|Principal Cherokee Chief John Ross
|Cherokee Chief John Ross and the Cherokee Nation
Cherokee nation, numbering as many as 17,000 people, were forced west in 1838, they were led by Principal Chief John Ross.
Ross had lost his long political battle to overturn the Treaty of New Echota, but the dedicated leader would continue to serve his grateful nation up to the hour of his death in 1866.
A Man of Stature:
John Ross was born October 3, 1790, and stood so high in the eyes of his people that they called him Guwisguwi, after a rare
migratory bird of large size and white or grayish plumage that had one time appeared at long intervals in the old Cherokee
country. He set a precedent in democratic political history that never will be broken. Intellectually, he was the greatest
chief in the history of the Cherokee people. By free ballot, he was repeatedly elected as principal chief of the Cherokee
Nation and died in office as chief executive of a government fashioned after that of the United States of America.
In his youth, he knew Jefferson, spent most of his prime negotiating with Jackson, came face
to face with Lincoln. In Washington,
D.C., he was known as the Indian Prince. Yet, for all his impressive contacts,
he was a man of simple and friendly habit, his home ever open to visitors of all walks of life, including John Howard Payne
who once shared a jail cell with him where Payne got the idea for the song, “Home, Sweet Home.”
|Photo of Cherokee Chief John Ross
|Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation
Chief John Ross was only one-eighth Cherokee and seven-eighths Scot.
He was as much a Scotsman as his great opponent, Andrew Jackson, and fought just as tenaciously. But he was forever Cherokee at heart. Ross was from
a prominent trading family that had settled before the American Revolution at what is currently Rossville, Georgia,
just across the line from Chattanooga, Tennessee.
He was educated at a white man’s school at Kingston, Tennessee, and began his public career at the age of 19 when he was entrusted by Indian
Agent Return Meigs with an important mission to the Arkansas Cherokee in 1809. Ross fought alongside Andrew "Old Hickory"
Jackson, Sam Houston, and Davy Crockett in the War of 1812, and at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend, in a daring act of bravery,
he swam the river to capture the Creeks’ canoes which were then used in an attack upon the enemy’s fort.
|Principal Chief of Cherokee Nation
|Chief John Ross
than anyone else, Ross was responsible for remodeling the Cherokee tribal government into a miniature republic in 1820. Under
the arrangement, the nation was divided into eight districts. Each was entitled to send four representatives to the Cherokee
national legislature, which met at New Echota, the capital, near present-day Calhoun,
Georgia. Meanwhile, Sequoyah had invented his alphabet, and
overnight, the Cherokee became a literate race. This led, in 1828, to the adoption of a constitution predicated on the Cherokee
assumption of sovereignty, development of a system of industries and home education, and establishment of a national press.
This bold step drew the immediate wrath of authorities and people of Georgia
and set off the first argument for state’s rights, with Georgia asking
the United States government what it proposed
to do about the “erection of a separate government within the limits of a sovereign state.” As the battle raged,
Ross dreamed that one day a new star would be added to the flag of the United States and that it would stand for a state the
like of which has not yet been received into the Union—an Indian state, the State of Cherokee. Instead, John Ross found
himself spending most of his time in Washington fighting
the removal of the Cherokee to the West. His knowledge of the writings of Jefferson enabled
the Cherokee to present memorials of dignity and moving appeal to Congress. However, he lost the battle by one vote. Throughout
the long hard battle, Ross’ people trusted him implicitly.
|Chief John Ross House
(John Ross House) This log house
is located in Rossville, Georgia,
on the Georgia-Tennessee border near Chattanooga. It
consists of two rooms on each floor separated by a central breezeway, now enclosed, and was built in the 1790s by John Ross's
grandfather. Ross lived here with his grandparents as a boy and the house later served as a headquarters for the enterprises
that made him a rich man. The property also included a large farm, worked by slaves. Ross also owned a supply depot and warehouse
at Ross's Landing (now in Chattanooga).
for a Lifetime of Service:
their arrival in the Indian Territory, Ross was chosen chief of the united Cherokee Nation and held that office until his
death in Washington on August 1, 1866, at the
age of 76. Upon learning of his death, the Cherokee Nation passed a memorial resolution that praised him as a man of moral
conviction and selfless leadership, dedicated to the rule of law and the importance of education. The resolution also acknowledged
his important place in the history of his people: “His works are inseparable from the history of the Cherokee people
for nearly half a century, while his example in the daily walks of life will linger in the future and whisper words of hope,
temperance, and charity in the years of posterity.” Resolutions were also passed for bringing his body from Washington at the expense of the Cherokee Nation and provided
for suitable funeral rites and burial, in order “that his remains should rest among those he so long served.”
