The Cherokee Today
Today, the Cherokees constitute the largest Indian tribe in the United States. In the 1990 census, 308,132 people identified themselves as Cherokees. Only a fraction of these are federally recognized members of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians in western North Carolina or the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma.
The Eastern Band has approximately 9,800 members who are descendants from approximately 1,000 individuals who avoided forced removal in 1838.The Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma has more than 140,000 members.
Lands presently held by the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians include 56,572.8 acres in five counties of western North Carolina and 76.3 acres in two counties in eastern Tennessee. In North Carolina, tribal holdings include fifty-two tracts or boundaries which are contained in 30 separate bodies of land. Most of the land is in Jackson and Swain counties. A small strip of land in Haywood County and scattered residential tracts are in Graham and Cherokee counties. Possessory title to approximately 80% of tribal land is held by individuals who can transfer land only to other tribal members.