Cherokee Indians and Hernando de Soto

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Early Cherokee Native American Indian History 1500's

Ancient American Indian Civilizations

The Spanish (Hernando de Soto and an army of 1000 men) journeyed from Florida (around today's Panama City) up through the area around modern day Columbia, South Carolina, westward to Cherokee land near Union, SC. through Spartanburg, SC and northward towards western North Carolina.

  1. The Spaniards explored the Asheville North Carolina area in the early 1500's searching for gold.
  2. Hernando de Soto made contact with the Cherokee Indians of the North Carolina area at Tryon, North Carolina or Xuala in the Cherokee language, Saluda in English and means the bushy place. This area appears to be "bushy" when viewed from the mountains above Tryon because the area is covered with a very bushy scrub oak instead of the usual tall trees of the mountains..
  3. The Cherokee Indians of Tryon gave de Soto and his men provisions.
  4. Hernando de Soto did not stay over 2 days in Tryon.
  5. Next, Hernando de Soto and his army went to Gauxuile or Asheville
  6. A public walk existed all around the perimeter of Asheville. Cherokee Native American Tribes met in Asheville to race. Jua Gauxule in Cherokee means "The Place where they Race"
  7. From Asheville, the Spaniards went to an aok grove alongside a river which was the Pigeon River at Canton.
  8. The next day, the Spaniards passed through Canasoga (In the Cherokee language means "against the slopes" or Bethel Church and stayed the night in a broad flat valley (Hazelwood west of Waynesville.)
  9. The Spaniards crossed the Blue Ridge Mountains and stayed the night next to a swamp (above Sylvia)
  10. From here, the Spaniards went to an area just below today's Cherokee Indian Reservation.
  11. The next day, the Spaniards camped near Bryson City.
  12. Then the Spaniards crossed the little Tennessee River where it intersects the Tuskasegee River.
  13. Then the Spaniards entered Chiaha located on an Island in the Little Tennessee River.
  14. From here they journeyed westward towards the Mississippi River through Arkansas. They crossed the Mississippi twice, where Hernando de Soto died from fever.
  15. Very few of the Spaniards survived this exploration trip.

Reference: Ho, Cynthia, Sawin, Sheryl, Spellman, W.M., The Asheville Reader: The Medieval and Renaissance World, Pegasus Press, Asheville, NC, 1998. pgs.395 -396.