The Cherokee EAGLE GOLD Coffee Mugs
Several Cherokee Nations and Bands recognized by the U. S. government, representing 250,000 Cherokees, have headquarters in Tahlequah, Oklahoma (the Cherokee Nation and United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians) and at Cherokee, North Carolina (Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians). State-recognized Cherokee tribes have headquarters in Georgia, Kentucky, Missouri, and Alabama. Other large and small non-recognized Cherokee organizations are located in Arkansas, Missouri, Tennessee, and other locations in the United States. A large community has developed in California since the early 20th century by migrations of Cherokee and other American Indians during the "dust bowl" of the 1930s and Bureau of Indian Affairs relocation efforts to the state's urban areas. California may have 400,000 to 500,000 Cherokee descendants alone, the largest of any American Indian group of any state.*******************A 1984 KJRH-TV documentary, Spirit of the Fire, explored the history of the Keetoowah Nighthawk Society, and their preservation of traditional ceremonies and rituals practiced and maintained by the Cherokee after their arrival in Oklahoma. Redbird Smith was an influential Nighthawk member, and the group revitalized traditional spirituality among Cherokees, beginning in the early 20th century. Today there are 7 ceremonial dance grounds in Oklahoma, and these belong either to the Keetoowah tradition or the Four Mothers Society.***********The Cherokee language does not contain any "r" based sounds, and as such, the word "Cherokee" when spoken in the language is expressed as Tsa-la-gi (pronounced Jah-la-gee, or Cha-la-gee) by native speakers, since these sounds most closely resemble the English language. A Southern Cherokee group did speak a local dialect with a trill consonant "r" sound, after early contact with Europeans of both French and Spanish ancestry in Georgia and Alabama during the early 18th century (This "r" sound spoken in the dialect of the Elati, or Lower, Cherokee area – Georgia and Alabama – became extinct in the 19th century around the time of the Trail of Tears: example: Tsaragi). The ancient Ani-kutani dialect and Oklahoma dialects do not contain any 'r'-based sounds. The word "Cherokee" is a derived word which came originally from the Choctaw trade language. It was derived from the Choctaw word "Cha-la-kee" which means "those who live in the mountains" – or (also Choctaw) "Chi-luk-ik-bi" meaning "those who live in the caves." The name which the Cherokee originally used for themselves, and some still use to this day is Ah-ni-yv-wi-ya (literal translation: "these are all the human people" or "Principal People"). Most American Indian tribes' names for themselves mean approximately the same thing. However, modern Cherokee call themselves Cherokee, or Tsalagi.****************The Cherokee speak an Iroquoian language which is polysynthetic, and is written in a syllabary invented by Sequoyah. For years, many people wrote transliterated Cherokee on the Internet or used poorly intercompatible fonts to type out the syllabary. However, since the fairly recent addition of the Cherokee syllables to Unicode, the Cherokee language is experiencing a renaissance in its use on the Internet. As of January 2007, however, the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma still officially uses a non-unicode font for online documents, including online editions of the Cherokee Phoenix.**************The Cherokee nation was unified from a society of interrelated city-states in the early 18th century under the "Emperor" Moytoy, with the aid of an unofficial English envoy, Sir Alexander Cumming. In 1730, Chief Moytoy II of Tellico was chosen as "Emperor" by the Elector Chiefs of the principal Cherokee towns. Moytoy also agreed to recognize the British king, George II, as the Cherokee protector. A decade prior to this treaty, the Cherokee had fought a war with South Carolina for several years. The title of Cherokee Emperor, however, did not carry much clout among the Cherokee, and the title eventually passed out of Moytoy's direct avuncular lineage. One of the most important trading relations between the early European colonies and the Cherokee was the deerskin trade, which peaked around 1750. Beginning at about the time of the American Revolutionary War in the late 18th century, divisions over continued accommodation of encroachments by white settlers, despite repeated violations of previous treaties, caused some Cherokee to begin to leave the Cherokee Nation. Many of these dissidents became known as the Chickamauga. Led by Chief Dragging Canoe, the Chickamauga made alliances with the Shawnee and engaged in raids against colonial settlements (see Chickamauga Wars. Some of these early dissidents eventually moved across the Mississippi River to areas that would later become the states of Arkansas and Missouri. Their settlements were established on the St. Francis and the White Rivers by 1800.**************Eventually, there were such large numbers of Cherokees in these areas, the U.S. Government established a Cherokee Reservation in Arkansas, with boundaries from north of the Arkansas River up to the southern bank of the White River. Cherokee leaders who lived in Arkansas were The Bowl, Sequoyah, Spring Frog and The Dutch. By the late 1820s, the Territory of Arkansas had designs on acquiring the land held by the Arkansas Cherokee. A delegation of Arkansas Cherokees went to Washington, D.C., and were forced to sign a treaty to vacate the Arkansas Reservation. Arkansas Cherokees had two choices: cooperate with the U.S. government and move to Indian Territory (later Oklahoma), or defy the U.S. Government and refuse to leave the Arkansas Reservation area. Around 1828, the tribe split, some going to Indian Territory. Others disobeyed the U.S. government and stayed on the old Reservation lands in Arkansas. Descendants of those who stayed on the old Arkansas Cherokee Reservation lands have lobbied the U.S. Government since the early 20th century to be federally recognized as a Cherokee tribe, but have been unsuccessful. Today, there are thousands of Cherokee living in Arkansas or Southern Missouri who are relatives of these pre-Trail of Tears Cherokee.