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American Indian
Land Cessions
in Georgia
About North Georgia

Since the first Creek(Yamacraw) cession by Mico Tomochichi to James Oglethorpe in 1733, land had been a major concern of the settlers. Cessions by both Creek Indians and Cherokee Indians did nothing to quench the insatiable thirst for land that the Georgians had.

Indian land cessions prior to 1800

1763 The Treaty of Augusta used trails and rivers to create the first defined line between the Creeks and the colony of Georgia.

1773 Creek and Cherokee debts to Georgians were assumed by the state in payment for the land. This included a small portion of North Georgia.

1782-1783 Land to the south and west of the Tugaloo and Savannah Rivers were ceded by the Cherokee and Creek. Both had laid claim to ownership.

1790 Alexander McGillivray, a mixed race Upper Creek ceded land from the Altamaha to the Oconee in The Treaty of New York, signed by President George Washington.

When the United States took the western claims from Georgia in 1802 Yazoo Land Fraud, the federal government promised to remove the Indians from Georgia soil. That year, and again in 1804, the federal government secured cessions of land for the state. Georgia changed the headright system to one it deemed fairer, where any white man with $4.00 could enter a lottery for land stolen from Native Americans.


Andrew Jackson
During the Creek War, General Andrew Jackson routed the Red Sticks, a violent faction of Creeks who had been agitated by Tecumseh, a Shawnee who came from rousing the Seminoles in Florida. As a result the entire Creek tribe was forced to cede the southern third of present day Georgia to the state to prevent further contact with the Seminoles. This was the single largest cession of land to the state, and the beginning of the end of the Creek in Georgia. The Creek ceded additional land in 1818 and 1821. The Cherokee ceded small portions of land in 1817 and 1819.

Both political parties in Georgia favored Indian removal, but when George Troup became governor in 1823 he aggressively moved to resolve the situation. The Creek Nation, first to be removed, were a loose confederation of tribes with various histories and customs. A small faction of the Lower Creek headed by William McIntosh, the son of a Scottish trader and a Creek woman, negotiated with the state although he did not represent the entire tribe. First cousin to Governor Troup, he gave all remaining Creek land in Georgia to the state in the Treaty of Indian Springs in 1825. After ratification by the federal government, Troup moved to swiftly survey and distribute the land. Realizing they were in danger of losing the last of the Georgia land, the Creek murdered McIntosh. John Quincy Adams, the new President, did not consider the Treaty of Indian Springs valid and pressured Troup to stop moving on the Indian Territory.

Emboldened by his victory in the 1825 election, Troup reaffirmed his belief that the Treaty of Indian Springs was valid. President Adams quickly negotiated the Treaty of Washington in January, 1826. This treaty left a small piece of land on the Georgia-Alabama border in Creek hands. Not pleased with the new treaty, Troup ordered the land surveyed for a lottery, including the piece that was to remain in Creek hands. Since the federal government had no real love for Native Americans they allowed Troup to quickly renegotiate the treaty and take all Creek lands in the state. By 1827 the Creek were gone.

The last piece of land controlled by the Cherokee was North Georgia and northern Alabama along with pieces of Tennessee and North Carolina. In 1828 the state of Georgia attempted to bring the Cherokee Nation under Georgia law. The conviction and execution of a Cherokee named George Tassel by the state for the murder of a Cherokee on tribal land in 1830 resulted in an appeal to the Supreme Court of the United States in 1831. In Cherokee Nation v. Georgia Chief Justice John Marshall denied the right of the Cherokee to bring a suit against the state. However, a year later, in a more properly formulated case, Worcester vs. Georgia, the court ruled that the laws of Georgia were invalid in Cherokee land.

The ruling was unenforced by the executive branch. Georgia proceeded with the land lottery of 1832 and gave Cherokee land to settlers who began to move in. Despondent and divided the Cherokee Nation broke into two factions, for or against removal. Chief John Ross led the larger group against removal. Chief Major Ridge, his son John Ridge, and Elias Boudinot, the first publisher of the Cherokee Phoenix, led the smaller group supporting removal. In 1835 Major Ridge and his faction signed a treaty with the U.S. government agreeing to removal in exchange for 5 million dollars. Both the federal and state government were fully aware that Ridge did not represent the majority of the tribe, but they validated the treaty anyway. The three prominent signers of The Treaty of New Echota were murdered by their tribe, just as William McIntosh had been by the Creek.

The quest for land was over. The insatiable thirst that drove Georgia now was quenched.


Cherokee Indians
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