National Geographic magazine says this is a common myth, so who am I to differ? I had never heard it expressed, but then again, maybe that’s because I’ve long known the truth, living in the southeastern United States among several different Native American tribes.
After the passage of the shameful Indian Removal Act in 1830, all remaining southeastern tribes were supposed to be rounded up and herded west, a process that began in 1831 and ended in 1838-39 with the Cherokees and the infamous Train of Tears. This was a pitiful forced march that killed about a quarter of the people. A small number of Native Americans remained in the southeast, either because they were overlooked or because they evaded capture during the round-up. These people stayed on their ancestral homelands. They include some Choctaw in Mississippi, the Seminole in Florida, some Creek in Alabama, and some Cherokee in Tennessee and North Carolina. (See http://www.cherokee-nc.com/ for a welcome to Cherokee, NC, from the chief of the Eastern Band of the Cherokee.)