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Cherokee in North Georgia 4
Rebellion and Revolution
About North Georgia

Although the Creek Path conspiracy died quietly, it was just one indication that the Cherokee Nation was not as united as the leaders wanted to appear. Pathkiller was head of the tribe in name only. Men like the aging Charles Hicks and John Ross were the real power-brokers, and they were united in their stand to create a Cherokee Nation.

Having completed the institutionalization of the tribal council, Hicks and Ross began to consolidate their power, which included passing a number of nationalistic laws. In addition to the law forbidding the sale of land to settlers they created a bureaucracy similar to the United States of America. Initially, a bicameral legislature was created, and eventually a Principle Chief in a republican form of government was added. Courts were appointed beginning in 1820.

Creation of the nation served one intent, the overwhelming desire of the Cherokee people to remain in their "Enchanted Land." Having dealt with settlers for more than a quarter of a century, the Cherokee politicians now understood the American's approach to the Nation. In this Indian Nation, property was held "in severally," or "by the tribe." Americans viewed property as being held by an individual. By dealing with individuals rather than the tribe as a whole, Americans succeeded in dividing the nation, creating rifts that destroyed the original Cherokee Nation in Georgia and nearly destroyed it after it moved to Oklahoma.

While Hicks and Ross were the power-brokers they were only powerful while they did what the majority of the Cherokee people wanted. This movement toward nationalism did, however, have some serious opponents. Many of these opponents to the strong government moved west to Arkansas in the early to mid 1820's. Included in this group were Sequoyah, whom the Council had rewarded for creating the Talking Leaves.

Not all of the opponents made this western move. Some still living in the east questioned not only the nationalistic movement of the nation, but the move towards acculturation. Especially grievous to them was the unequal treatment of the Cherokee by the whites. They not only pointed to the treatment of tribal members outside the nation (they were, for example, refused citizenship in surrounding states), but also to the treatment of those that befriended them (the school in Cornwall, Connecticut was forced to close after John Ridge and Elias Boudinot had fallen in love and married white women). "Whitepath's Rebellion," was the name given to the uprising against both the missionaries in the Cherokee Nation and the nationalistic fervor being promoted by Hicks and Ross.

Starting in 1826 the government of the state of Georgia began to extend its laws on the Cherokee. Hicks and Ross were forced to quickly organize the national government of the Cherokee, declaring a constitutional convention**. Unfortunately, many of the representatives of this convention were English-speaking mixed bloods. Hicks and Ross also tried to increase the citizenship of their nation by accepting more mixed-raced children, both of which served to alienate the rebels.

Mixed-race, to the Cherokee, meant children conceived by white mothers and Cherokee fathers. Children conceived by Cherokee mothers, regardless of the father, were already accepted as part of the tribe. In her book The Cherokee Removal, A Brief History with Documents, author Theda Perdue states:

The terms "Half-Breed" and "Quadroon" (one-quarter Cherokee) are now considered pejorative as well as ethnocentric. According to the matrilineal Cherokees, whether a person was a Cherokee or not depended on the status of the mother. If your mother was a Cherokee, you were Cherokee regardless of who your father was...The concern with blood quantum reflected racist nineteenth-century thinking that linked ancestry and culture. However outdated such views may be, these distinctions remain a part of United States Indian policy today.

With the deaths of Pathkiller and Charles Hicks in 1827, and the rebellion by Whitepath and other chiefs, some settlers believed the end of the Cherokee Nation was near. By this time, however, the tribe had evolved sufficiently to transition easily to both new leaders and a new form of leadership.

Schools established by missionaries could no longer handle the educational demands of the Cherokee Nation. In 1827 the Nation began to regulate these mission schools and prepared to start public schools. One growing problem was that of sharecroppers. Many of the settlers who lived in the Cherokee Nation had been loaned land on which to farm. They would then refuse to pay for the land with crops as they had agreed to do.

In 1828 Ross became Principle Chief of the Cherokee Nation. Ross was of great concern to Georgians, and in fact, to Andrew Jackson, soon to be elected President of the United States. Diminutive in size and only one-eight Cherokee, Ross was an able spokesman and an expert negotiator who understood the subtleties of American law. In the overtly racist American society his "white" appearance gave the Cherokee a voice.

The Cherokee Nation had nearly completed a maturation process that began thirty years before. New Echota stood as the capital of a nation with its own language, its own newspaper, a bi-cameral legislature and a republican form of government. The Cherokee Nation celebrated its own arts and sports. The nation was a major producer of salt and saltpeter, beef, swine, corn, wheat, turpentine, pitch, tar, potash, maple sugar, silver and gold. It was the last mineral to which many people attribute the end of the Cherokee Nation in Georgia.

Cherokee civilization in Georgia
The western push of the settlers force the Cherokee to move South and West
Cultural Changes of the Cherokee
The Cherokee accept new technologies to make their lives easier
Rising Tides - Nationalism in the Cherokee Nation.
The Cherokee begin to consolidate the power they have gained and attempt, much to the chagrin of the state of Georgia, to form a government.
Revolution and Rebellion
Flashpoint - Gold
The Georgia Gold Rush brings thousands of men into the Cherokee Nation
Rising Tides - Winning and Losing
The Supreme Court declares the Cherokee an independent nation, so they may only be dealt with by the federal government under the Treaty Clause of the Constitution
Treaty of New Echota
To satisfy the Treaty requirement the U. S. negotiates with a small, radical faction of the Cherokee to sign a treaty
Cherokee Trail of Tears


Cherokee Indians
Explore the life of the Cherokee Indians in their "Enchanted Land"

Article Links
Cherokee Nation
Cherokee Trail of Tears
Cherokee civilization in Georgia
Cultural Changes of the Cherokee
Flashpoint - Gold
Georgia Gold Rush
Revolution and Rebellion
Rising Tides - Nationalism in the Cherokee Nation
Rising Tides - Winning and Losing
Sequoyah
Talking Leaves
Treaty of New Echota

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