He was buried at Park Hill, Oklahoma, his home,
but there are descendants of Chief John Ross living in the Eastern Band of Cherokee Nation in Western North Carolina.
|Cherokee Chief John Ross
|Cherokee Indian John Ross
Sources: Eastern Band of Cherokee Nation; John Ross, a Cherokee Chief, Lithographic & Print Coloring
Establishment, copyright 1843. Prints and Photographs Division. Reproduction Number: LC-USZC4-3156.
Recommended Reading: John
Ross, Cherokee Chief. Description: John Ross is one of the most revered Cherokee chiefs... it is impossible
to understand the Cherokee Nation and its people without the study of Ross. Author Gary Moulton gives splendid insight into
the life and times of one of the most complex and often misunderstood American Indians—Cherokee Chief John Ross. Ross,
a 1/8th Cherokee and 7/8th Scotsman, and framer of the Cherokee Tribal government, was well-known for
his harsh protest of the controversial 1835 Treaty of New Echota. Continued below...
Moulton does justice by presenting the Ross position and the outcome
that spawned a bloody-factional Cherokee feud--which continued into the American Civil War. Moulton’s insight also includes
recollections and the death of Ross in 1866. "This definitive study of
Cherokee Chief John Ross is highly recommended for the individual that is remotely interested in: Cherokee history and facts,
the Cherokee Nation, Native Americans, famous Cherokee chiefs, and general American history."
The Eastern Band of Cherokees, 1819-1900, by John R. Finger. Review from
University of Tennessee Press:
This volume presents the story of the Eastern Band of Cherokees during the nineteenth century. This group – the tribal
remnant in North Carolina that escaped removal in the 1830’s
– found their fortitude and resilience continually tested as they struggled with a variety of problems, including the
upheavals of the Civil War and Reconstruction, internal divisiveness, white encroachment on their lands, and a poorly defined
relationship with the state and federal governments. Yet despite such stresses and a selective adaptation in the face of social
and economic changes, the Eastern Cherokees retained a sense of tribal identity as they stood at the threshold of the twentieth
century. Continued below…
scholars, like most Cherokees, have tended to follow the Trail of Tears west with scarcely a backward glance at the more than
1,000 Indians who stayed behind in the North Carolina
mountains. In this pathbreaking book, John R. Finger combs federal, state, and local archives to tell the story of these forgotten
of Southern History
work is a significant contribution to the literature on this long-ignored group….Finger works [his] sources well and
out of them has produced a narrative that is readable and that puts the Eastern Band of Cherokees as a tribal entity into
a clear, historical perspective.”
John R. Finger
is professor of history at the University
of Tennessee, Knoxville.
Reading: Cherokee Proud, Second
Edition, by Tony Mack McClure. Description: Absolutely the "Bible" of Cherokee Genealogy. New, 336 pages, 2nd Edition. If
the information in this remarkable new book doesn't lead a person to proof of their Cherokee roots, nothing can! “It
is an A-to-Z on organizing and locating the requirements / qualifications for membership.” Continued below...
Are you Cherokee? Are you the individual that has always been told that you
are a Cherokee, but have no facts or records to prove it? To claim Cherokee membership means that you must prove it –
you must have the facts, so toss the doubt away, get the facts, and claim what is rightfully your heritage by blood quantum.
Now, are you ready to prove that you are a Cherokee? It’s not difficult if you take the time to locate the facts. Included
are proven resources for tracing your family genealogy, the family tree, roots, bloodline, and for researching your ancestors
to prove that you meet the blood requirements (qualifications) for Cherokee membership and tribal enrollment. Those that qualify
as “American Indians are American Indians” and are entitled to the rights and benefits of the tribe! Also includes
a proven “how to dos” written by the foremost expert in Cherokee history, genealogy and heritage. Cherokee
membership is not like joining a gym or paying dues, it’s your blood, so claim it. Are you remotely interested
in knowing that you are a “Cherokee Indian” or are you the individual that enjoys genealogy? Do you want to locate
and preserve your Native American ancestry? Finding information about ancestors for genealogy and heritage is also a lot of
fun. Moreover, you are preserving your own family history and heritage with your relatives and loved ones for generations
and generations… Take a look at exactly what is required to locate and organize and present your information to
prove that you meet the qualifications as a member of the Cherokee tribe. Cherokee Proud, by Tony McClure, is referred to as the "Bible for Cherokee
Genealogy." Cherokee Proud has also been rated a SOLID FIVE STARS by
every person that has read and rated it. To see if you meet the 'Cherokee qualification and requirement for membership',
then look no further -- purchase Cherokee Proud. Read the reviews and
see what people and organizations are saying about it.
