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Hunter Library
Research Guides
Western Carolina University

Cherokee Studies

A guide for those researching Cherokee history, culture, and language. This guide focuses primarily on the Eastern Band of the Cherokee.

Recommended Reference Books

The following resources will introduce you to key concepts, names, dates, etc. for Cherokee studies. Use them as starting points in your research or to help you refine your topic.

Choose a topic

There are a number of options for finding a good topic. Make sure your final choice is something interesting to you--it makes the whole process more fun.

Option 1: Read what the scholars are writing. This will give you topic ideas and show you just how narrow topics can be. Look at the bibliographies, which likely have a selection of primary and secondary sources! Try this journal:

Option 2: Read a popular website. These are wonderful for interesting topic ideas and the brief, easy-to-read articles provide wonderful background information. Try this one:


Option 3: Browse books. Search for a larger topic such as Cherokee in the Library Catalog and sort by date to see interesting new research.


Option 4: Look at some primary sources.  A letter, diary, personal account, newspaper article, or artifact may inspire topic ideas.

Areas of Interest

Topic Ideas 

The following are topic ideas, arrange by subject. Many of these are too broad for a research project (e.g., Cherokee treaties), but you can search those terms and browse your results for something interesting.  Unless, marked with a *, these topics can be found in books and journals by using the Library Catalog and/or the article search box on the library's homepage. Many topics can be found in several or all of the recommended resources on this guide. Topics with a * may have to be broadened to Native Americans or American Indians or searched in another database.

Start by searching the following topics with: Cherokee and

Anthropology & Archeology 

  • specific sites/digs
  • food/cooking
  • prehistory 



  • pottery
  • jewelry 
  • baskets
  • woodwork
  • Qualla arts and crafts mutual
  • architecture


  • tourism 
  • gaming
  • socioeconomic status 
  • economic conditions
  • industrial parks on reservations


  • Boarding schools
  • Cherokee language 
  • missionary schools
  • seminaries
  • (Language) Immersion Schools
  • tribal colleges (nationwide)

Health & Medicine

  • health care
  • medicine
  • depopulation and history (such as small pox epidemic)
  • health disparities
  • nutrition


  • removal
  • trail of tears
  • Cherokee participation in wars (choose a specific war, such as Civil War, and narrow from there)
  • sovereignty
  • Smoky Mountain National Park
  • the Eastern Band
  • Dawes Roll
  • specific cases such as Cherokee Nation v. Georgia

Language, Communication, and Literature 

  • Cherokee language
  • Cherokee syllabary
  • language immersion schools
  • stories/oral literature
  • myths and legends
  • folklore
  • literature/rhetoric surrounding an event such as removal
  • The Cherokee Phoenix 
  • a specific writer such as: John Rollin Ridge, Robert Conley, Marilou Awiakta.

See also, Cherokee Language Guide.

Performing Arts

  • Dance
  • Drama
  • Unto These Hills Drama
  • Songs
  • Cherokee National Youth Choir
  • Rollie Lyn Riggs (playwright)
  • portrayal of Native Americans in film and TV


  • citizenship disputes
  • land disputes
  • governmental structure of the Cherokee Nation
  • Cherokee nationhood
  • Cherokee chiefs
  • Treaties 
  • Cherokee Nation v. Georgia
  • Legal status

*For current events topics, use local newspapers such as the Cherokee One Feather.

Criminology, Psychology, and Sociology

  • identity
  • gender
  • assimilation 
  • stereotypes
  • social conditions
  • activism
  • gaming
  • legal status
  • criminal justice system within reservations


  • spiritual traditions
  • Rites and ceremonies 
  • Christianity/Missions
  • Moravian missions
  • Cherokee Male and Female Seminaries
  • Religious Revival, 1811-1813/Ghost Dance movement


Science, Technology, Engineering, Math*

  • agriculture
  • geology of archeological sites
  • ethnobotany
  • botany
  • architecture
  • see also, health and medicine

*May need to broaden to Native American rather than Cherokee.

Sports & Recreation

  • Anetso/stickball
  • fishing
  • hunting
  • tourism
  • mascot controversy (Library of Congress calls this Indians as Mascots).