This is a very concise and accurate history of indigenous Trans-Appalachia in a two-volume work, taking us from the formation of early inter-tribal resistance and beyond. We are a People who have managed to quietly survive and maintain a deep sense of pride and dignity. We know who we are and this work will help people realize how we came to be. Dragging Canoe was a warrior and leader but historically not as well-known as other chiefs. If the European invasion had started in the west and spread east, the Chickamauga would still have been one of the warrior tribes to contend with. As it is, we are still here today and for the past few decades we have been regrouping and reforming our bands. Read this and be proud of your ancestors and your Chickamauga heritage.

Jerry D. Painter
Morning Star Society
Water Hollow Band of Chickamauga

Content Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.

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1761 & 1763 Royal Proclamations

The 1761 Proclamation "Settlements Interfering with Frontier Indians Forbidden" was the first of two Proclamations by the Crown of England following the French-Indian War. These proclamations attempted to usher in a new era administration in which the old charter system of the English colonies in America was nullified. The previous charter system was based on Crown charters to individual colonies that provided the colonies with the privileges to expand their colonies from sea to sea. Basically on paper this ended the land grant traditions of the English Colonies in North America while also creating a border between Amerindian and the seaboard territories of the English colonies. This border ran the length of the Appalachian Mountain Range. The 1761 Proclamation provided punitive measures in that colonial governors and other royal agents would stand to lose their office if they proceeded with any new grants of land. This proclamation further provided for the prosecution of individuals who were currently holding lands without a license. This and the later Royal Proclamation of 1763 were enacted due to the success of Amerindian Nations during the French and Indian War and shortly thereafter during "Pontiac's Uprising" (an oversimplified description) at preventing British control of the "Interior Country" west of the Appalachian Mountain Range. These Proclamations acknowledged a legitimate border between Amerindian lands and the lands of the English Colonies. (1)

In November of 1761 the opinion of Colonial New York's Lieutenant Governor was forwarded to the British Office of Secretary of State at Whitehall in England:

... all the Causes of Complaint, which our Indian Allies had against us at the Commencement of the Troubles in America; And which not only induced take up the Hatchet against us...that the Primary cause of that Discontent which produced these Fatal Effects was the Cruelty and Injustice with which they had been treated, with Respect to the Hunting Grounds...Under these Circumstances and in this Situation therefore the Granting Lands hitherto unsettled and Establishing Colonies upon the Frontiers, before the Claims of the Indians are Ascertained appears to us to be a Measure of the most dangerous Tendency ... (2)

Royal Proclamation of 1763 was a more rigorous document that in detail outlined the new terms of administration over the English Colonies. Attempts to unify the colonies under a single government had occurred several times with reoccurring themes as to why reorganization of the colonies was necessary. British legislative bills in parliament during the first decade of the 1700s attempted to nullify colonial charters on a number of grounds. The issues involved the unfitting use of land entitlements, adherence to trade regulations, inability to provide martial security, maintain militias, or raise a militia at all, practice of illegal trade, and the inability to self-govern resulting in harem-scarum conditions. Both Proclamations regulated the colonies interaction with the Amerindian Nations of the "Interior Country." The recognition of Amerindian rights by the English Crown at the time was an imperative issue that could not be ignored if England were to successfully bring coherent administration to the thirteen colonies. (3)

In 1774, a short time before the outbreak of the American Revolution, Colonial North Carolina Governor Martin received reports stating:

It is my humble opinion that the Royal Instruction with respect to such lands will operate as a prohibition and in all probability the vacant poor Lands will be Pillaged by the destruction of the Timber and Lightwood and the Range destroyed without any benefit to the Crown and but little to the Province by Transient People who are continually passing from one Province to another. ...but occasion a great deal of confusion and disturbance in the Country by many people seating themselves on vacant Lands, destroying Timber, Lightwood &C., such having no real title to Lands but ready to fly from one Province to another to shelter themselves from prosecution... (4)

In sum, the Royal Proclamations served to reorganize overseas Enlish Colonial Administration in North America and to preserve the territorial land rights of Amerindian Nations. Land, Trade, and Finance were core themes. Individuals such as George Washington and other land speculators did not yield to the reorganization of the new colonial administration and continued to support the practices of the former charter based colonial administration system which in turn led to the American Revolution. The corrupt land grant and unlawful land speculation practices of the former charter system provided for the gross exploitation of Amerindian land rights. Dispute over the border acknowledged by the English Crown led to what can be referred to as the "PROCLAMATION WARS" or the series of conflicts within and around the geographic area known as Trans-Appalachia from the time of the French-Indian War until the era of Indian Removal during the 1830's and 1840's.

