1820 to 1824 + Removal over Nantahala Mountains
By 1824, the Cherokees who were granted citizenship and lands in what is now Swain, Macon and Jackson County, North Carolina, were stripped of their citizenship rights and their reserves of lands with their houses, orchards, croplands and in many cases their actual cattle and horses which were stolen by renegade whites from Georgia pillaging the landscape during this land rush.
North Carolina, defying and trampling on the Treaties of 1817 and 1819, subdivided and auctioned off the Cherokee’s lands and houses. With nowhere to go, most of those within the named counties crossed over the new Indian boundary line that twisted and turned from north to south along the serpentine backbone of the Nantahala Mountains to the Valley Towns on Shooting Creek, the Hiwassee and Valley Rivers. The old settlements and towns swelled with the Middle and Out Town refugees into their last stronghold from a vast terrritorial claim before the 1838 Removal crisis.
The map at left defines the final Cherokee land that remained in western North Carolina, north Georgia and Tennessee from 1819 until the Removal of 1838.
Permanent, natural boundaries were generally used to divide political territory. The Nantahala Mountains divided the waters of the Little Tennessee River from the waters of the Hiwassee and Valley Rivers. Hence, there could be no dispute as to where the Indian boundary line was.
Looking west from Burningtown, the Nantahala Range was the ever-fluid western boundary of the Cherokee nation before Removal. Tellico Gap is the lowest point in the photo.