The Qualla Boundary was first surveyed in 1876 by M.S. Temple under the auspices of the United States Land Office. These pieces were embodied in a map published as the "Map of the Qualla Indian reserve".
The Qualla Boundary is not a reservation, but rather a "land trust" supervised by the United States Bureau of Indian Affairs. The land itself is just a fragment of the extensive historical homeland of the Cherokee, and was considered part of the original Cherokee Nation for a time. Many of the original Native American inhabitants had to purchase their own land back after it had been confiscated by the U.S. government.