1775 Henderson Land Purchase

Competition over western lands heated up as individuals such as George Washington and George Croghan both placed squatters on their lands to strengthen their claims to the land surveys they had conducted. Virginia would attempt to aid its citizens by nullifying counter land claims by other colonies like North Carolina that laid into the jurisdiction of Virginia's territorial claims. The issue over western land speculation further deteriorated as new land companies began acting on their own authority no longer waiting for approval from English or local colonial officials. South of the Ohio River in 1775, the Henderson or Transylvania Company negotiated a land sale involving the majority of the Kentucky region with the Cherokee Nation. This agreement would lead to serious divisions in the Cherokee Nation, but perhaps the leadership of the time felt the Kentucky region had already been compromised by the previous Stanwix Treaty and thought this was an opportunity to receive compensation for something it could not undo without conducting a costly war. The Henderson-Cherokee transaction was conducted to create a new colony known as Transylvania. This purchase also caused great discord among the local colonies. Governor Martin issued a proclamation against Richard Henderson that avowed: (1)

And Whereas in an by an Act of the General Assembly of this Province entitled An Act for restraining the Indians from molesting or injuring the Inhabitants of this Government and for securing to the Indians the Right and Property of their own Lands; it is, among other things, Enacted, That no white Man shall, for any consideration whatsoever, purchase or buy any Tract or Parcel of Land claimed or actually in possession of any Indian without special Liberty for doing from the Governor and Council first had and obtained under the Penalty of Twenty pounds for every hundred Acres of Land so bargained for and purchased; one half to the Informer, and other Half to him or them that shall sue for the same. (2)

Virginia Governor Dunmore in line with the Treaty of Lochaber of 1770 that created a southern boundary line consistent with the northern Stanwix Line of 1768 responded to the Henderson Purchase with his own proclamation calling for the imprisonment of Richard Henderson and his associates for illegally annexing lands within the jurisdiction of Virginia. Dunmore further ordered the completion of land surveys so that public sales could be initiated. (3) Herein lays the dispute over jurisdiction between North Carolina and Virginia. Governor Martin of North Carolina reported to the Earl of Dartmouth:

The Line My Lord here called the Western Boundary of Virginia, is the dividing Line between that Colony and Lord Granville's District of this Province running from the seashore to the westward. The continuation thereof has been ... not authorized by His Majesty's Royal Instruction to the Governors of the Two Provinces ... (4)

Dragging Canoe (Tsiyu Gansini) Responds

On the second day of the [Henderson] Treaty..." as he... "went out displeased on hearing the proposals of the said Henderson as to what lands he wanted to purchase, because the white people wanted too much of their hunting grounds." On March 17, 1775, the treaty of Watauga signed by Cherokee headsmen Attacullacullah (Dragging Canoe's father), Savanooka, and Oconistoto gave the Henderson land company most of the land of what is now Kentucky and middle Tennessee for 2,000 pounds.

Lord Dunmore writes to Attacullacullah, "I hope that little Carpenter and all my Brothers, the Cherokees, will give attention... and... advise them if the bargain is not yet concluded, that they will make known to the said Henderson and his associates that they did not understand the import of it, and it was contrary to the orders and regulations and laws of the King and his governments, it cannot be valid."

Dragging Canoe stated, "We had hope that the white men would not be willing to travel beyond the mountains. Now that hope is gone. They have passed the mountains, and have settled upon Cherokee land. They wish to have the usurpation sanctioned by a treaty. When that is gained, the same encroaching spirit will lead them up on other land of the Cherokees. New cessions will be asked. Finally, the whole country which the Cherokees and their fathers have so long occupied, will be demanded, and the remnant of Ani-Yunwiya, 'The Real People' once so great and formidable will be compelled to stay only a short while until they again behold the advancing banners of the same greedy host. Not being able to point out any further retreat for the miserable Cherokees, the extinction of the whole race will proclaimed. Should we not therefore run all risks, and incur all consequences, rather than submit to further laceration of our country? Such treaties may be all right for men who are too old to hunt or fight. As for me, I have my young warriors about me. We will have our lands. A-waninski. I have spoken. (1)

Dragging Canoe and many other like minded headmen decided they would defend their lands and made this clear to Henderson and his comrades. They were not going to consent to the settlement of the lands in question. In doing so the Cherokee Nation was divided over the Henderson land transaction. The faction of Cherokee who would resist the settlement of their lands became known as the Chickamauga.

