The name of this Nation (Tribe) shall be the Appalachian Cherokee Nation (ACN) Tribe , of Winchester, Virginia. Our history goes back to the Great Cherokee Chief, Aaron RedBird Brock, born Dec 8, 1721 in Virginia. RedBird Creek in Clay County Kentucky, then Virginia was named after him. Chief RedBird (Tatsu'hwa), is the Son of Chief Great Eagle, Grandson of Moytoy and the Great Grandson of Amato. The Cherokee dwelled in the Holston River Valley, Clinch River Valley and the Appalachian mountains. To save themselves from being extracted and becoming part of the Trail of Tears, the Cherokees subsequently hid in the surrounding mountains primarily known today as Russell, Scott, Tazewell, Wise and Washington Counties of Virginia, Harding, Leslie and Clay counties of Kentucky, Graham County, Carter County and Johnson County of Tennessee. In 1997 we became Incorporated first as the Cherokee Indian nation of the Appalachians Tribe, then amended to our present name, The Appalachian Cherokee Nation, Inc and became a Tax Exempt non-profit organization according to the requirements of the IRS Code 501(c) (3) which we will maintain as one means of fulfilling our mission
The "Appalachian Cherokee Nation",is one of over 200 non-federally recognized Indian tribes in the United States. Our members reside in the states of Kentucky, Indiana, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Texas, Mississippi, Florida, Tennessee, Wisconsin, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania Virginia, and West Virginia. We are a proud and sovereign, indigenous people with great respect and honor.Our people have always been a tribe of people who have both lived off and respected the land. We believe that the Creator gave us Grandfather Sky and Grandmother Earth and that all the creatures were placed here for a reason. We hold hands, go in one direction, all communicating in one accord, singing one song, saying one prayer, and walking the next decades together with one voice. Our survival and the survival of future generations must continue.
As with many other First Nations people, we are still trying to gather back to the tribe the many people whose heritage was hidden from them by their ancestors, or who were taught to deny who they were as a means of survival or so that their children would not have to go to substandard schools.The Cherokee Indians had many Native American villages spread out along the Tennessee River which runs through the Appalachian Mountains and owned territory that stretched from Virginia to the southeastern part of the United States. The Cherokee are considered to be part of the later Pisgah Phase of Southern Appalachia, which lasted from circa 1000 to 1500 and the original home of the Cherokee, linguistically a branch of the Iroquois, was the southern Appalachian Mountains, including western North and South Carolina, northern Georgia and Alabama, and southwest Virginia. Our people are a Native American people who historically settled in the Southeastern United States. Linguistically, we are part of the Iroquoian language. A map of the Indian Territories in Virginia for 1600 showed our people living in the southwestern location of Virginia. Early explorers traded with the Cherokee people and in the 1500s, Hernando de Soto acknowledged the Cherokee Indians existed during his exploration trips. During the Colonial Period, General George Washington enlisted their services to help fight against the French. Indian villages were established along the southern border of Virginia and in 1677, a treaty between Virginia and the Indians was signed. This treaty outlined the Articles of Peace between Lord Charles II, endorsed and was concurred upon by the Honorable Herbert Jeffreys, Esq'r Governour and Captain Generall of his Majesties. Virginia traders developed a small-scale trading system with the Cherokee before the end of the 17th century; the earliest recorded Virginia trader to visit the Cherokee was an individual named "Dority". There were also several treaties signed which resulted in land being taken away from the Cherokee. The amount of land was not measured in acres, rather square miles. In the 1820s to 1830s, the Cherokee were rounded up and force marched to the west. Some Cherokee resisted and ran up into the mountains to hide and survive; an incident that has both helped and haunted the future of the Cherokee people. Those who were captured became part of one of the saddest episodes of our history, attended to by the United States Government. The federal government forcibly removed approximately 16,000 Cherokee, 21,000 Muscogee (Creek) 9,000 Choctaw, 6,000 Chickasaw and 4,000 Seminole. Men, women, and children were herded into makeshift forts with minimal facilities and food, then forced to march the thousand mile trek. The route of travel was either by water or land, both routes presented harsh conditions. These routes they traversed and traveled became known as "The Trail of Tears" or, as a direct translation from Cherokee, "The Trail Where They Cried" ("Nunna daul Tsuny").
In the early 1900s, not only the Cherokee, but other Indian people from Virginia would be subjected to yet another form of racial discrimination. During the reign of Dr. Walter Plecker, the first director for the Virginia Department of Vital Statistics, a system of eradicating was being instituted, in the form of birth certificates. Dr. Plecker tried to eradicate, not only the Cherokee, but all Indians in the State of Virginia. He mandated the birth certificates label a person either black or white, no exceptions. It was discovered that some census records listed Cherokee people as black and not Cherokee or Indian. Dr. Plecker’s decision to impact the Indian population was reversed in 1997 when, Virginia Governor George Allen signed a bill making it easier for Indians to apply for a corrected birth certificate. Even with this bill passage, the damage Dr. Plecker administered was done and is still being felt today.The leadership of our tribe has strived to keep and promote the values we hold true to our hearts. The lives of Chief Raymond Lonewolf Couch and Grandmother Mary Duty are benchmarked examples how the Cherokee people should live their lives. Chief Lonewolf Couch ensured the stories and messages from his father, grandfather, and great grandfather were remembered and passed down to the tribal members. Grandmother Duty never turned anyone away who needed help. Her doors and arms were opened as she welcomed people into her home regardless of the color of their skin. Her strong spiritual messages to those she contacted were from her heart and were handed down in a message by the Great Spirit. Her advocacy for those in need earned her the respect of both superiors and community leaders. Both of these tribal leaders had a yearning to see the indigenous Cherokee of Southwest Virginia be taken care of. They made trips to take food, clothing, and other needed supplies to the land where our ancestors lived and survived. Their leadership and teachings to this tribe were priceless and will never be surpassed. They affected so many lives and each walked the red road until the Creator called them home. Today, it is important our children are taught the heritage and culture that Chief Lonewolf Couch and Grandmother Duty lived. In the words of Chief Lonewolf Couch, I heard many times, “Grandfather, grant us a moccasin trail that our children will be proud to follow.”