Cherokee environment and climate – Native Americans

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A waterfall over some sedimentary rock in a forest: Cherokee environment

Cherokee environment: A waterfall in what is now the south-eastern United States

Where the Cherokee lived

Where people of the Cherokee nation lived, in what is now North and South Carolina and Georgia, was a great place to live. It never got very cold – even in winter it hardly ever snowed – and it never got that hot either. In the summer, it did get pretty humid, as it does now. There was plenty of water, all year round.

Cherokee summer and winter houses
More about the Cherokee
Native American history facts 

Allegheny river and Appalachian mountains

Mostly Cherokee people lived in the pine forests, along the Allegheny river and other smaller rivers, and up in the Appalachian mountains.

Where are the Appalachian mountains?

There were plenty of deer and small animals like rabbits and squirrels to hunt, and lots of fish in the rivers. The Cherokee built fishing weirs – little dams – to create ponds that made it easier for them to catch fish in the rivers. Along the coast, you could gather shellfish like clams and mussels and oysters, and soft-shell crabs, too.

The history of fishing

Cherokee fishing weir: a sort of stone fish trap in a river

Cherokee fishing weir on the Little Tennessee River in Macon County. (Thanks to Ralph Preston)

Climate change and the Cherokee

But the climate didn’t always stay the same. Around 800 AD, there was a global warming period we call the Medieval Warm Period.

What was the Medieval Warm Period?

The weather got warmer than it had been before. Summers were hotter, and it snowed less in the winter. The Iroquois moved further north, and maybe the Cherokee did too.

The Cherokee’s neighbors: the Iroquois

The Little Ice Age

Then around 1300, the earth cooled down again, starting the Little Ice Age. Winters got tougher. The Iroquois moved further south, where they probably got into fights with the Cherokee about land.

What else happened during the Little Ice Age?

Did you find out what you wanted to know about the Cherokee environment? Let us know in the comments!

Learn by doing: a scavenger hunt
More about the Cherokee

Bibliography and further reading about the Cherokee environment:

Cherokee history
North American Environment
More about Native Americans home

By |2018-11-13T08:47:49+00:00August 8th, 2017|Environment, Native American, North America|26 Comments
Cite this page: Carr, K.E. Cherokee environment and climate – Native Americans. Study Guides, August 8, 2017. Web. December 17, 2018.

About the Author:

Dr. Karen Carr is Associate Professor Emerita, Department of History, Portland State University. She holds a doctorate in Classical Art and Archaeology from the University of Michigan. Follow her on Instagram, Pinterest, or Facebook, or buy her book, Vandals to Visigoths.


  1. George Harisson September 23, 2018 at 5:05 pm - Reply

    The atricle was helpful but I would like to know how the Cherokee used factors of their enviornmet to their advantage (e.x. the Appelachains) (Sorry about any misspellings)

  2. austin September 19, 2018 at 1:57 pm - Reply

    thank you it was very helpful but what was the climate hot cold humid???

    • Karen Carr September 19, 2018 at 2:35 pm

      It changed depending on the time of year! You can’t sum up the climate in one word. But yes, it would have been humid in the summer.

  3. unknown September 14, 2018 at 3:34 pm - Reply

    Why doesn’t it have anything about the climate? The only thing it had was about the environment, and I am trying to do homework here.

    • Karen Carr September 15, 2018 at 5:41 am

      Hi! There are several paragraphs about the climate. What was your question? Maybe I can answer it here.

  4. DD August 15, 2018 at 12:44 am - Reply

    I also found this very helpful!
    – DD,

  5. Not telling you April 11, 2018 at 8:45 pm - Reply

    This was a good sight and I am also doing a project on the cherokee tribe

  6. philllip March 14, 2018 at 8:01 am - Reply

    i think this site can be helpful i appreciate the effort you put forth to am doing a project on the Cherokee. this site was helpful thank you

    • Karen Carr March 14, 2018 at 9:03 am

      I’m glad to hear we were able to help you! Best of luck on your project – I’m sure it will be great!

  7. unknown March 12, 2018 at 2:24 pm - Reply

    this doesent give me enough info about the climate

    • Karen Carr March 12, 2018 at 2:29 pm

      What did you want to know? I can try to answer your question here.

  8. aryana February 2, 2018 at 12:36 pm - Reply

    omg this is horrible bleh

    • Karen Carr February 2, 2018 at 10:14 pm

      Sorry you didn’t like it! What should we be doing differently?

  9. Marta Sharta November 19, 2017 at 10:05 am - Reply

    Thank you for the very helpful information, I am doing a research project about the Cherokee tribe and this website is helping me do a lot of my research… all of them are!!!

    😀 Thanks again ~Marta

    • Karen Carr November 20, 2017 at 3:33 pm

      Wow, that’s great! Thanks for writing to let us know, Marta! I’m sure your project will turn out great.

  10. Marta Sharta November 19, 2017 at 10:03 am - Reply

    This is very helpful, thanks!!!

    • Not telling you March 27, 2018 at 7:04 pm

      Verry helpful got a lot of good information

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