Cherokee Nation Chiefs in Early Times (partial list)
These Chiefs served in the Cherokee Nation East. Historically, there were tribal town chiefs, and then Principal Chiefs whose jurisdiction encompassed all tribal towns and districts. The following were considered Principal Chiefs. Cherokee Language
Moytoy, 1730 1760
Atakullakulla, 1760 1775
Oconostota, 1775 1780
Hanging Maw, 1780 1792
Little Turkey, 1792 1801
Black Fox, 1801 1811
Pathkiller, 1811 1827
Charles Renatus Hicks, 1827
William Hicks, 1827 1828
John Ross 1828 1839 (prior to being elected under the 1839 Constitution in Indian Territory)
As voted by the Cherokee People under the Cherokee Nation constitutions.
John Ross, 1827 1866
William P. Ross, 1866 1867
Lewis Downing, 1867 1872
William P. Ross, 1872 1875
Charles Thompson, 1875 1879
Dennis Bushyhead, 1879 1888
Joel Bryan Mayes, 1888 1891
Colonel Johnson Harris, 1891 1895
Samuel H. Mayes, 1895 1899
T.M. Buffington, 1899 1903
William C. Rogers, 1903 1907 (served until 1917 in various capacities)
W.W. Keeler, 1971-1975 (served since 1949, as named by U.S. Presidents. . . see "Chief for a Day" page)
Ross Swimmer, 1975-1985
Wilma Mankiller, 1985-1995
Joe Byrd, 1995-1999
Chadwick Corntassel Smith, current, elected 1999
LONG ISLAND , sacred island of nation of cherokee . National registerd landmark.
Chief Attacullaculla. Chief Ostenaco. Chief Dragging Canoe, Chief Cunne Shote 'Old Hop',
Chief Moytoy father of Chief Ostenaco and uncle of Attacullaculla and Willenawah.
Attacullaculla The Little Carpenter, called White Owl. Greatest politician of Cherokee Nation. Great Orator. Called little carpenter by frontiersmen for his skill as diplomat. Part of treaties. Sent to England with King George II. Negotiator at most treaties of land cessions with British and later the Americans. In 1777 came to Long Island with 30 warriors. He said he had 500 warriors ready to assist Virginia and NC to fight the British or hostile Indians. He was the father of Chief Dragging Canoe whom he greatly opposed. He and Princess Nancy Ward were the Cherokee's most important advocates of peace wit the white men. Natural death revered by his nation , famous and wise old counselor.
Holston river called Hogohegee.
The Island Road, 1761 from Chilhowie to Kingsport, first wagon road. "The military road from Chilhowee VA to present day Kingsport was completed September 1761 by Major Andrew Lewis under the command of Col. Adam Stephen. Upon reaching the Long Island of the Holston, the militia erected Fort Robinson to treat for peace with the Cherokees."
Cherokees: 25,000 in early 1700's. Called the Principal People. From towns made long hunts, take families with them. Settlin in base camps. One abandoned camp found 1750 by Dr. Thomas Waler when he saw log houses located below Rotherwood Bridge.
Myth Keeper taught the history and religious beliefs. Told the Long Island was a sacred place where "talk-talks" made peace with tribes who infringed on their hunting grounds. The heritae of warriors forced them to make war to satisfy their grievances in revenge, real or imaginary, and never for conquest. This resulted in personal and bloody vengeance on the offecnder whether Indian, white or black. To forgive an act of violence was considered weak and shameful, and revenge was the noble virtue. Merciless in battle and torture was a common treatment of prisoners taken in war.
People of honor. Personally independent and willful, but no enterprise was possible unless agreed by the majority of the people.
Worshiped on supreme being called Yowa or Great Spirit. Yowa was a unity three spiritual beings called Te Elder Fires Above. The smoke of the sacred fire was used as prayer, the messenger to the Yowa and to the people.
White man came, Cherokee millions oa acres in Tn ga the carolinas va and kentucky. claimed as hunting grounds but friendly Indian tribes allowed hunting rights.
80 towns in four large groups. Middle Towns in sw NC on headwater of Tuckaseegee and Little Tennessee Rivers.
Valley Towns in NC along the Nottely and upper Hiwassee rivers.
Lower Towns in north GA on Tugaloo River and SC on KEowee River.
Overhill Towns in Tennessee primarily on the Little Tenn River and Tellico and middle portions of Hiwasee rivers.
1730 capital of Cherokee Nation Chota, the Overhill Town in Tennessee. Towns size 100-200 houses to low as 12. Open square in center of each town used for dances, games ceremonies. On west side of squeare stood the council house with houses and gardens grouped around it.
Each town: Governed by Peace Chief who wore white roes
War Chief wore red robes.
Oath to never go to war without just cause and never to shed the blood of infants, women old men, or any person unable to defend himself.
'Strike the war club' end 'bury the hatchet.'
Seven clans in nation: Deer, wolf, wild potatoes, paint, blue, long hair, bird.
