According to Cherokee legend, the Moon-Eyed People were a race of small beings, with a distinct appearance and behavior, who inhabited the forests and underground caves of the Appalachian Mountains.

They were never described as supernatural beings, but as another group of small humanoid beings, with pale, perfectly white skin and large blue eyes that were very sensitive to light and, for this reason, strictly nocturnal.


“The Cheeroke tell us that when they first came to the place they now inhabit, they found it possessed by certain ‘moon-eyed people,’ who could not see by day,” wrote American botanist and educator Benjamin Smith Burton in 1797.

Other people who have had contact with the Cherokee have reported hearing about the Moon-Eyed People as being the original inhabitants of the southeastern region of North America until the arrival of the Cherokee.

At Fort Mountain in Georgia, there are remains of an ancient stone fort. A wall 270 meters long and more than 2 meters high, built between the years 400 and 500 AD, suggests that there would have been a skilled civilization before the Cherokee in the region.

The Moon-Eyed People would have built these fortifications throughout their territory to prevent the entry of invaders who would threaten their domain. Axes, hoes and other metal utensils were found in these fortifications.

Ruins of one of the buildings in Fort Mountain.

According to legend, the Creek tribe came from the South and invaded the territory of the Moon-Eyed People, attacked and expelled them from their caves. The small, fair-skinned people fled west and were never seen again.

Another version of the story said that it was the Cherokee themselves who fought the war against the Moon-Eyed People and after the battle a treaty was made allowing them to flee the area in peace.

In 1902, writer James Mooney published the book “Myths of the Cherokee”, where he collected similar stories from elder Cherokee that recall traditions of people who were “very small and perfectly white” who lived north of the Hiwassee River when the Cherokee first arrived in the area and later fled west.

However, one of the best sources for the story comes from one of Tennessee’s first governors, John Sevier. During his time as governor, many areas of Appalachia were part of the Cherokee Nation and John Sevier visited Fort Mountain in 1782 and there he met Oconostota, a Cherokee chief who was 90 years old.

Oconostota repeated the story told to him by his ancestors: “Long ago, little white men crossed the great waters and landed near the mouth of the Alabama River, near Mobile, and it was they who erected these buildings.”

Sculpture of the Moon-Eyed People.

The Moon-Eyed People also appear in stories of encounters with other Native American tribes. Although their nature could vary from tribe to tribe, they are generally viewed with respect and admiration.

In some accounts, the Moon-Eyed People are said to have emerged from primordial darkness, while in others, they are descended from celestial beings.

The Zuni people have a creation story that chronicles the Moon-Eyed People as the first beings to inhabit the Earth, guiding humanity in its early stages.

Other accounts describe them as benevolent beings, sharing their wisdom and offering guidance to those who sought their help. In other tales, they are portrayed as enigmatic figures, observing human interactions from the shadows and intervening only when necessary.