Tecumseh’s return and later events
Before beginning his great campaign, Tecumseh returned to the South in November 1811 hoping to gain the support of the southern tribes for his crusade to drive back the Americans and re-establish the old ways. He was accompanied by representatives from the Shawnee, Muscogee, Kickapoo, and Sioux.
Tecumseh's exhortations in the towns of the Chickasaw, Choctaw, and Lower Muscogee found no traction, the exception being the Upper Muscogee, and even then only among a sizable faction of the younger warriors, the Upper Muscogee headman, The Big Warrior, having repudiated Tecumseh before the assembly.
There was so much opposition from the Cherokee delegation under warrior The Ridge that visited his council at Tuckabatchee that Tecumseh cancelled plans to visit the Cherokee Nation (The Ridge told him if he showed his face in the Cherokee Nation he would kill him). However, throughout his time in the South, he was accompanied by an enthusiastic escort of 47 Cherokee and 19 Choctaw, who presumably went north when he left the area.
The Creek War
Tecumseh's mission did spark a religious revival which is referred to by James Mooney as the “Cherokee Ghost Dance” movement and was led by another former Chickamauga warrior, the prophet Tsali of Coosawatee, who later moved to the western North Carolina mountains where he was executed for violently resisting Removal in 1838. In Tsali’s meeting with the national council at Ustanali, many of the leaders were moved enough to support his cause, until The Ridge spoke even more eloquently in rebuttal, calling instead for support for the Americans in the coming war with the British and Tecumseh's alliance.
This ultimately resulted in over five hundred Cherokee warriors volunteering to serve under Andrew Jackson in helping put down their former Upper Muscogee allies in the Creek War, but only after the Lower Muscogee under William McIntosh, who opposed the war of the “Red Sticks”, asked for their help.
A few years later, a troop of Cherokee cavalry under Major Ridge attached to the 1400-strong contingent of Lower Muscogee warriors under McIntosh accompanied the force of U.S. regulars, Georgia militia, and Tennessee volunteers into Florida for action in the First Seminole War against the Seminoles, refugee Red Sticks, and escaped slaves fighting against the United States.
Following that war, Cherokee warriors were not seen on the warpath in the Southeast until the time of the American Civil War, when William Holland Thomas raised the Thomas Legion of Cherokee Indians and Highlanders to fight for the Confederacy, though warriors from the Cherokee Nation East did travel to the lands of the Old Settlers (or Cherokee Nation West) in Arkansas Territory to assist them in their wars against the Osage during the Cherokee-Osage War of 1817–1823.
With one notable exception: in 1830, the State of Georgia seized land in its south that had belonged to the Cherokee since the end of the Creek War, land separated from the rest of the Cherokee Nation by a large section of Georgia territory, and began to parcel it out to settlers. Major Ridge dusted off his weapons and led a party of thirty south, where they drove the settlers out of their homes on what the Cherokee considered their land, and burned all buildings to the ground, but harmed no one.
On the “Chickamauga” or “Lower Cherokee” as a separate tribe
When a representative of the Moravian Brethren, Brother Steiner, met with Richard Fields at Tellico Blockhouse in 1799, the former Lower Cherokee warrior whom he had hired to serve as his guide and interpreter. Br. Steiner had been sent south by the Brethren to scout for a location for a mission and school they planned to build in the Nation, ultimately located at Spring Place on land donated by James Vann. On one occasion, Br. Steiner asked his guide, “What kind of people are the Chickamauga?”. Fields laughed, then replied, “They are Cherokee, and we know no difference.”
In truth, the Chickamauga Towns and the later Lower Towns were no different vis-a-vis the rest of the Cherokee than were the Middle Towns, Out Towns, (original) Lower Towns, Valley Towns, or Overhill Towns into which the Cherokee were grouped when the Europeans first encountered them. The groupings did not constitute separate political entities as much as groupings for geographic convenience. The only real government among the Cherokee was by town and clan, and though there were regional councils, these had no binding powers. The Chickamauga/Lower Cherokee were no more a separate tribe from the rest of the Cherokee than were the Overhill Cherokee, the Valley Cherokee, etc.
The only “national” position which existed before 1788 was First Beloved Man, which was in reality nothing more than a chief negotiator from the boondocks towns of the Cherokee farthest from the reach of the intruders. Yes, after 1788 there was a national council of sorts, but it met irregularly and at the time had no prescriptive or proscriptive powers. Even after the peace of 1794, the Cherokee were broken up into five groups: the Upper Towns (whose inhabitants were mostly formerly of the original Lower Towns in western Carolina and northeastern Georgia), the Overhill Towns, the Hill Towns, the Valley Towns, and the new Lower Towns (in Southeast Tennessee, Northwest Georgia, and Northeast Alabama), each with their own regional councils more important than the "national" council at Ustanali.
