Epilog... A moment after signing the Treaty of New Echota, Major John Ridge lay down the ink-quill, looked across the table to General William Carroll, and said "I have just signed my death warrant" and indeed he had. Chief John Ross arrived in Oklahoma in January 1839; in less than six months as an results of a plan without equal in Cherokee history, Major John Ridge, John Ridge Jr., and Elias Boudinot lay dead. Major Ridge was shot from his horse in Arkansas, almost at the same moment John Ross Jr. was dragged from his house and stabbed 43 times. Less that 30 minutes later, Elias Boudinot was killed with a tomahawk on Samuel Worcester's front porch. When Boudinot's body was found, the tomahawk wasstill imbedded in the back of his head. Somehow Stand Watie escaped death at the hands of the "Ross faction." The murder of these three Cherokee leaders sparked a blood feud, that lasted long past Chief John Ross's death in 1866.
n Andrew Jackson: Seventh president of the United States 1829-1837, instigated and presided over the removal of the Chickasaw, Creek, Choctaw, Cherokee. Removal fell to President Martin Van Buren. To this day, Native Americans refers to Andrew Jackson as, "The Town Burner"
n Major John Ridge: "Kah-nung-dat-la-geh" or Man Who Walks Mountain Tops, born 1771 in the Cherokee village "Hiwassee" to the high ranking clan Chief "Ogan-stota" his mother was a mix blood White/Cherokee. During John Ridge's lifetime he gained a repartition for visionary thinking. Before the end of his life, Major Ridge was also known as the murderer of Chief "Double-head" and the "Betrayer." He died at the hands of the "Ross Faction" June 22, 1839 at White Rock Creek, Ark.
n Elias Boudinot: Born near Rome, Ga., in 1803 to the wealthy Cherokee plantation owner David Oowate, his mother was also mixed blood of White Cherokee. His Cherokee name was "Gala-gina" or "Young Stag" he took the name "Elias Boudinot" from his French benefactor. He was educated at the Moravian Mission at Spring Place, Ga., the Mission School in Cornwall, Conn., and at Andover Theological Seminary. He was the first Editor and CEO of "The Talking Leaves" (The Cherokee Phoenix) he wrote and published several books, his most famous was "Poor Sarah the Indian Woman." Boudinot was murdered at the home of Samuel Worcester near Tahlequah, Okla., June 22, 1839.
n Stand Watie: The younger brother of Elias Boudinot was also born near Rome, Ga., in 1806. His father David Oowate, gave him the name "Dega-taga" or He Stands; he insisted on being called "Stan Watie". He was the first Grand Master of the "Knights of the Golden Circle" (The Ridge Faction) which was bitterly opposed to the abolition of slavery. With the advent of the Civil War, Watie quickly joined the Southern Cause. He soon raised a regiment of mounted Cherokee Warriors, and was commissioned Colonel on July 12th 1861. Watie's regiment had great success against Union Forces in Oklahoma, and for his successes, he was promoted to Brigadier General on May 6, 1864. He was the last Confederate General to lay down his arms, he surrendered the Cherokee Braves Division on June 23, 1865. General Stand Watie died at his home at Honey Creek, Okla., Sept. 9, 1871, a bitter and broken man.
n John Ross: Principal Chief of the Cherokees was the great-grandson of the Cherokee woman Ghi-goo-ie Shorey, or "Sweetheart Shorey" and William Shorey British interpreter at Fort Loudoun. Although Ross was only 1/8 Cherokee, even so his loyalty lay fully with the Cherokee. John Ross devoted his entire life to the education and economical development of the Cherokee, his chosen people. Nonetheless Chief Ross had a dark side, it was Ross who planned and directed the assassinations of Major Ridge, John Ridge Jr., and Elias Boudinot on or about Sept. 30, 1861. Ross received word that the "Ridge Faction" was actively seeking his death. Chief Ross avoided the "Ridge Faction" by allying with the Confederate General Albert Pike, who ordered that no reprisal be taken against Chief Ross. By the end of the Civil War, all treaties between the "Five Civilized Tribes" and the United States had been nullified. Though weary and ill, Chief Ross attended the "Grand Council of Southern Tribes" where he successfully argued for new treaties with Americans. New treaties were made at Fort Smith, Ark., in September 1865. By now Chief Ross was very ill, yet he insisted on accompanying the treaty party to Washington for the official signing on July 19, 1866. Soon after the treaty ceremony concluded, Chief John Ross collapsed, and although attended by the very best doctors Washington had to offer,Chief John Ross took his final step on the "Great Circle of Life" in his rooms at Mede's Hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington D.C., on Aug. 1, 1866. Despite his dark side, Chief Ross devoted his entire life to the betterment of the Cherokee people. It is for this we remember him.
Not all Cherokees were subject to removal, Chief "Yo-na-gus-ka" people, known as "Qualia's band of mixed bloods in North Carolina were United States citizens, and owned their land individually. And a smaller band of "Lumbee Cherokees" living on the fringes of the great swamp land in southwest North Carolina were also United States citizens. A similar situation existed for the Alabama Echota Cherokee tribe, in which the New Echota Band had its roots.
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My dear friends, with the ending of this story, so too I must bring an end to my articles. I've enjoyed telling the stories, and hope you've enjoyed them as well.
E. Delano (Ed) Christian of Tupelo is Town Chief of the New Echota Band, Red Nation of Cherokees. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org