Extraordinary respect for women. Get married, move to woman's clan. Woman from each clan for the womans council who could override the authority of the chiefs. The head of the womans council called Beloved Woman of the entire nation.
Her voice considered that of the Great Spirit speaking through her. Also called the War Woman sat on national war council and advised the Head War Chief. She also had power of life or death over captives. Nancy Ward strong believer in friendship between the settlers and her people. Often warned the white settlers of Indian attacks.
Great Indian Warrior Path from ancient migration from GA and ALA through East Tennessee to Long Island of Holston whrer it divided with the main northeast trail leading to Pennsylvania through VA. Another branch turned north from long island up the North Fork Holston River to OH. Path through VA and TN became known as the Great Trading Path. Another Indian path used by Cherokees in dry weather left the Great Path, crossed the Long Island and traveled in a southwestern direction in shorter route to the Cherokee towns but only usable in dry weather.
This information is currently being sorted.
The is an excerpt from Michael Rutledge's Forgiveness in the Age of Forgetfulness. Michael, a citizen of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, is a law student at Arizona State University.
The Cherokee system was based more on responsibility for wrongful actions than on the notion of "justice" in the western sense of the word. Rather than justice, the Cherokee system was ideal for keeping balance and harmony in the spiritual and social worlds.
One day, some Cherokee children were playing outside, when a rattlesnake crawled out of the grass. They screamed and their mother ran outside. Without thinking, she took a stick and killed it.
Her husband was hunting in the mountains. As he was returning home that night, he heard a strange wailing sound. Looking around, he found himself in the midst of a gathering of rattlesnakes, whose mouths were open and crying.
"What is the matter," the man asked the snakes. The rattlesnakes responded, "Your wife killed our chief, the Yellow Rattlesnake today. We are preparing to send the Black Rattlesnake to take revenge."
The husband immediately accepted their claim and took responsibility for the crime. The rattlesnakes said, "If you speak the truth, you must be ready to make satisfaction." The price they demanded was the life of his wife in sacrifice for that of their chief. Not knowing what else might occur, the man consented.
The rattlesnakes told the man that the Black Rattlesnake would follow him home and coil up outside his door. He was to ask his wife to bring him a fresh drink of water from the spring. That was all.
When the man reached home, it was very dark. His wife had supper waiting for him.
"Please bring me some water," he asked her. She brought him a gourd from the jar, but he refused it.
"No," he said. "I would like some fresh water from the spring."
His wife took a bowl and stepped outside to get him some fresh water. The man immediately heard her cry. He went outside and found the Black Rattlesnake had bitten her and she was already dying. He stayed with her until she was dead.
The Black Rattlesnake then crawled out of the grass. "My tribe is now satisfied," he told the husband. He then taught the man a prayer song. The Black Rattlesnake told him, "When you meet any of us hereafter, sing this song and we will not hurt you. If by accident one of us should bite you, sing this song over the person and he will recover." And the Cherokee have kept this song to this day.
We had a strict liability law for any killing. The death created an imbalance which required revenge to restore harmony. The clan of the perpetrator of the homicide was to admit and accept responsibility for the wrongful killing. Then the clan was expected to pay the cost. Blood called for blood. Following this system, the husband sacrificed his wife's life to restore harmony. He did so because that was the law. In following the law, harmony was restored between the rattlesnakes and the humans. To reward the man, the snakes gave the humans a song to protect them and to remind the snakes of their duty to the humans, as well.
The Cherokee religion drove the sense of balance, which created a moral system for the human to follow. What drove the revenge system was the sense of balance. When a delict was committed, it created imbalance and tension on the jurisdictional unit. The acceptance of responsibility and paying of the cost restored that balance. Once the balance was restored, the relationship between the jurisdictional units or clans continued as if nothing happened. There were to be no hard feelings expressed between family members of the victim or killer. Balance had been restored and any friction was to end with the restoration of balance.
The creation of imbalance was tied to the Cherokee religion. It was believed that the murdered "soul" or ghost would be forced to wander the earth, unable to go to the next world. This created the imbalance. The acceptance of responsibility and the death of the killer or one of his clansmen restored balance by freeing the innocent ghost, allowing him to go to the next world. That is why it did not matter who paid the cost for the delict of the wrongful killing. Any death from the responsible clan would suffice to free the innocent man's ghost from this world. An enemy scalp might suffice as well.
In international law, the Cherokee system worked much the same way. If an international delict occurred, then anyone from the that jurisdictional unit, in this case, the foreign nation, would suffice to pay the cost. Taking responsibility for the international delict and paying the cost were exercised in the face of swift vengeance. There was no time for contrition. Thus, interloping settlers took their chances by moving onto Cherokee territory, because they might be called to pay the cost for someone else's actions or the actions of their nation. Cherokees saw it as their responsibility, whether or not the settlers saw it that way.
©1995 Michael J. Rutledge, All Rights Reserved.
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