their presence felt in the land of the Cherokees, they left a fascinating picture of how this tribe initially lived and how it tried to adapt to the new world the Europeans brought with them.