is the very best book I have ever seen on tracing Cherokee genealogy." -- RICHARD PANGBURN, acclaimed author of Indian Blood,
Vol. I & II found in most libraries
loosens his journalistic standards for portions of this book which reach him too emotionally. Understood. Fascinating and
Among the people of this country are individuals in whose blood runs the proud heritage of a noble and resilient people whose
ways and talents rank with the finest civilizations the world has known. They are the " Tsalagi ". . . the Cherokee. This
book will help you learn if you are one of them. -- BOOK READER
of Cherokee Proud are exceptional - valuable information that can be used by so many readers and researchers who have Native
American (Cherokee) ancestry." -- DON SHADBURN, Famous Georgia historian and noted author of Unhallowed Intrusion and Cherokee
Planters of Georgia
guide is the best yet!" -- LAWTON CONSTITUTION
About the Author: Well known and acclaimed Cherokee author Dr. Tony Mack McClure,
a native of Tennessee, is a certified member of the Native American Journalists Association, Wordcraft Circle of Native Writers
and Storytellers, and Committeeman for the Tennessee Chapter of the National Trail of Tears Association. His work has appeared
in numerous magazines, over 250 newspapers, on all major television networks and many cable systems.
Reading: The Cherokee Nation: A History. Description: Conley's book, "The Cherokee Nation: A History" is an eminently
readable, concise but thoughtful account of the Cherokee people from prehistoric times to the present day. The book is formatted
in such a way as to make it an ideal text for high school and college classes. At the end of each chapter is a source list
and suggestions for further reading. Also at the end of each chapter is an unusual but helpful feature- a glossary of key
terms. The book contains interesting maps, photographs and drawings, along with a list of chiefs for the various factions
of the Cherokee tribe and nation. Continued
to being easily understood, a principal strength of the book is that the author questions some traditional beliefs and sources
about the Cherokee past without appearing to be a revisionist or an individual with an agenda in his writing. One such example
is when Conley tells the story of Alexander Cuming, an Englishman who took seven Cherokee men with him to England
in 1730. One of the Cherokee, Oukanekah, is recorded as having said to the King of England: "We look upon the Great King George
as the Sun, and as our Father, and upon ourselves as his children. For though we are red, and you are white our hands and
hearts are joined together..." Conley wonders if Oukanekah actually said those words and points out that the only version
we have of this story is the English version. There is nothing to indicate if Oukanekah spoke in English or Cherokee, or if
his words were recorded at the time they were spoken or were written down later. Conley also points out that in Cherokee culture,
the Sun was considered female, so it is curious that King George would be looked upon as the Sun. The "redness" of Native
American skin was a European perception. The Cherokee would have described themselves as brown. But Conley does not overly
dwell on these things. He continues to tell the story using the sources available. The skill of Conley in communicating his
ideas never diminishes. This book is highly recommended as a good place to start the study of Cherokee history. It serves
as excellent reference material and belongs in the library of anyone serious about the study of Native Americans.
Reading: Trail of Tears: The Rise and Fall of the Cherokee
Nation. Description: One of the many ironies of U.S. government policy toward Indians in the early 1800s is that it persisted in
removing to the West those who had most successfully adapted to European values. As whites encroached on Cherokee land, many
Native leaders responded by educating their children, learning English, and developing plantations. Such a leader was Ridge,
who had fought with Andrew Jackson against the British. Continued below...
As he and other
Cherokee leaders grappled with the issue of moving, the land-hungry Georgia legislators, with the aid of Jackson, succeeded
in ousting the Cherokee from their land, forcing them to make the arduous journey West on the infamous "Trail of Tears." ...A
treasured addition for the individual remotely interested in American Indian history as well as general American
Chief John Ross History,
Cherokee Chief John Ross and the 1838 Trail of Tears, Principal Chief John Ross Photo, Photos, Facts, Treaty of New Echota
of 1835, Indian Removal Act 1830 Details, Picture, Picture, Photograph, and Photographs.