Great Smoky Mountains National Park
|Cades Cove was first settled by Europeans in
1818. Many of the first settlers migrated down from the Watauga Settlement in northeast
Tennessee. Before the arrival of whites, Cades Cove had been part of Cherokee Indian
territory for at least several thousand years. The Cherokee called the cove Tsiyahi or
"place of the river otter". In addition to the river otters, there were elk and
bison here, both of which were extirpated before the first permanent white settlement in
1818. Although the Cherokee never lived in the cove, they often hunted here, as evidenced
by the many arrowheads found in the west end of the cove.
Before the American Revolution, the Cherokee had been hostile to settlers trying to move near the Smokies. But after the defeat of their allies the English, they realized they would have to make peace with the new American government. Except for a few renegade Cherokee who refused to accept the peace, most of the tribe put down their weapons and accepted the existence of the new nation. After the new settlement the Cherokee adapted very well to the white man's way of life. They built log houses (though, like most Native Americans, they never really lived in "tee-pees" to begin with) they went to school, and by 1820 they even had their own alphabet. What is suprising to so many historians is how fast the Cherokee picked up the new way of life. The 1830 census actually shows that the Cherokee owned over 1000 slaves who worked on Cherokee plantations.
Despite the assimilation of the Cherokee, many Americans remained convinced that all Native Americans in the East should surrender all of their land and be forced to move west of the Mississippi. The discovery of gold on Cherokee lands, along with the election of Andrew Jackson as President, finally led to what has been called the "Trail of Tears". More than 14,000 Cherokee were moved out of the Southern Appalachians and over 4,000 perished on the long cold route to Oklahoma. However, a few daring individuals hid out in the remote areas of the Smokies and eventually were "allowed" to start their own reservation.
|Email Steve Speer at: [email protected]|