Cherokee is a sovereign nation, meaning it has its own laws, elections, government, institutions, and the like. Though it certainly has relationships with the United States federal government and the North Carolina state government that are vitally important, students and the general population may be interested to know that the Cherokees are self-governed and autonomous.

Located in Cherokee, North Carolina, the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians were once part of a much larger Cherokee Nation population. However, when the Trail of Tears was mandated, and forced removal and relocation were directed by the US government and then President Andrew Jackson, the Cherokee Tribe became divided into what is known today as the Cherokee Nation and United Kituwah Band, located in Oklahoma, and the Eastern Band, made up of those who remained and rebuilt within North Carolina’s Qualla Boundary (sometimes called the Cherokee Indian Reservation).

Chief’s Office Contact List

Michell Hicks, Principal Chief
88 Council House Loop
Cherokee, NC 28719
Principal Chief Profile Page

The Eastern Band has always been led by vision and strength. Here is a listing of all the Principal Chiefs in the history of the EBCI:


William Holland Thomas
Salonitah (or Flying Squirrel)
Lloyd R. Welch
Nimrod Jarrett Smith
Stillwell Saunooke
Andy Standing Deer
Jesse Reed
Bird Saloloneeta (or Young Squirrel)
John Goins Welch
Joseph A. Saunooke
David Blythe
Sampson Owl
John A. Tahquette
Jarret Blythe
Henry Bradley
Osley Bird Saunooke
Walter Jackson
Noah Powell
John A. Crowe
Robert S. Youngdeer
Jonathan L. Taylor
Gerard Parker
Joyce Dugan
Leon Jones
Michell Hicks
Patrick Lambert
Richard Sneed