Federally Recognized Nations in North Carolina

Eastern Band of Cherokee, Swain and Jackson Counties

The Eastern Band of Cherokee is North Carolina’s only federally recognized tribe. In 1836, as thousands of Cherokees marched west from North Carolina to Indian Territory in Oklahoma, several hundred Cherokee people remained in hiding in the North Carolina mountains. Over 600 people were able to obtain North Carolina citizenship which exempted them from removal. In 1848, the US Congress agreed to recognize the rights of North Carolina Cherokees if the state recognized them as permanent residents, which they did in 1866. Today, the 8,000 members of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians are direct descendents of the people who avoided the forced removal to Oklahoma. In 1889, 56,000 acres of land were chartered as the Qualla Boundary. Today the Qualla Boundary is public trust land held by the federal government for the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. The reservation is home to the Oconaluftee Indian Village, the Museum of the Cherokee Indian, the country’s oldest Native American crafts cooperative, and the world famous outdoor drama Unto These Hills.