The Cherokee are a Native American tribe indigenous to the Southeastern United States (principally Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina). They speak an Iroquoian language. In the 19th century, historians and ethnographers recorded their oral tradition that told of the tribe having migrated south in ancient times from the Great Lakes region, where other Iroquoian-speaking peoples were.
By the 19th century, European settlers in the United States called the Cherokee one of the "Five Civilized Tribes" because they had adopted numerous cultural and technological practices of European American settlers. The Cherokee were one of the first, if not the first, major non-European ethnic group to become U.S. citizens. Article 8 in the 1817 treaty with the Cherokee stated Cherokees may wish to become citizens of the United States. According to the 2010 U.S. Census, the Cherokee Nation has more than 314,000 members, the largest of the 566 federally recognized Native American tribes in the United States. In addition, numerous groups claiming Cherokee lineage, some of which are state-recognized, have members who are among those 819,000-plus people claiming Cherokee ancestry on the US census.
Of the three federally recognized Cherokee tribes, the Cherokee Nation and the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians (UKB) have headquarters in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. The UKB are mostly descendants of "Old Settlers," Cherokee who migrated to Arkansas and Oklahoma about 1817. They are related to the Cherokee who were forcibly relocated there in the 1830s under the Indian Removal Act. The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians is on the Qualla Boundary in western North Carolina, and are descendants of those who resisted or avoided relocation. In addition, there are numerous Cherokee heritage groups throughout the United states, such as the satellite communities sponsored by the Cherokee Nation.