Native Americans Day 18: Southeast: Cherokee

Southeast: Cherokee

Now we are in the Southeast with the Cherokee tribe.  Today we did some cooking and wrote a biography.

1. Review:We talked about the Crow tribe in the Great Plains region last time. Today we will move to the Southeast region (show on regional map) and learn about the Cherokee tribe.

2. Map Skills: Compare the regional map to the globe or map today and see what countries or states are in the Southeast region.

3. Discuss: Fill out the Tribes Chart after reading each section. Have the child listen closely to choose what word to put on the chart. Bold type words are good suggestions. After the chart has been filled out let the child color the Southeast region on the blank Native American Groups Map.

  • Habitat: Southeast The Cherokee lived in the mountains and valleys of the southern Appalachian Mountains.

  • Homes: The Cherokee lived in a large, rectangular wood house in the summer. In the winter the family moved to a smaller round, windowless house. They made benches for their homes.The Cherokee lived in villages along the riverbanks. Each village had a council house. A council house was a large, circular, windowless building often built on a mound. The walls were made of saplings woven together then plastered with mud.

  • Dress: The women made clothing from deerskins and plants that were woven into material. The women wore short skirts. The men wore breechcloths, leggings, and moccasins. The men liked to paint and tattoo their bodies. During the winter the Indians wore capes for warmth. These were made from rabbit fur or turkey feathers. The capes were tied over the left shoulder. The clothing was decorated with dyed porcupine quills. The Cherokee also wore jewelry made of bones and teeth.

  • Food: The Cherokee farmed one large garden in which they grew beans, corn, squash, pumpkins, and sunflowers. They also had small individual gardens. The men provided the meat for their families. They used traps, bows and arrows, blowguns, and darts to help kill game. Deer was the most important animal the men hunted. They also hunted for bear. Fishing was also another important skill that was used to get food.

4. Read: If You Lived with the Cherokee by Peter and Connie Roop

5. Comprehension questions:

  • What region did the Cherokee live in? Southeast

  • What kind of homes did the Cherokee build? Rectangular wood house

  • What kind of clothes did the Cherokee wear? Deerskin, short skirts, breechcloth, leggins, paint and moccasins

  • How did the Cherokee get their food? Hunted, fishing and farmed

Southeastern Natives

I copied page 15 in Native Americans A Complete Thematic Unit by Jill Norris for J.  He colored the picture of the Cherokee in their traditional clothing and then wrote 2 things that he has learned about the Cherokee on the bottom of the page.

Corn Meal Cookies (se-lu i-sa u-ga-na-s-da)

(This recipe was found in a book dating back to 1820’s)

Cream together:

  • 3/4 cup margarine
  • 3/4 cup sugarAdd the following ingredients until smooth:
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp. vanillaAdd and mix well:
  • 1 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup cornmeal
  • 1 tsp. baking powered
  • 1/4 tsp. saltOptional:
  • 1/2 cup raisins

Drop dough from tablespoon on a greased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees about 15 minutes until lightly browned. Makes about 1 1/2 dozen.

Sequoyah Biography

Read: Sequoyah the Cherokee Man Who Gave His People Writing by James Rumford


Sequoyah’s mother was Cherokee and his father was a white trader. Sequoyah lived with his mother near the Cherokee village of Taskigi in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee. When Sequoyah went to other villages to trade he saw silversmiths. Sequoyah brought tools home to use in shaping silver. Sequoyah became very good with shaping the silver. He made beautiful knives, spoons, and jewelry.

After Sequoyah’s mother died he wandered from village to village for two years. He finally settled down in Alabama in the village of Coosa. In Coosa Sequoyah married a Cherokee woman. He started working as a blacksmith and a silversmith.

Sequoyah had a dream that he could take each Cherokee word and write it down. Sequoyah felt writing down the Cherokee language was important because the white men were making treaties on paper that the Indians could not read. After a whie Sequoyah’s home filled up with piles of pictures. Sequoyah learned he would have to find an easier way to write. One day while walking with his daughter Ah-yo-ka Sequoyah learned by listening to the birds that words where made up of sounds and that some words had the same sounds.
One day while Sequoyah was walking in the woods with Ah-yo-ka, the Indians set fire to Sequoyah’s cabin. When Sequoyah returned and found his cabin burned he carefully wrote his Cherokee alphabet on a large piece of buckskin. Sequoyah knew he must leave Alabama. He and Ah-yo-ka traveled west to the Oklahoma and Arkansas territory.
Sequoyah built a cabin in the wilderness. He continued to work on his alphabet. When it was completed, the alphabet contained 86 symbols. Sequoyah decided to return to the East and show his completed alphabet to the Tribal Council. When Sequoyah showed the men of the Tribal Council his alphabet they thought that he and Ah-yo-ka were trying to trick them. Sequoyah said he would prove to the men that he was not tricking them. He told the Indians to take Ah-yo-ka to the other side of the village. They could then tell him something to write down. Ah-yo-ka would then come in and read it to the Tribal Council. When Ah-yo-ka returned she read the words and the Tribal Council believed in Sequoyah’s alphabet.
Everyone wanted to learn how to read and write. Sequoyah and Ah-yo-ka spent many months teaching the Indians. After almost all the Cherokees had learned to read and write they started their own newspaper called the Cherokee Phoenix. The Tribal Council gave Sequoyah a silver medal with two crossed pipes carved on it. The symbols showed how Sequoyah had brought Eastern and Western Cherokees together.


A biography is simply the story of a life. Biographies can be just a few sentences long, or they can fill an entire book—or two. They can be very short that tell the basic facts of someone’s life and importance, or they can be longer that include that basic information of course, with a lot more detail, but they also tell a good story.

Biographies are usually about a famous person, but a biography of an ordinary person can tell us a lot about a particular time and place. They are often about historical figures, but they can also be about people still living today. Many biographies are written in chronological order. Others focus on specific topics or accomplishments.

Biographers use primary and secondary sources. Primary sources are things like letters, diaries, or newspaper articles; and secondary sources include other biographies, reference books, or histories that provide information about the subject of the biography.

To write a biography you should:

1. Select a person you are interested in and find out the basic facts of that person’s life. Start with the encyclopedia or almanac.

2. Think about what else you would like to know about the person, and what parts of the life you want to write most about. Some questions you might want to think about include:

  • What makes this person special or interesting?
  • What kind of effect did he or she have on the world? other people?
  • What are the adjectives you would most use to describe the person?
  • Would the world be better or worse if this person hadn’t lived? How and why?

3. Do additional research at your library or on the Internet to find information that helps you answer these questions and tell an interesting story.

4. Write your biography.


Native American Unit Study

Day 1: Circum-Caribbean: Taino

Day 2: Mesoamerica: Maya

Day 3: Mesoamerica: Aztec

Day 4: Southwest: Apache

Day 5: Southwest: Pueblo

Day 6: Southwest: Navajo

Day 7: California: Pomo

Day 8: Great Basin: Shoshone

Day 9: Plateau: Nez Perce

Day 10: Northwest Coast: Chinook

Day 11: Sub Arctic: Cree

Day 12: Arctic: Eskimo (Inuit)

Day 13: Great Plains: Sioux

Day 14: Great Plains: Cheyenne

Day 15: Great Plains: Blackfeet

Day 16: Great Plains: Pawnee

Day 17: Great Plains: Crow

Day 18: Southeast: Cherokee

Day 19: Southeast: Seminoles

Day 20: Northeast Woodland: Iroquois

Day 21: Northeast Woodland: Shawnee

Day 22: Northeast Woodland: Wampanoag

Day 23: Native American: Homes