Cherokee Office of Economic Development · Cherokee by Choice.

Honoring Cherokee County’s Past for American Indian Heritage Month

November 22, 2023

The Cherokee Office of Economic Development (COED) is honoring American Indian Heritage Month by acknowledging and reflecting on its Native American origins and history.

American Indian Heritage Month is celebrated each November in the United States. This month is particularly meaningful to Cherokee County because of the rich native history that impacts our communities to this day.

The very name of the county, Cherokee, is a testament to the long history of this area. Historians speculate that early Native Americans lived in this region as early as 11,000 years ago.

Following the North Georgia gold rush in 1828, Cherokee County was formed using land from the Cherokee Nation. The original Cherokee County incorporated all land west of the Chattahoochee River and north of Carroll County but was later divided into 10 different counties.

American Indian influences are still engrained in many of Cherokee’s modern names.

Native American Battle of Taliwa

At the very heart of Cherokee County runs the Etowah River – named after the Cherokee settlement on its banks. Despite the Cherokee occupation of this area, the name Etowah is speculated to have origins with the Creek-Muskogee people, meaning simply “town or trail crossing.”

Cherokee’s City of Ball Ground has played a large role in the changing of hands between the Creek and Cherokee nations. Named for the iconic traditional game of stick ball, the land served as a place for early Native Americans to meet, play and battle using stick ball.

The legendary Battle of Taliwa took place in what is now Ball Ground around 1755. The Battle of Taliwa is often regarded as the fiercest and most decisive battle in the long war between the Cherokee and Creek nations during the mid-1700s. Read more here.

The City of Waleska also has a deeply native history. Waleska is named after the daughter of a native chief, called Warluskee. Following Warluskee and her people’s removal on the Trail of Tears, Mr. and Mrs. Lewis W. Reinhardt named their settlement in their friend’s honor.

Today, Cherokee County strives to build upon and honor its American Indian heritage.

Funk Heritage Native American center

In line with the actions of its founders, Reinhardt University in Waleska pays homage to its Native American roots with the Funk Heritage Center.

As Georgia’s Official Frontier and Southeastern Indian Interpretive Center, the Funk Heritage Center serves to educate, remember and honor the Native American heritage of this area. The Bennett History Museum houses artifacts excavated right here in Cherokee County.

The Funk Heritage Center is open to the public Tuesday through Saturday. Learn more here.

The City of Ball Ground also honors its origins with an annual stick ball demonstration, held in late spring. The city partnered with the Georgia Swarm Pro Lacrosse Team and the Eastern Band of Cherokees to bring the traditional sport back to Ball Ground.

Cherokee County is rich in tradition and American Indian heritage. We are striving each day to incorporate and honor our past as we move forward with our future!

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