Cherokee, North Carolina


Cherokee ( chr, ᏣᎳᎩ, translit=Tsalagi) is a
census-designated place A census-designated place (CDP) is a concentration of population defined by the United States Census Bureau The United States Census Bureau (USCB), officially the Bureau of the Census, is a principal agency of the U.S. Federal Statistical S ...
(CDP) in
Swain Swain, Swains or Swain's may refer to: Places * Swain County, North Carolina, USA * Swain Islands, Antarctica * Swain's Island (Newfoundland and Labrador), Canada * Swains Island, an atoll in the Tokelau chain, the most northwesterly island admin ...
Jackson Jackson may refer to: People * Jackson (name), including a list of people with the surname or given name, with nicknames including "Jackson" "Jacky" or "Jack" Places Australia *Jackson, Queensland, a town in the Maranoa Region *Jackson North, ...
counties in
Western North Carolina Western North Carolina (often abbreviated as WNC) is the region In geography, regions are areas that are broadly divided by physical characteristics (physical geography), human impact characteristics (human geography), and the interaction of hum ...
, United States, within the
Qualla Boundary The Qualla Boundary or The Qualla is territory held as a land trust by the United States government for the federally recognized Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, who reside in Western North Carolina, western North Carolina. The area is part of ...
land trust. Cherokee is located in the Oconaluftee River Valley around the intersection of U.S. Routes 19 and
441 __NOTOC__ Year 441 (Roman numerals, CDXLI) was a common year starting on Wednesday (link will display the full calendar) of the Julian calendar. At the time, it was known as the Year of the Consulship of Seleucus without colleague (or, less fr ...
. As of the
2010 census2010 census may refer to: * 2010 Chinese Census * 2010 Dominican Republic Census * 2010 Indonesian census * 2010 Malaysian Census * 2010 Russian Census * 2010 Turkish census * 2010 United States Census * 2010 Zambian census {{Disambiguation ...
, the CDP had a population of 2,138. It is the capital of the federally recognized
Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI), (Cherokee The Cherokee (; chr, ᎠᏂᏴᏫᏯᎢ, translit=Aniyvwiyaʔi, or chr, ᏣᎳᎩ, links=no, translit=Tsalagi) are one of the indigenous people of the Southeastern Woodlands of the ...
, one of three recognized Cherokee tribes and the only one in North Carolina.


Cherokee is the capital of the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Nation and part of the traditional homelands of the Cherokee people. In the 1870s, the Eastern Band purchased the land for what is called the "Qualla Boundary". To continue the heritage of the Cherokee in the town, several signs for Cherokee's streets and buildings are written in both
Cherokee syllabary The Cherokee syllabary is a syllabary In the linguistic Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for studying and modeling them. The trad ...

Cherokee syllabary
and English. As a census-designated place (CDP), Cherokee overlaps most or part of three of the seven communities of the Qualla Boundary: Painttown, Wolftown, and Yellowhill.


Cherokee town and its surrounding Qualla Boundary is in the very mountainous Swain and Jackson counties. The highest elevation is
Clingman's Dome Clingmans Dome (or Clingman's Dome) is a mountain in the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee and North Carolina, in the southeastern United States. At an topographical summit, elevation of , it is the highest mountain in the Great Smoky Mountains Na ...
at the border with Tennessee. Clingman's Dome is the highest point in the Great Smoky Mountains. The
Oconaluftee River The Oconaluftee River drains the south-central Oconaluftee valley of the Great Smoky Mountains in Western North Carolina before emptying into the Tuckasegee River. The river flows through the Qualla Boundary, a federal land trust that serves ...
flows through downtown Cherokee.


2020 census

As of the 2020 United States census, there were 2,195 people, 867 households, and 561 families residing in the CDP.



The EBCI negotiated an agreement with the state, and in 1997 opened Harrah's Cherokee Casino for gaming. It has generated jobs and revenue for the tribe, providing money that the EBCI applies to its people's education, welfare and culture. In 2005, nearly four million people visited the casino and generated a
per capita ''Per capita'' is a Latin phrase literally meaning "by heads" or "for each head", and idiomatically used to mean "per person". The term is used in a wide variety of social sciences Social science is the branch The branches and leaves o ...
profit of roughly $8,000 annually."The business of gambling"
CNN The Cable News Network (CNN) is a multinational news-based pay television Pay television, also known as subscription television, premium television or, when referring to an individual service, a premium channel, refers to subscription The ...

, 06 July 2005
Each member of the tribe is paid some annual income; the tribe reinvests other monies for health and related services, and long-term development. Since the late 20th century, most manufacturing and textile plants left the area, moving their jobs offshore to lower wage areas, such as Southeast Asia. The regional economy suffered. Many of the Cherokee had to rely on jobs related to national park tourism and recreation, which provided work for about half of the year. Many tribal members had to rely on public assistance to survive during the winter.


Cherokee is a
tourist at the archaeological site of Chichén Itza. in Vienna. Tourism is travel for pleasure or business; also the theory and practice of touring (disambiguation), touring, the business of attracting, accommodating, and entertaining tourists, and th ...

-oriented area, located at the entrance to
Great Smoky Mountains National Park Great Smoky Mountains National Park is an American national park#REDIRECT National park A national park is a park in use for Conservation (ethic), conservation purposes, created and protected by national governments. Often it is a reserve ...