Regardless, with the outbreak of the American Revolution the entire Cherokee Nation entered this conflict as the Overhill Town Cherokees were aligned with British interests. The likely motives behind the American Revolution were centered on two issues: one, because England denied the colonies the rights to settle on lands beyond the Appalachians, such as the highly coveted Ohio lands and the other being, the increased taxes on the colonies to pay off England's debts incurred during the French-Indian War. Albeit, the thirteen colonies were direct beneficiaries of the war's outcome.

The Cherokees withdrew from the war fairly quickly after a colonial militia of 2,500 equipped with Catawba scouts destroyed around 30 to 40 Cherokee towns taking 75 scalps in the engagement. South Carolina at the time offered rewards of 50 pounds per scalp and 100 pounds per live prisoner. Eventually, a Virginia militia demanded the surrender of Dragging Canoe and Alexander Cameron, a Tory Loyalist. In response, the Cherokee signed two treaties in 1777 that included a succession of land to arrange a peaceful exit from the war; while the Chickamauga relocated to Chickamauga Creek to continue fighting. Dragging Canoe scoffed at the Cherokee who did not relocate by branding them as "Virginians." (2)

At this time, elder Cherokee headsmen, such as Oconistoto offered bounty rewards of 100 pounds on the heads of Dragging Canoe and Alexander Cameron as a means to convey a serious commitment of peace with the colonial Americans. Essentially, the Chickamauga were no longer represented by the councils of the Cherokee Nation and became their own representatives in an act of secession. By the 1790s, events, circumstance, and frontier politics would convolute this storyline even further. (3)


  • (1)__Labaree, Leonard Woods. Royal Instructions to British Colonial Governors 1670-1776 Volume II. New York and London: D. Appleton--Century Company Incorporated, 1935.
  • (2)__Saunders, William L. Editor. "Whitehall 11th Novbr 1761 To the Kings most Excellent Majesty." The Colonial Records of North Carolina Volume VI-1759 To 1765. Raleigh, North Carolina: Josephus Daniels, Printer to the State. 1888. Pages 582-586.
  • (3)__ Kellogg, Louise Phelps. The American Colonial Charter A Study of English Administration...After 1688. New York: De Capo Press. 1971.

  • Mount, Steve. 1995. The Albany Plan. U. S. Constitution Online. Retrieved Nov 2010.

    Pargellis, Stanley. Military Affairs in North America 1748-1765 Selected Documents from the Cumberland Papers in Windsor Castle. New York: D. Appleton-Century Company. 1936.

    Pate, J. P. The Chickamauga: A Forgotten Segment of Indian Resistance on the Southern Frontier Dissertation at Mississippi State University. 1969.

    Root, Winfred Trexler. The Relations of Pennsylvania with the British Government 1696-1765. New York: D. Appleton and Company. 1912.

    Winfred Root and Herman Ames. Syllabus of American Colonial History From the Beginning of Colonial Expansion to the Formation of the Federal Union. New York, London, Bombay, and Calcutta: Longmans, Green, and Co. 1912.
  • (4)__ Saunders, William L. Editor. "North Carolina, July 26th 1774 Letter from William Rutherford to Governor Martin." Volume IX. -1771 To 1775. Raleigh, North Carolina: Josephus Daniels, Printer to the State. 1890. Page 1021.
  • (1)__Dillon, J. B. Oddities of Colonial Legislation in America, as Applied to the Public Lands, Primitive Education, Religion, Morals, Indians, Etc., Etc., with Authentic Records... with a Summary of the Territorial Expansion, Civil Progress and the Development of the Nation. Indianapolis, Indiania: Robert Douglas, Publisher-Electrotyped at the Indianapolis Electrotype Foundry, Ketcham and Wanamaker, Proprietors. 1879.

