What Did Cherokee People Eat?

by Chris Deziel

Prior to European contact, the Cherokees occupied lands in the American Southeast that included parts of present-day Georgia, North and South Carolina, Virginia, Kentucky and Tennessee. These are fertile lands, and the Cherokees were farmers, but they also hunted and fished. Consequently, they had a complex diet.

Farmers and Hunters

Sunflowers in front of a blue sky.

The Cherokees lived in well established villages and were skilled farmers. The women were responsible for planting and harvesting, and they grew corn, beans, squash and sunflowers. They also picked berries, nuts and fruit. The men were responsible for hunting and fishing. They hunted deer, rabbits, turkeys and other small game. In the spring, they fished in the streams and rivers.

Cherokee Recipes

Roasted rabbit in a frying pan.

The Cherokees had a large number of distinctive recipes, many of which they still use. They made stews from corn, beans, acorns and other vegetables, often adding game meat or poultry. They made breads and biscuits from corn, acorns and beans, as well as a type of flat fry bread from flour to accompany stews and soups. They also ate roasted turkey and roasted rabbit, they fried and seared fish and drank teas made from indigenous herbs and juices of fruits and berries.

About the Author

A love of fundamental mysteries led Chris Deziel to obtain a bachelor's degree in physics and a master's degree in humanities. A prolific carpenter, home renovator and furniture restorer, Deziel has been active in the building and home design trades since 1975. As a landscape builder, he helped establish two gardening companies.

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