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People of America Science for Kids
Native American History Lesson For Kids - Cherokee Flag

Cherokee History

By Sun Kyu Bae | Published April 29, 2009 | Lessons | print printer friendly version

The Cherokee lived in the Southeast Woodlands. Find out what a wattle and daub house looks like!

This lesson falls under our homeschool curriculum on Native American History. We recommend that this lesson be taught after the lesson on Iroquois Native Americans Part II.

Summary Description

This is the third in a series of nine lessons that introduces the student to Native American history.

Learning Objectives

To have the student learn a few key facts about the Cherokee history and culture.

Approximate Time for Lesson

50 minutes

Suggested Maturity Level for Instruction

Kids ages 6-8

Student should be able to read simple words and perform simple addition and subtraction. Also, student should be able to sit still and engage in one-on-one conversation.


Native Languages of the Americans, Laura Redish and Orrin Lewis

Materials Needed


Make sure you have materials open, printed and/or available prior to beginning the lesson.


Introduction (5 minutes)

  1. Teacher: Last lesson we learned about the Iroquois Native Americans. What do you remember about the Iroquois? [Engage the Student in conversation].

  2. Teacher: Great. Today, we’re going to learn about another group of Native Americans called the “Cherokee”. The Cherokee are actually relatives of the Iroquois, although both groups fought against each other in the past.

  3. Teacher: You’re going to learn today that there were many things about how the Cherokee live that were similar to how Iroquois lived, but there are some neat differences also. So are you are you ready to learn about the Cherokee?! [Get positive response from Student and begin lesson].

Lesson (40 minutes)

  1. Teacher: So, just like last time, let’s learn how to pronounce “Cherokee”. It’s pronounced, “chair-uh-kee”. Can you say that? [Have the Student practice several times].

  2. Teacher: Good. The name “Cherokee” means “speakers of another language”, so I think someone who wasn’t Cherokee gave them that name.

  3. Teacher: Like I said earlier, the Cherokee were relatives of the Iroquois, but the Cherokee lived here [point to the Southeastern United States on the map] in this corner of the United States.

  4. Teacher: Like the Iroquois, the Cherokee fed themselves mostly by farming; in fact they were excellent farmers. They farmed corn, beans, squash and wild berries. Also, they hunted deer and fished in the rivers. Usually, the women were in charge of farming and the men were in charge of hunting and fishing.

  5. Teacher: One thing different than the Iroquois was that the Cherokee did not live in longhouses. Instead, they built homes out of wood and long grass that looked like pyramids. These homes were called wattle and daub houses. Here’s a picture of some wattle and daub houses. [Show Student picture of wattle and daub houses].

  6. Teacher: The Cherokee lived in villages usually near rivers and like the Iroquois, they did not move around much. Each village was made up of about 60-70 wattle and daub houses.

  7. Teacher: Clothes were also similar to the Iroquois. But the Cherokee men did not wear feathers on their heads like the Iroquois (remember the gustoweh you made in the last lesson?). Instead, the men would shave off all their hair on the sides except a straight line through the middle all long the top of the head, this hairstyle is called a “scalplock” – have you seen this hairstyle before? [Engage the Student in conversation].

  8. Teacher: And, the men would sometimes put a decoration in their scalplock called a “porcupine roach”. Here’s a picture of a Cherokee man wearing a porcupine roach. [Show Student picture of porcupine roach].

  9. Teacher: Weapons used were also same as the Iroquois – bow and arrows, spears, clubs. Some Cherokee, however, also used blowguns, which were hollow wooden tubes used to blow poison darts out of.

  10. Teacher: Also, the things that women were in charge of and men were in charge of were the same as the Iroquois. The men were in charge of hunting, trading and war while the women were in charge of farming, family and the land.

  11. Teacher: One of the most important things that the Cherokee did was to accept how Europeans lived, so much that the Cherokee started to wear European clothes and even create a way to make decisions that was similar to how the Europeans made decisions. The Cherokee made this change faster than any other Native American people. In fact, a Cherokee named Sequoya became famous for creating the writing system for the Cherokee, which they did not have at the time. Sequoya got the idea of creating a writing system from seeing how the Europeans could understand each other just by reading words on paper.

  12. Teacher: The Cherokee also helped the Americans fight the British in a war called, the War of 1812.

  13. Teacher: But sadly, it didn’t seem like any of that mattered because one day the Americans found gold in the state of Georgia [point to Georgia on the map], where some of Cherokee lived at that time. Well, even though some famous Americans stood up for the Cherokee, including even the Supreme Court, which is the final decider of what is fair and not fair in America, the Cherokee were forced to move out of their lands so that the Americans could have the gold for themselves.

  14. Teacher: This is one of the saddest moments in Cherokee history, when the Americans made the Cherokee leave their homes without even any of their stuff like clothes, food, or water. The Cherokee had to leave with only the things they wore and had on themselves. They had to walk farther west. The journey was so long that 4,000 Cherokee died along the way. This journey west was called the Trail of Tears.

  15. Teacher: The Trail of Tears led the Cherokee to the State of Oklahoma [point to the Oklahoma on the map]. Because the Americans knew that they had treated the Cherokee unfairly, the Americans set up reservations for the Cherokee, just like they did for the Iroquois.

  16. Teacher: OK – time for review. Get in front of the class. [Have the Student stand in front of you (consider inviting other members of the family also to set the stage) and ask her the following:

    1. Where did the Cherokee live in the United States? In the Southeastern part of the country.

    2. What kinds of homes did the Cherokee live in? Waddle and Daub houses

    3. How did the Cherokee get their food? Farming, hunting and fishing (farming mostly)

    4. What was the Trail of Tears? A forced journey that made the Cherokee leave their homes for the State of Oklahoma.

Teacher reviews any questions that the Student missed].

Wrap Up (5 minutes)

Teacher: [Clapping] You did GREAT! Wonderful job! Are there any questions that you have regarding the Cherokee Native Americans? [Engage in conversation with the Student and resolve further questions by researching the Internet].

Next Week's Lesson: Cheyenne Native Americans >>

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