    Henderson, A. The Creative Forces in Westward Expansion: Henderson and Boone. The American Historical Review. Oct 1914. Vol 20 No 1 pp 86-107.

    Sato, Shosuke; Special Commissioner of the Colonial Department of Japan. History of the Land Question in the United States. Johns Hopkins University Studies in Historical and Political Science, Fourth Series VII-VIII-IX. Herbert B. Adams, Editor. Baltimore, Maryland: N. Murray, Publication Agent and Isaac Friedenwald, Printer. 1886.

    Yoho, James. Interest Groups in America 1498-1861. Dissertation at the University of Virginia. Ann Arbor, Michigan: UMI. 1999.

    Volwiler, Albert T. George Croghan and the Westward Movement 1741-1782. Cleveland: The Arthur H. Clark Company. 1926.
  • (2)__Saunders, William L. Editor. "A Proclamation by Governor Martin against Richard Henderson and the Transylvania Purchase." The Colonial Records of North Carolina Volume IX.-1771 To 1775. Raleigh, North Carolina: Josephus Daniels, Printer to the State. 1890. Page 1123.
  • (3)__Saunders, William L. Editor. "A Proclamation by Governor Dunmore of Virginia." The Colonial Records of North Carolina Volume IX.-1771 To 1775. Raleigh, North Carolina: Josephus Daniels, Printer to the State. 1890. Page 1169.
  • (4)__Saunders, William L. Editor. "No Carolina New Bern May 4th 1775 Letter from Governor Martin to the Earl of Dartmouth." The Colonial Records of North Carolina Volume IX.-1771 To 1775. Raleigh, North Carolina: Josephus Daniels, Printer to the State. 1890. Pages 1243 & 1244.
  • (1)__Appalachian Summit, 2004, History, Mar 2004. [website no longer exists]
  • (2)__Sturtevant, William C. Handbook of North American Indians-History of Indian-White Relations, Volume 4. Washington, D.C: U.S. Government Printing Office.1988

    Pate, J. P. The Chickamauga: A Forgotten Segment of Indian Resistance on the Southern Frontier Dissertation at Mississippi State University. Ann Arbor, Michigan. 1969. Pages 80 & 81.

  • (3)__Holm, Tom. American Indian Warfare: The Cycles of Conflict and the Militarization of Native North America, Pages 154-172. Deloria, Philip J., and Neal Salisbury. A Companion to American Indian History: Malden, Massachusetts: Blackwell Publishers Ltd. 2002.


Chickamauga Creek


The original eleven Chickamauga towns were situated along Chickamauga Creek a creek that flows into the Tennessee River from what is now Northwest Georgia. The town that carried the name Chickamauga was north of what is now Chattanooga, Tennessee. While these town sites provided the Chickamauga faction safety from the frontier destruction of Cherokee Towns during the early years of the American Revolutions the war resulted in Cherokee refuge populations such as the five hundred Cherokee who took shelter in Pensacola, Florida (a British controlled port); a group whom agreed to fight with the British. In 1776 another Cherokee refugee settlement was identified in the colony of New York close to the Seneca River where a young female child was abducted and sold in Tennessee as a slave. (1)

The Lower Towns


By 1782 a number of new raids had been conducted into Cherokee Territory by forces under John Sevier. Many towns lay deserted such that many Cherokee took refuge in local forests wanting for food. The Chickamauga towns did not fair much better. The Chickmauaga completed an earlier migration further down the Tennessee River that began as early as 1779 and founded five new towns that became known as the "Lower Towns." These included Running Water and Nickajack in Tennessee, Long Island and Crow Town in Alabama, Lookout Town in the northwest corner of Georgia, in addition to other towns. Dragging Canoe resided at Running Water. Delegations from allied nations also resided at Running Water including Shawnee and Creek. These town sites were situated such that they commanded a great advantage to the land navigation trails across Trans-Appalachia. (2)

From the records of North Carolina and dated September 20, 1782:


As soon as the Troops under the Command of two of your Board, to-wit: General McDowell and Colonel Sevier, have formed a Junction in the Cherokee Country first having complied with my first Instructions respecting the Chicamaugas, as to the destruction of their Town and other hostile Towns of the Cherokees, &c., you will send out Flags with Runners or proper persons, and invite that nation to a Treaty, or such part thereof as you shall judge requisite to attend.

