As I am of Native American decent, I am a mix of Cherokee and Melungeon assists you to better understand my heritage and of my people.
Once the outstanding Native American group in the Southeast United States was the Cherokee. Soon after 1750 half the tribe died in a small pox epidemic. In 1827 they established themselves as the Cherokee Nation. In 1838 to a land that is now known as Oklahoma the Cherokee had to walk from Georgia. In the Course of the Trail of Tears led by Chief John Ross, thousands of Cherokee died.
The Trail of Tears refers to the route followed by fifteen thousand Cherokee during their 1898 removal and forced march from Georgia to "Indian" Territory in present day Oklahoma.
It was sad to think that the white man could be so bad and forceful that they had to make all my people walk away when they could have lived in serenity with them and not against them.
In 1450, maybe, could have been the first encounter of a Cherokee. How long they have been around is still a mystery.
Sequoyah aka George Gist, a North Georgia notable developed the Cherokee alphabet.
Melungeons might be of black and native heritage. No one really knows, but it could be possible. The Melungeons is a native branch that could have settled earlier or possibly earlier than 1567. It is said that they are descendants of early Spanish and Portuguese explores who made settlements in Georgia and the Carolina's prior to the historic Jamestown establishments of 1567 or 1607. Popular traits are dark skin and blue eyes.
The reason that not all that much is known about Melungeons because, for the most part, they hid out in caves to escape the white man. They were also declared a free race until the white people wanted the land they were on and they just took it driving them farther into the caves where they dwelled while the trail of tears was going on. Most Melungeons can be found in the Appalachian Mountains, Tennessee, Georgia and other areas of the national Appalachian forest.
As I have found out a lot of my heritage it sickens me to think how bad the white man treated the first comers and the ones that helped them survive. But I guess that the pain of our loss may run deep, but they have still lost from the spirit that they cannot train or force to obey their rules. As I hear the fallen brothers and sisters of the Native Americans' voices in the wind, that it whispers, I am blessed to hear the children's laughter's and the elder's knowledge.