Great Smoky Mountains National Park
and at the southern end of the
Blue Ridge Parkway The Blue Ridge Parkway is a National Parkway and National Scenic Byway, All-American Road in the United States, noted for its scenic beauty. The parkway, which is America's longest linear park, runs for through 29 Virginia and North Carolina co ...

Blue Ridge Parkway
. In addition to the casino, it is the site of attractions such as: * Cherokee Botanical Garden and Nature Trail * Trail to Mount Guyot *
Museum of the Cherokee Indian A museum ( ; plural museums or, rarely, musea) is an institution that cares for (conserves) a collection Collection or Collections may refer to: * Cash collection, the function of an accounts receivable department * Collection agency, a ...
Oconaluftee Indian Village The Oconaluftee Indian Village is a replica of an 18th-century eastern Cherokee community located in Cherokee, North Carolina, Cherokee, North Carolina, United States along the Oconaluftee River. The Cherokee "living museum" is operated by the Cher ...
Oconaluftee (Great Smoky Mountains) Oconaluftee Archeological District is within the eponymous river valley A valley is an elongated low area often running between hills or mountains, which will typically contain a river or stream running from one end to the other. Most ...
* Qualla Arts & Crafts Mutual *
Oconaluftee River The Oconaluftee River drains the south-central Oconaluftee valley of the Great Smoky Mountains in Western North Carolina before emptying into the Tuckasegee River. The river flows through the Qualla Boundary, a federal land trust that serves ...
Eastern Cherokee history, culture, and crafts are portrayed in the
historical drama A historical drama (also period drama, costume drama, and period piece) is a work set in a past time period, usually used in the context of film and television. Historical drama includes historical fiction #REDIRECT historical fiction#REDIRECT his ...
Unto These Hills 200px, Closeup of ''Unto These Hills'' performers ''Unto These Hills'' is an outdoor historical drama during summers at the 2,800-seat Mountainside Theatre in Cherokee The Cherokee (; chr, ᎠᏂᏴᏫᏯᎢ, translit=Aniyvwiyaʔi, or ...
'', presented annually during the tourist season. The Cherokee area offers many campgrounds, trails and river adventures. It is also home to three
roadside attraction A roadside attraction is a feature along the side of a road meant to attract tourists. In general, these are places one might stop on the way to somewhere, rather than actually being a destination. They are frequently advertised with billboard (ad ...
s with zoos: Cherokee Bear Zoo, Chief Saunooke Bear Park, and Santa's Land. The zoos have been considered controversial.
Bob Barker Robert William Barker (born December 12, 1923) is an American retired television game show host. He is known for hosting CBS's '' The Price Is Right'' from 1972 to 2007, making it the longest-running daytime game show in North American tele ...

Bob Barker
, a retired game show host and animal rights activist, has called for closing the black bear zoos at these attractions. Cherokee Wonderland and Frontier Land were two amusement parks that operated in the area in the late 1960s and into the early 21st century, respectively. The latter was converted into a water park before being closed to make way for development of Harrah's Cherokee. When they were open, both parks featured their own
narrow gauge A narrow-gauge railway (narrow-gauge railroad in the US) is a railway with a track gauge In rail transport Rail transport (also known as train transport) is a means of transferring passengers and goods on wheeled vehicle A vehicle ...

narrow gauge
railroads (named '' Cherokee Wonderland Railroad'' and '' Frontier Land Railroad'').

Notable people

* Walker Calhoun, musician, dancer, and teacher *
Amanda Crowe Amanda Crowe (July 16, 1928 – September 27, 2004) was an Eastern Band Cherokee woodcarver and educator from Cherokee, North Carolina in Cherokee Image:Museum of the Cherokee Indian, Cherokee, NC IMG 4881.JPG, 200px, Museum of the Cherokee ...
, woodcarver and educator * Raymond Fairchild, banjo player * Charles George, Medal of Honor recipient *Leo Miller (American football), Leon Miller, American football player and lacrosse coach *Clyde Moody, bluegrass music, bluegrass musician *Stan Powell, NFL player for the Oorang Indians *William Holland Thomas, Cherokee leader and Confederate States Army, Confederate general


Cherokee Central Schools operates the K–12 public schools. Cherokee High School (North Carolina), Cherokee High School is the local high school. The private elementary school, New Kituwah Academy, is based on language immersion in Cherokee. Previously the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) provided educational services, and in their schools students were not permitted to speak Cherokee.

Popular culture

Scenes from movies such as ''Davy Crockett, King of the Wild Frontier'', ''Digging to China'', ''Forces of Nature (1999 film), Forces of Nature'', ''The Fugitive (1993 film), The Fugitive'', and ''Stroszek'' were shot in Cherokee.Locations in Cherokee, NC
from Internet Movie Database


External links

Cherokee Tourism website

2009 Boundary and Annexation Survey
a U.S. Census map for Cherokee and the surrounding area
The argument for a basic income
{{Authority control Census-designated places in Jackson County, North Carolina Census-designated places in North Carolina Census-designated places in Swain County, North Carolina Cherokee towns in North Carolina Communities of the Great Smoky Mountains Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians Tourism in North Carolina