That you require of the Chickamaugas in Satisfaction for their late Disaffection and the Murders and Ravages they have Committed upon our peacable, inoffensive Citizens, that they relinquish their Claim to their Settlements and return to the Cherokee Nation from whence they were emigrants; that the Cherokees, or whatever Tribe of that Nation by whom the same may be claimed, cede to this State, including those settlements from such Boundaries as you shall agree upon, all the Western lands contained within the chartered bounds of North Carolina to the Ohio and Mississippi, should the Ohio be within the bounds of the same. That they surrender all our prisoners, & deliver up all Refugees, Tories and British who may be among them, together with all Negroes and other property taken or plundered from the Inhabitants of this or of the United States. You will agree on a Western Line by which that Nation and this State shall be sacredly bound. Which confining and contracting their settlements the Cherokees will soon be circumscribed by white Inhabitants, and their power reduced to the harmless and inoffensive situation of the Catawbas... (3)

Alexander Martin wrote in December of 1782,

The Cherokees and Chickasaws have sent talks, earnestly petitioning for peace on some lasting footing-to fix boundaries, &c., but the Chickamaugas ask no favours, being still determined to do all the injury they can. (4)

Map of Chickamauga Creek



  • (1)__ Dowd, Gregory Evans. Paths of Resistance: American Indian Religion and the Quest for Unity, 1745-1815, Volumes 1 and 2. Dissertation at Princeton University. 1986.

    Pate, James Paul. The Chickamauga: A Forgotten Segment of Indian Resistance on the Southern Frontier. Dissertation at Mississippi State University. 1969.

    Piecuch, James R. Three Peoples, One King: Loyalists, Indians, Slaves, and the American Revolution in the Deep South 1775-1782. Dissertation at the College of William and Mary: Virgnia. 2005.

    Sheidley, Nathaniel J. Unruly Men: Indians, Settlers, and the Ethos of Frontier Patriarchy in the Upper Tennessee Watershed, 1763-1815. Dissertation at Princeton University. 1999. Pages 114 & 115.
  • (2)__ Pate, James Paul. The Chickamauga: A Forgotten Segment of Indian Resistance on the Southern Frontier. Dissertation at Mississippi State University. 1969.

    Wilkins, Thurman. Cherokee Tragedy The Ridge Family and the Decimation of a People, 2nd Ed. University of Oklahoma Press. Norman, Oklahoma. 1986.
  • (3)__ Clark, Walter. Editor. The State Records of North Carolina. 1777-1790. Vol XIX. Winston and Goldsboro. 1901. Pages 905 & 906.
  • (4)__ Clark, Walter. Editor. The State Records of North Carolina. 1777-1790. Vol XIX. Winston and Goldsboro. 1901. Page 938.


Western Confederacy

The "Western Confederacy" is the more common name description of the inter-tribal security alliance that operated along the west-side of the Appalachian Mountain Range. This name is found among Indian Agent records as early as 1767. The primary aim of the Western Confederacy was to stop westward settlement into the interior lands that closely lay between the Appalachia Mountain Range and the Mississippi River. The roots of the Western Confederacy can be identified with the French-Indian War and the post-war military offensive against English forts on the frontier; a resistance associated with the efforts of an Ottawa known as Pontiac. This inter-tribal resistance and previous agreements during the French-Indian War led to the Royal Proclamation of 1763 in which the interior lands were guaranteed to a multiplicity of tribal nations by King George of England. Pontiac was assassinated in 1769 apparently on the orders of an English goods trader. The "Western Nations" were those nations predominantly west of the Ohio River while the "Southern Nations" generally refer to the nations south of the Ohio River. The "Northern Nations" generally refer to the nations about the northern reaches of the Great Lakes and the eastern half of what is now the U.S. and Canadian border. (1)

