This icon of human spirit has touched my heart since I first read about him in high school. He was a great man, who loved his people. He has been honored in our family as a relative who has crossed over. We love the Spirit of Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce'.
"I am tired of fighting. Our chiefs are killed. Looking Glass is dead. Toohoolhoolzote is dead. The old men are all dead. It is the young men who say, "Yes" or "No." He who led the young men [Olikut] is dead. It is cold, and we have no blankets. The little children are freezing to death. My people, some of them, have run away to the hills, and have no blankets, no food. No one knows where they are -- perhaps freezing to death. I want to have time to look for my children, and see how many of them I can find. Maybe I shall find them among the dead. Hear me, my chiefs! I am tired. My heart is sick and sad. From where the sun now stands I will fight no more forever."

The Cherokee who invented the first Native American Alphabet, called a "syllabary". Allowing for the first Native American written language and the nation's first newspaper produced by Native Americans.


The principal players in the fight to preserve or
to assimilate

A Cherokee Hero!

***Pictures from the Book, "The Cherokees",
by Grace Steele Woodward

During the latter part of the 1700s and early part of the 1800s, Cherokee intermarriages between French, English, German, and Scot-Irish were common and often encouraged among both the Cherokee and the United States Government. Some historians credit the rapid civilization of the Cherokee Nation to those intermarriages. As a direct result of those intermarriages, the leadership of the Cherokee Nation was provided by mixed blood Cherokees. The most noted and influential of those leaders were John Ross, Major Ridge, and his son John Ridge. John Ross appealed more to the full-bloods, while the Ridges appealed more to the progressive mixed blood Cherokees.

While unprecedented in the rapid advancement of the Cherokees, the 1800s proved to be their demise. Georgia, being the last of the original 13 Colonies to be Organized, felt she lagged behind the other Colonies in wealth, and to this end blamed the Cherokees. While the other colonies had extended their boundaries to the Mississippi, Georgia could extend her boundaries no further than Atlanta.

Georgia became envious of the Cherokee's wealth which surpassed that of her citizenry, and demanded that the US Government extinguish the Cherokee's title to land within her territorial limits. The US Government promised to do this in 1802, but was not moving fast enough to suit the Georgia legislature.

Georgia passed laws forbidding Cherokees to own land, to own property, to vote, or to be a witness against a white person in a court of law. The end result of these laws was a holocaust to those Cherokees residing within Georgia. They were robbed, beaten, killed, and slaughtered unmercifully with the encouragement and consent of the State. John Ridge brought suit in the United States Supreme Court in the now famous "Cherokee Cases" that are used as the basis for Indian relations in the US today. In the first case, Supreme Court Justice John Marshall decided not to decide. In his decision he stated, "since the Cherokee Nation was a nation inside a nation, the Supreme court was not a high enough court to render a decision, or hear the case."

The result of this Supreme Court decision gave Georgia the upper hand, and she went about annihilating the Cherokees with a vengeance.

A disappointed but determined John Ridge lobbied Congress, visited with President Jackson, and employed Daniel Webster as an Attorney.

Georgia then passed a law that no white man could live in the Cherokee limits without the consent of the Georgia legislature. This brought into question mixed blood marriages and the right of mixed-bloods to own property or to freely travel. Many mixed-bloods moved to other states to escape Georgia's tyranny. Georgia placed a bounty on Cherokees and would support and defend any citizen who killed a full blood or mixed blood Cherokee. In addition, Georgia instituted the Lottery system whereby she divided the Cherokee Nation into 160 acre tracts. These tracts were then given to anyone who would go and kill the Cherokee family that occupied the tract, with the full protection of the Georgia Militia and court system.

This second Act of Georgia, and the arrest of a white missionary who lived with the Ridges, brought about the second "Cherokee Case" for the Supreme Court. Remembering the results of his first indecision, John Marshall rendered a decision that "Georgia Laws could have no effect within the limits of the Cherokee Nation". President Jackson, upon hearing the decision, made his famous statement that "John Marshall made a law now let him enforce it." In effect, the United States would not enforce the Supreme Court decision and would continue to let Georgia annihilate the Cherokees.

John Ross took the position that this decision meant that eventually the Cherokees would prevail, while John Ridge took the position that refusal to enforce the decision meant genocide for the Cherokee.

John Ridge decided to put his countrymen ahead of his country. He met with President Jackson, who assured him that the end result would be either the annihilation of the Cherokees or their forced removal, but either way, the Cherokee would not remain in Georgia. John Ridge then negotiated a treaty for the humane preservation of his countrymen.

A bitter feud began between John Ross and John ridge, with each accusing the other of wrong doings. John Ridge was furious that John Ross was willing to contend with the atrocities of Georgia, and with Ross' attempt to sell out to Mexico. John Ross was furious that John Ridge agreed to trade the Eastern Lands for an equal amount of land in Oklahoma and the preservation of his people.

The end result was that the Cherokee Nation East was split between the full-bloods on the side of John Ross and the mixed-bloods on the side of John Ridge.

On November 11, 1834, at his home in Running Waters, Georgia, John Ridge, the son of Cherokee Chief Major Ridge, officially organized the Ridge Band of Cherokees, also known as the Treaty Party. The Ridge Band was given immediate recognition by the US Congress, the State of Georgia, and President Andrew Jackson. The Ridge band was made up chiefly of prominent Mixed Blood Cherokees who negotiated the now famous "Treaty of New Echota", which traded Cherokee lands in the east for an equal amount of land in Oklahoma, with an additional $5 Million Dollars for reparations against the State of Georgia. An Article in the Treaty allowed those Cherokees who wanted to remain in the east citizenship and property rights within the states they resided. While Andrew Jackson balked at the article providing citizenship, IT WAS THIS SINGLE ARTICLE that the courts looked to when they finally decided to allow the Eastern Band of Cherokees to remain in North Carolina (US vs. Boyd) and the 1896 Indian Commissioners Report (pages 633-635).

Five years later, in June of 1839, John ridge was brutally assassinated by 25 members of the Ross Party, at Honey Springs, Oklahoma. His father Chief Major Ridge and cousin Elias Boudinot (Buck Watie) were both murdered simultaneously elsewhere.

Following the assassination of the Ridge family, many members of the Ridge Band, fearing for their lives and reprisals from the Ross Band, left the Cherokee Nation.

The bitter feud between the Ross faction and the Ridge faction escalated into open warfare by Ridge's son John Rollin Ridge, who moved to California to escape the gallows, and his cousin Stand Watie (Boudinot's brother), who later became the highest decorated Brigadier General of the Confederacy. Stand Watie also had the distinction of being the last Confederate General to surrender after the Civil War, and the first Chief of the Southern Cherokee Nation.







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