Originally, the Cherokee people inhabited much of the Southeast. Then in 1835, some of the people were deceived into signing a treaty that promised them a better life if they would relocate. That led to the infamous "Trail of Tears," which occurred in 1838-39. The federal government marched most of the Cherokee nation to a reservation in Oklahoma. However, a small remnant refused to go. Nearly 1,000 of them hid in the Smoky Mountains. They became known as the Eastern Band of Cherokees.
Today the Cherokees are the second-largest tribe of Native Americans in the USA. There are around 13,500 Cherokee people living in or around western North Carolina. Few speak the Cherokee language of their ancestors. Schools forced the children to speak English, and their native language began dying out. However, the people are now trying to revive their native tongue. Special classes are offered so that more of them can proudly speak Cherokee.
Today, the reservation has all its educational needs met within its borders. There are elementary, middle, and high schools. Colleges are nearby. Cherokee students go to school to get the same education that is available to students all across America. However, they are not confined to the reservation. The reservation isn't fenced in, and people are free to come and go as they please.