It should be apparent from the number of times which Dragging Canoe spoke to the National Council at Ustanali and the fact that he publicly acknowledged Little Turkey as the senior leader of all the Cherokee, along with the fact that he was memorialized at the council following his death in 1792, that the “Chickamauga” were exactly as Richard Fields said, Cherokee. If that is not enough, there is the constant communication between leaders of the “Chickamauga” with the Cherokee of other regions, the number of times warriors from the Overhill Towns and other groups participating in the warfare, and the number of “Chickamauga” who signed treaties with the federal government along with other leaders of the Cherokee as Cherokee.
Scots (and other Europeans) among the Cherokee
The traders and British government agents dealing with the Southern tribes in general and the Cherokee in particular were nearly all of Scottish extraction, especially from the Highlands, though a few were Scots-Irish, English, French, even German. Many of these married women from their host people and remained after the fighting had ended, some fathering children who would later become significant leaders.
Notable traders, agents, and refugee Tories among the Chickamauga/Lower Cherokee included John Stuart, Henry Stuart, Alexander Cameron, John McDonald, Clement Vann, James Vann, John Joseph Vann, Daniel Ross (father of John), John Walker Sr., John McLemore (father of Bob), William Buchanan, John Elliot, John Watts (father of the chief), James Grant, John D. Chisholm, John Benge (father of Bob), Thomas Brown, Arthur Coody, John Fields, John Thompson, Richard Taylor, Edward Adair (Irish), John Rogers (Welsh), John Gunter (German), Ned Sizemore (English), Peter Hildebrand (German), and William Thorp (English), among many others, several attaining the status of minor chiefs and/or members of significant delegations.
In contrast, a large portion of the settlers encroaching on their territories and against whom the Cherokee (and other Indians) took most of their actions were Scots-Irish, Irish from Ulster of Scottish descent, a group which also provided the backbone for the forces of the Revolution (a famous example of a Scots-Irishman doing the reverse is Simon Girty).
It is a historical irony that those from a group seen as rebels or “Whigs” back home in the Isles became Tories in the Americas while those from a group now considered one of the most “Tory” in regards to the United Kingdom became Whigs in the Americas.
Possible origins of the words “Chickamauga” and “Chattanooga”
According to Mooney, the word “Chickamauga”, pronounced Tsi-ka-ma-gi in Cherokee, was the name of at least two places: a headwater creek of the Chattahoochee River, and the above-mentioned region near Chattanooga, but the word is not Cherokee. He states that Chickamauga may be derived from Shawnee, and indeed there is/was a small town on the coast of North Carolina near Cape Hatteras (noted for a small battle that took place there early in the American Civil War) called Chicamacomico (meaning “dwelling place by the big water”), which is also the name of a river in Maryland. Both these areas were originally inhabited by tribes speaking variations of the Algonquian family of languages, of which Shawnee is one example.
The Shawnee connection to the area should not be taken lightly, as the crossing of the Hiwassie River near Hiwassie Old Town in Polk County, Tennessee, is known as Savannah Crossing, “Savannah” being a corruption of “Shawnee” as well as the name of the Shawnee village on the Savannah River from which the river, as well as the city of Savannah, Georgia, gets its name.
In addition to the Tennessee city of Chattanooga, a community named Chattanooga Valley in Georgia lies just south of the Tennessee city. There is a community of Chattanooga in Mercer County, Ohio, a legacy of the Cherokee who lived there and fought alongside the Shawnee but perhaps of the Lenape or later Shawnee who lived much longer in that area.
True, there is also a town called Chattanooga in the former territory of the Cherokee Nation in Oklahoma, not surprising since southeast Tennessee was the last home of the Cherokee in the East, but there is also a town called Chattanooga in Colorado, a legacy of the Silver Rush, which has no connection to the Cherokee but does lie in the later territory of the Cheyenne confederacy of three Algonquin tribes.
A logical conclusion from all the above is that both place-names in Hamilton County, Tennessee—Chickamauga and Chattanooga—derive from the Algonquin language of the Shawnee.
On the ancestry of Tsiyugunsini
Dragging Canoe, the greatest military and diplomatic leader the Cherokee have ever known, would under the laws of all three of today's recognized tribes of Cherokee be ineligible for membership of any of them, and not just because he doesn't have ancestors on any of their rolls. His father, Attakullakulla, was a Nippissing from the North taken captive during a raid and adopted, while his mother was a Natchez, from the group who lived along Natchy Creek. He did not have a single drop of Cherokee blood.
The three Cherokee tribes require the following blood quantums: United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians, 1:4; Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, 1:16 (originally 1:32); and Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, 1:2064.
These blood quantums would also deny former Principal Chief of the Eastern Band William Holland Thomas and former Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation West John Rogers membership in the tribes of which they held the highest office. They are also the means through which the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma has disenfranchised Cherokee Freedmen from the time of Ross Swimmer and Wilma Mankiller in the 1980's, in violation of several treaties and certain amendments of the Constitution.
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