By 1770 a large inter-tribal conference was held near the Scioto River at Chillicothe. A council house was built by the Shawnee for this purpose. Tribal Nations from the South attended including the Cherokee and Creek. This conference was in direct response to the Fort Stanwix Land Sale (Treaty) approved by the Six Nations Iroquois without the consent of the Western Nations nor the Southern Nations. The Fort Stanwix Treaty extended the colonial border along the Ohio and Tennessee Rivers. The Shawnee initiated this campaign to solidify an inter-tribal organization to prevent further land cessions and to rebuke Six Nations Iroquois claims to the interior lands. Claims that were largely based on the former prevailing diplomatic arrangement of the Covenant Chain between the Six Nations, England, and the colonies. In colonial records the Western Confederacy is a few times referred to as the "Scioto Confederacy." (2)

The Western Confederacy operated as an effective security regime from its inception date in 1770 until its demise in 1794. This confederation had great difficulties in attending to its goals as this was also an era of deep inter-tribal and intra-tribal differences; in as much that member nations were generally not supported in these efforts by the full constituency of their respective nations. With the illegal or extra-legal Henderson Land Purchase or Treaty of 1774 a significant portion of the Cherokee who were to be known as, and whom identified as the Chickamauga became the cornerstone of the Western Confederacy's diplomatic and military efforts in southern Trans-Appalachia while also providing diplomatic and military support to the Western Nations north of the Ohio River. The constituency of the Western Confederation included stout supporters from the Cherokee, Creek, Delaware, Miami, Mingo, Ojibwa, Ottawa, Pottawatomie, and Shawnee. No one was probably more active in promoting inter-tribal confederation than the Chickamauga and the Shawnee. During the early 1800's a Shawnee who had lived among the Chickamauga and was known as Tecumseh resurrected the Western Confederacy to a large degree but only for a short time.

The Mortar, a Creek headman among the Southern Nations was a longtime advocate of ending inter-tribal hostilities with noticeable efforts extending as far back as the French-Indian War until his untimely death during a skirmish with some Choctaw while traveling to New Orleans in 1774. During the French-Indian War English authorities identified The Mortar and Alabama Mingo of the Choctaw as likely southern cohorts to Pontiac's schemes. Creek efforts to end the war with the Choctaw at this time were unsuccessful but a large number of Creek were staunch supporters of inter-tribal efforts and closely worked with the Chickamauga during this time frame. (3)

During the 1770s, a Reverend Jones traveled to the Ohio country and noted that:

They are strangers to civil power and authority...that one man has no natural right to rule over another...Every town has its head-men, some of which are by us called kings: but by what I can learn this appellation is by the Indians given to none, only as they learned it from us. The chief use of these head-men is to give counsel...(4)

Spanish officials west of the Mississippi River instructed...

It is to be noted that no recourse must be had to weapons or to violence with the tribes in the territories belonging to his Majesty. Everything must be by the medium of councils... (5)

Treaty of Nogales

In 1782 representatives from the Shawnee, Cherokee, Delaware, and Chickasaw visited Spanish officials in St. Louis presenting "four large blue and white necklaces, which are the customary symbols of peace..." The purpose of their journey was to open diplomatic relations with the Spanish for "friendship and alliance." The Spanish officials were happy to receive them and thought favorable of their intentions as the Spanish were interested in keeping the Mississippi River open for trade. The local officials noted that only the Shawnee had visited in previous years. (1)

By 1793, Carondelet, the Governor of Spanish Louisiana sought to enter into a security and trade regime with the Southern Nations or the Cherokee, Creek, Chickasaw, and Choctaw. Carondelet was concerned with the territorial expansion of the United States. In October the Treaty of Nogales was completed between the Southern Nations and the Spanish. The treaty assured the Southern Nations of their sovereignty and provided agreements for an offensive and defensive military alliance. The treaty also accomplished and end to the Creek and Choctaw conflict. A few of the principle headmen at the negotiations included Ugula Yacahe of the Chickasaw, Franchimastabe of the Choctaw, and Loushatta of the Creek. Dragging Canoe died in the spring of 1792 and thus was absent from the treaty talks. During his life he never agreed to any transfer of Cherokee lands or other tribal lands for that matter. He died at a time when his strategy to preserve the territory now known as Tennessee was working. His death was untimely and his leadership irreplaceable. (2)