***********John Ross was an important figure in the history of the Cherokee tribe. His father emigrated from Scotland prior to the Revolutionary War. His mother was a quarter-blood Cherokee woman whose father was also from Scotland. He began his public career in 1809. The Cherokee Nation was founded in 1820, with elected public officials. John Ross became the chief of the tribe in 1828, and remained the chief until his death in 1866. Cherokees were displaced from their ancestral lands in North Georgia and the Carolinas because of rapidly expanding white population, as well as a gold rush around Dahlonega, Georgia in the 1830s. Despite a Supreme Court ruling in their favor, many in the Cherokee Nation were forcibly relocated West, a migration known as the Trail of Tears. Samuel Carter, author of Cherokee Sunset, writes: "Then… there came the reign of terror. From the jagged-walled stockades the troops fanned out across the Nation, invading every hamlet, every cabin, rooting out the inhabitants at bayonet point. The Cherokees hardly had time to realize what was happening as they were prodded like so many sheep toward the concentration camps, threatened with knives and pistols, beaten with rifle butts if they resisted.******In the terror of the forced marches, the Cherokee were not always able to give their dead a full burial. Instead, the singing of Amazing Grace had to suffice. Since then, Amazing Grace is often considered the Cherokee National Anthem.**********Once the Cherokees reached Indian Territory (now Oklahoma), tensions ran high and the suspension of the Cherokee Blood Law was ignored; any citizen was permitted to execute anyone who signed away Cherokee lands.***************On June 22, 1839, after the adjournment of a tribal meeting, some of the prominent signers of the Treaty of New Echota were executed, including the drafter of the law which permitted these executions, Major Ridge, along with John Ridge and Elias Boudinot. This started 15 years of civil war among the Cherokees. One of the notable survivors was Stand Watie. In 1862, during the war, Watie was elected principal chief of the "Southern Cherokee Nation." After his death in 1871, the Southern Cherokee Nation was moved to Kentucky by his Cousin James S. Martin. In 1893, the Southern Cherokee Nation were welcomed to Kentucky and recognized as an Indian tribe by Governor John Y. Brown.**********He was also a brigadier Confederate general during the American Civil War. The Cherokees were one of the "Five Civilized Tribes" that concluded treaties with, and were recognized by the Confederate States of America. However, Chief Ross had planned to not support the Confederacy, and fled to Boston and on to Washington D.C. to talk with President Lincoln, where he explained the Cherokee Nation's strategy during the Civil War. Most of the Nation abandoned the South and become members of John Drew's regiment in support of the North.*****************In 1848, a group of Cherokee set out on an expedition to California, looking for new settlement lands. The expedition followed the Arkansas River upstream to Rocky Mountains in present-day Colorado, then followed the base of mountains northward into present-day Wyoming, before turning westward. The route become known as the Cherokee Trail. The group, which undertook gold prospecting in California, returned along the same route the following year, noticing placer gold deposits in tributaries of the South Platte. The discovery went unnoticed for a decade, but eventually became one of the primary sources of the Pike's Peak Gold Rush of 1859. ************* Not all of the eastern Cherokees were removed on the Trail of Tears. William Holland Thomas, a white store owner and state legislator from Jackson County, North Carolina, helped over 600 Cherokee from Qualla Town (the site of modern-day Cherokee, North Carolina) obtain North Carolina citizenship. As citizens, they were exempt from forced removal to the west. In addition, over 400 other Cherokee hid from Federal troops in the remote Snowbird Mountains of neighboring Graham County, North Carolina, under the leadership of Tsali (the subject of the outdoor drama Unto These Hills held in Cherokee, North Carolina). Together, these groups were the basis for what is now known as the Eastern Band of Cherokees. Out of gratitude to Thomas, these Western North Carolina Cherokees served in the American Civil War as part of Thomas's Legion. Thomas's Legion consisted of infantry, cavalry, and artillery. The legion mustered approximately 2,000 men of both Cherokee and white origin, fighting primarily in Virginia, where their battle record was outstanding.Thomas's Legion was the last Confederate unit in the eastern theater of the war to surrender after capturing Waynesville, North Carolina on May 9, 1865. They agreed to cease hostilities on the condition of being allowed to retain their arms for hunting. This, together with Stand Watie's surrender of western forces on July 23, 1865, gave the Cherokees the distinction of being the very last Confederates to capitulate in both theaters of the Civil War. In Oklahoma, the Dawes Act of 1887 broke up the tribal land base. Under the Curtis Act of 1898, Cherokee courts and governmental systems were abolished by the U.S. Federal Government.These and other acts were designed to end tribal sovereignty to pave the way for Oklahoma Statehood in 1907. The Federal government appointed chiefs to the Cherokee Nation, often just long enough to sign a treaty. However, the Cherokee Nation recognized that it needed leadership and a general convention was convened in 1938 to elect a Chief. They choose J. B. Milam as principal chief, and as a goodwill gesture Franklin Delano Roosevelt confirmed the election in 1941.