A Spark Station Letter – Cherokee Indians – history for kids

by Mary Ann on October 30, 2010

When you write your Spark Station letters try to tie them into your family, a holiday, a family tradition, your work or neighborhood  or an event that is current. This makes the information more pertinent and interesting to a child.

pictures of cherokees

cherokee indians

Dear  Aubrey,

I have been doing some genealogy lately. That is the study of our ancestors. There is an old story in our family history about someone, a great, great, great, grandfather  that married an Indian princess. She was supposedly from the Cherokee Nation. There is no record of this event, just a family legend. I think that it would be wonderful if it were true because that would mean that we all have some Lamanite and Nephite blood in us. We would really be tied to the Book of Mormon then. How cool!

Sequoyah pictures

Sequoyah, Inventor of the Cherokee language

Well, I don’t know if that story is really true but I have always really liked studying Native Americans. I think that my favorite tribe is the Sioux but the Cherokee are really fascinating too. The Cherokees were farmers and hunters who lived in the mountains of the southeast United States (principally Georgia, the Carolinas and Eastern Tennessee). You can see that part of the country on a map. They spoke an Iroquoian language. The Iroquois were broken into a number of different groups, the Cherokee being one.

cherokee nation picture

Cherokee Nation

These people were called one of the “Five Civilized Tribes”, because they had adopted so many of the white mans ways. They had developed a written language and also a government. They called themselves the “Principal People.” This is a picture of the man who made the alphabet for his people. It is very different from our alphabet.

This is what their alphabet looks like.

This is how a sentance looks  in their language: Tsalagi: Nigada aniyvwi nigeguda’lvna ale unihloyi unadehna duyukdv gesv’i. Gejinela unadanvtehdi ale unohlisdi ale sagwu gesv junilvwisdanedi anahldinvdlv adanvdo gvhdi

This is what it says in English:  All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood. (Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Don’t you think that what they believed was the same as what Jesus taught!

It is very interesting that the Cherokee Indians had a “white” organization and a “red” organization. The white group was the priests who were in charge of the spiritual life of the tribe. The red group was in charge of war. They thought that war was a polluting activity and so when they went to war they got a blessing from the priest and when they came back from war they got another blessing.

One of the first white men to see the Cherokee was a Spaniard called Hernando de Soto. He was looking for gold but he never found any. He did spread diseases among the Indians and he also killed a great many of them.

These Indians had a newspaper, helped fight in the War of 1812 and had the Bible translated into their language. They were trying in many ways to fit into the new world that was created when the “white man” came to America. This didn’t matter because the government said that they had to give up all their land and move to Arkansas. Wow! That was a terrible thing for all the people and they didn’t want to go so far away to a place they had never seen. Some did go but many fought against the government.

trail of tears picture

“The Trail of Tears”

There was a gold rush in Georgia. I didn’t know that! It was the first gold rush in the United States. Well, of course all the white men wanted the gold and it was on lands that belonged to the Cherokee so they were determined to get rid of the people. Finally, President Martin Van Buren ordered the militia to drive the people out. That exodus of over 800 miles is called “The Trail of Tears” because it was so terrible. Over 4000 people died in the march. Doesn’t that make you think of the Mormon Pioneers who were expelled from Nauvoo and the state in the middle of the winter and made to march so far in the snow? They had to give up all their lands too!

Cherokee chief Tahchee picture

Cherokee chief Tahchee

The two pictures are of chiefs. They don’t look like the Indians on TV and in the movies.

Cherokee chief Band picture

Cherokee chief Band

The Cherokee people lived like white people in many ways. They wanted to be accepted like anyone else. That did not happen and they had many hard things to bear.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the family legend were true and we carried some of the Cherokee Nations blood. How cool would that be!!

I hope that you guys all have a very wonderful Easter. We will miss not being with you. By the way, did you know that old grandma’s birthday is the 29th of March? That is my mom. She will be 79 years old. Can you believe it !!!!!!!  I LOVE you.



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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

GG October 25, 2011 at 6:03 pm

I just wanted to mention that when I look up that Universal Declaration of Human Rights, I only see the UN and the Article that goes in it. I believe that Human Rights as Christ taught is in the Constitution further promoting it to the world with more ease, but I do not think that quote is of Cherokee origin. (although they did have similar roots http://www.kahonwes.com/iroquois/document1.html)


Mary Ann October 25, 2011 at 6:37 pm

You are correct that this is a direct quote from the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights dated 1948. I was able to find this quote on numerous sites in the Cherokee language but it is obviously not from the Cherokee themselves. I was not able to access the site you listed here. Bummer.

I also agree that the teachings of Christ are reflected in the US constitution. It was not my intent to specify which documents were of more value or closer to Christs teachings. This was a letter to a young grandchild and my intent was to show her what the Cherokee language looked like when written. I just happened upon this particular quote in that alphabet with the attendant translation. Next time I will have to do more thorough research. : ) Thanks for your response.


mara February 10, 2012 at 11:14 am

do you know if there is any cherokee current history


Mary Ann February 10, 2012 at 11:43 am

Hi Mara, I am not sure what you are looking for but there are a few sites you could check out. The first one is the official site of the Cherokee Nation. the others may be of some help. http://www.cherokee.org/AboutTheNation/History/Default.aspx http://www.cherokee-nc.com/index.php?page=56 http://discoverkingsport.com/h-Cherokee-history.shtml


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