The idea of the Chickamauga Confederacy or an inter-tribal alliance of the Southern Nations is best represented on paper by the agreements made at the Treaty of Nogales. The Spanish in were ineffective at filling the leadership void left by Dragging Canoe and Alexander McGillivray of the Creek Nation. Earlier in 1784 the Chickamauga sent representatives to a conference at Mobile, Alabama that was attended by the Spanish, Creek, Cherokee, Choctaw, and Chickasaw but to no real advantage in gaining support for their agenda. It was an inter-tribal alliance that never materialized to the extent of the "Western Confederacy." While the Chickasaw for a short time in 1780 defended their hunting grounds in Kentucky and Tennessee, apparently they did so without consideration for inter-tribal security commitments. Principle Alexander McGillivray of the Creek was sincerely opposed to the territorial expansion of the United States but he was also highly committed to the interests of English trade firms operating among the Southern Nations. Alexander died in 1793.

More so the Creek and Choctaw were seemingly in a constant state of conflict with each other as were the Chickasaw. By 1783 the Chickasaw became polarized between Spanish and U.S. trade factions, a crippling polarization that lasted well over a decade. Had the Southern Nations conducted a coordinated effort to prevent the settlement of Kentucky and Tennessee it is probable that these lands would not have been settled nor other interior lands penetrated so deeply by settlers. (3)

Richard Henderson wrote in a letter dated June 19, 1779;

...but as the Chickamogy tribes have lately received a severe drubbing, or rather an utter rout of their whole people, and all their Towns and plantations laid waste by the late expedition against them, I think that two hundred men may, at this time, proceed to the business without much danger; at least I am willing to risk it, but cannot help suggesting that a power might well be lodged with the Commissioners to raise another Company of fifty men in case of apparent necessity. (4)


  • (1)__ Hamilton, Milton W., Editor. The Papers of Sir William Johnson, Volume XIII. The University of the State of New York: Albany, New York. 1962.

    Moore, Charles. The Northwest Under Three Flags 1635-1796. Harper and Brothers Publishers: New York and London. 1900.
  • (2)__ Dowd, Gregory Evans. Paths of Resistance: American Indian Religion and the Quest for Unity, 1745-1815, Volumes 1 and 2. Dissertation at Princeton University. 1986. Pages 321 & 323.

    Fierst, John Timothy. The Struggle to Defend Indian Authority in the Ohio Valley-Great Lakes Region 1763-1794. Dissertation at the University of Manitoba. 2000 Page 112.

    Hamilton, Milton W., Editor. The Papers of Sir William Johnson, Volume XII. The University of the State of New York: Albany, New York. 1957. Page 822.
  • (3)__ Braund, Kathryn E. Holland. Mutual Convenience-Mutual Dependence: the Creeks, Augusta, and the Deerskin Trade 1733-1783. Dissertation at the Florida State University. 1986.

    Carter, Clarence E. British Policy Toward American Indians in the South, 1763-1768. The English Historical Review. Vol 33 No 129 (Jan 1918) pp 37-56.

    Cox, B. Heart of the Eagle Dragging Canoe and the Emergence of the Chickamauga Confederacy. Milan, Tennessee: Chenanee Publishers, 1999.

    Finger, John R. Tennessee Indian History: Creativity and Power. Tennessee Historical Quarterly. Vol 54 No 4 (1995) p 286-305.
  • (4)__Jones, Reverend David. A Journal of Two Visits Made to Some Nations of Indians on the West Side of the River Ohio, in the Years 1772 and 1773. New York: Reprinted for Joseph Sadin. 1865 Page 73.
  • (5)__ Houck, Louis. The Spanish Regime in Missouri. Vol 1. R.R. Donnelley & Sons Company. 1909. Page 12.
  • (1)__ Houck, Louis. The Spanish Regime in Missouri. Vol 1. R.R. Donnelley & Sons Company. 1909. Pages 209-210.
  • (2)__ Coker, William S. and Thomas D. Watson. Indian Traders of the Southeastern Spanish Borderlands; Panton, Leslie and Company and John Forbes and Company 1783-1847. University of West Florida Press: Pensacola, Florida. 1986.

    Pate, James Paul. The Chickamauga: A Forgotten Segment of Indian Resistance on the Southern Frontier. Dissertation at Mississippi State University. 1969.
  • (3)__ Coker, William S. and Thomas D. Watson. Indian Traders of the Southeastern Spanish Borderlands; Panton, Leslie and Company and John Forbes and Company 1783-1847. University of West Florida Press: Pensacola, Florida. 1986.

