Cherokee Chiefs Part I & II

Part I
Cherokee Leaders 1760-1838

Before embarking upon aspects of the various factions or divisions within the Cherokee Nation, there are several tribal leaders that play key roles in the defense of their nation in the east and those who saw the floodtide of white encroachment, removed west of the Mississippi River to live their lives in peace, at least they hoped they would.

Before America, the Cherokees interacted with Europeans, primarily from Great Britian. In 1730, the British were north of the Cherokee Nation east, but were making forays into the domain. To the south was the Muscogee or Creeks in Georgia and Alabama. Farther south was Spanish held Florida.

West of the Mississppi by 1730, France was gaining territory expanding into Illinois, Ohio and encroaching upon Missouri coming up against Spain in it’s vast domain from west of the Mississippi clear to the Pacific.

It was therefore extremely beneficial to England to gain the trust of the Cherokee people because of the geo-political dynamics present in the early years of the 18th century.

Below are some of the principal leaders of the Cherokee Nation who were thrust into the turbulent colonial jockeying for favor and land all of which was detrimental to the Cherokee people. The leaders listed here is taken from Dr. Emmet Starr’s “History of the Cherokee”. Dr. Starr was himself a Cherokee, a historian of his tribe and a genealogist. His papers can be found in the Research Division at the Oklahoma Historical Society. And, before you ask, no they are not on line.

The earliest record of Principal Chiefs of the nation while in the east are;

Matoy – 1730-1760

Attacullaculla – 1760-1775

Oconostota- 1775-1780

Hanging Maw – 1780

Old Tassell – 1780 -1788

Little Turkey – 1788-1801

Black Fox or Enoli – 1801-1811

Pathkiller – 1811-1827

One must also be aware that there were other tribal chiefs who governed that overlapped the chiefs mentioned above. To fully understand who those persons were and their roles while in the east, it is recommended reading both Starr’s work mentioned earlier and a more recent history written by Stan Hoig. As an example, Black Fox and Pathkiller were leaders in the east, but migrated west and were still considered tribal leaders after moving.

Another history about this time period was written by Mary Evelyn Rogers entitled: “A Brief History of the Cherokees”. This work was not widely published with slightly over 400 copies being produced by Gateway Press in 1986. The value of Ms. Roger’s work is that she places side-by-side by year what was taking place in the Cherokee Nation east, west and during it’s brief existence the Cherokees in Texas. Ms. Roger’s efforts in examining primary sources along with secondary sources is a valuable resource to understand what was transpiring both east and west. In other words, both Starr’s and Hoig’s works provide the context of events, Ms. Roger’s provides the timeline for those events.

To my knowledge, Ms. Roger’s work is not on line either. Thus, for one to conduct research, one must contact the institutions that house these and other resources that will hopefully guide you to find your ancestor(s).

Part II

Earlier I listed some of the principal headmen of the Cherokee Nation east of the Mississippi River. Some of the same leaders migrated west during the early years of the nineteenth century in order to avoid cultural conflict with incessant white settlers. Some of the first chiefs to relocate west into northwest Arkansas are as follows;

The Bowl or Captain Bowles,   1808 – 1813

Takatoka,   1813 – 1818

Tahontiskee,   1818

John Jolly,        1818-1838

John Looney,    1838-1839

John Brown,       Spring 1839

John Looney,       Summer 1839.

Please note that this was extracted from Dr. Emmett Starr’s work The History of the Cherokees.

Soon each will be confronted with duplicitious commissioners representing the United States. The most vile of all regarding the loss of tribal homeland at the hands of whites will be Andrew Jackson, president.
by William Welge

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