    Finger, John R. Tennessee Indian History: Creativity and Power. Tennessee Historical Quarterly. Vol 54 No 4 1995. Pages 286-305.

    Pate, James Paul. The Chickamauga: A Forgotten Segment of Indian Resistance on the Southern Frontier. Dissertation at Mississippi State University. 1969.

    White, David H. The John Forbes Company: Heir to the Florida Indian Trade; 1801-1819. Dissertation at the University of Alabama. 1973.
  • (4)__ Clark, Walter. Editor. The State Records of North Carolina. 1777-1790. Vol XIV. Winston and Goldsboro. 1896. Pages 123 & 124.



Prior to the Louisiana land purchase of 1803, many Chickamauguans and other dissidents of the Cherokee Nation begin migrating west as they wished to neither surrender to the United States nor continue in war. By 1783 Chickamauga Cherokee began migrating to west of the Mississippi River. Another group of Cherokee migrated to the St. Francis River and later the White River. In 1788, Toguo or Turkey, a Cherokee headsman, made arrangements with Spanish Representative Don Manuel Perez to relocate a group amounting to six villages along the St. Francis River valley in southeastern Missouri and Arkansas or New Madrid. Additional settlements occurred in 1789. The relocations to the St. Francis River Valley is confirmed in 1804 by the observations of Lewis and Clark, whom identify two large Cherokee communities in the vicinity. Later confirmation comes from the observations of William Dunbar. These relocations mark the beginnings of the Chickamauga and Cherokee migrations. Some accounts even provide for Cherokee migrations into the area during earlier colonial wars in which the migrants sought to avoid continued war with Europeans.

The next wave of voluntary migration to the regions of Missouri and Arkansas began in 1794 and continued until 1817. Migrations in this period were small and large ranging from nine families and eighteen families with later estimates in 1807 of six thousand and in 1809/10 of another three thousand. Back in the region of the Upper Tennessee Watershed, 46 settlements were noted for having less than fifteen Cherokee residents by census workers. In 1817, by treaty with the United States government a number of Chickamauga and other Cherokee migrated to Arkansas en masse and established a separate Cherokee Treaty government. Those remaining in the east considered them traitors.

During the forced removal of Cherokee in 1838 associated with the Indian Removal Act passed by the U.S. Congress, the Ocanluftee Cherokee or Eastern Cherokee of North Carolina actively cooperating with the U.S. Army in arresting uncooperative Cherokee citizens residing in the removal towns. This cooperation led the Ocanluftee gunmen to participate in an impromptu firing squad. The defiant Cherokee from towns designated for removal were killed for their role in the deaths of some U.S. soldiers. This is the manner in which the Cherokee of North Carolina were able to avoid removal to Oklahoma.

Later on the U.S. Federal government attempted to force the Arkansas Cherokee Treaty government to integrate themselves into the jurisdiction of the new Oklahoma Cherokee government under John Ross. The Oklahoma Cherokee Treaty government was a result of those Cherokee who were forced to remove themselves from their eastern lands and endure the "Trail of Tears." This attempted reunification of Western Cherokee of Arkansas included the faction that had voluntarily removed to Oklahoma under the leadership of Major Ridge. This effort resulted in the dissolution of the Arkansas Cherokee Treaty government.

Cherokee migrations are much more complex than implied by the typical history associated with the story of the Trail of Tears. The typical history of the Trail of Tears itself has come under a more critical review. Other Cherokee migrations to consider include Texas, Mexico, Ohio, and Indiana. Further, some Cherokee communities remained in Tennessee, Georgia, South Carolina, and Alabama or returned after the disappointment associated with western removal. (1)

Major John Norton traveled among the Cherokee between 1809 and 1810. During this time, Turtle at Home, conveyed to Norton:

...that a party of Cherokees had formed a Settlement on the River St. Francis and White River on the other side of the Mississippi, not far below the Mouth of the Ohio:--that he supposed, there were about three hundred warriors in these Settlements;-- that they had had war with the Osage Nation...A Cherokee chief (The Bowl) had led a party of the St. Francis in 1794; other parties had followed. After the Louisiana Purchase, this whole country belonged to the United States, and the American government encouraged Indians to exchange their eastern lands for territory across the Mississippi.(2)


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