********W. W. Keeler was appointed chief in 1949, but as the federal government adopted the self-determination policy, the Cherokee Nation was able to rebuild its government and W. W. Keeler was elected chief by the people, via a Congressional Act signed by President Richard Nixon. Keeler, who was also the President of Phillips Petroleum was succeeded by Ross Swimmer, Wilma Mankiller, Joe Byrd, and Chad Smith, who is currently the chief of the Nation (2007).**************The United Keetoowah Band took a different track than the Cherokee Nation, and received federal recognition after the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934. They are descended from the Old Settlers or Cherokees that moved west before Removal, and the tribe requires a quarter blood quantum for enrollment. The UKB members must descend from an ancestor on the Final Dawes Roll of the Cherokee. In recent years, it has become the contention of the band that they are descendants of Old Settlers; however, genealogically most do not, but are descendants of those who came on the Trail of Tears.********The Cherokee system of law was based more on responsibility for wrongful actions than on the notion of "justice" in the Western sense. Rather than justice, the Cherokee system strove for keeping balance and harmony in the spiritual and social worlds. Any killing created an imbalance which required revenge to restore harmony. The clan of the perpetrator of the homicide was to admit and accept responsibility for the wrongful killing. Then the clan was expected to pay the cost. Blood called for blood. The creation of imbalance was tied to the Cherokee religion. When a delict was committed, it created imbalance and tension on the jurisdictional unit. It was believed that the murdered "soul" or ghost would be forced to wander the earth, unable to go to the next world. This created imbalance. The acceptance of responsibility and the death of the killer or one of his clansmen restored balance by freeing the innocent ghost, allowing him to go to the next world. That is why it did not matter who paid the cost for the delict of the wrongful killing. Any death from the responsible clan would suffice to free the innocent man's ghost from this world. An enemy scalp might suffice as well. Once the balance was restored, the relationship between the jurisdictional units or clans continued as if nothing happened. There were to be no hard feelings expressed between family members of the victim or killer. Balance had been restored.*********The modern Cherokee Nation in recent times has excelled and has experienced an unprecedented expansion in economic growth, equality, and prosperity for its citizens under the leadership of Principal Chief Chad Smith, with significant business, corporate, real estate, and agricultural interests, including numerous highly profitable casino operations. The Cherokee Nation controls Cherokee Nation Enterprises, and Cherokee Nation Industries, and Cherokee Nation Businesses. CNI is a very large Defense contractor that creates thousands of jobs in Eastern Oklahoma for Cherokee Citizens. The Nation has constructed health clinics throughout Oklahoma, contributed to community development programs, built roads and bridges, constructed learning facilities and for its citizens, instilled the practice of Gadugi and self-reliance in its citizens, revitalized language immersion programs for its children and youth, and is a powerful and positive economic and political force in Eastern Oklahoma.***********The Cherokee Nation hosts the Cherokee National Holiday on Labor Day weekend each year and 80,000 to 90,000 Cherokee Citizens travel to Tahlequah, Oklahoma for the festivities. The Cherokee Nation also publishes the Cherokee Phoenix, a tribal newspaper which has operated continuously since 1828, publishing editions in both English and the Sequoyah Syllabary. The Cherokee Nation council appropriates money for historic foundations concerned with the preservation of Cherokee Culture, including the Cherokee Heritage Center which hosts a reproduction of an ancient Cherokee Village, Adams Rural Village (a turn-of-the-century village), Nofire Farms and the Cherokee Family Research Center (genealogy), which is open to the public. The Cherokee Heritage Center is home to the Cherokee National Museum, which has numerous exhibitions also open to the public. The CHC is the repository for the Cherokee Nation as its National Archives. The CHC operates under the Cherokee National Historical Society, Inc., and is governed by a Board of Trustees with an executive committee. Current President of the board is Mary Ellen Meredith. Director Carey Tilley sees over the daily operations. The Cherokee Nation also supports the Sundance and Cherokee Film Festivals in Tahlequah, Oklahoma and Park City, Utah, and provides programs and resources for American Indian film makers to participate in the motion picture industry. Many famous American Indian actors are members of the Cherokee Nation, such as Wes Studi.**********Today the Cherokee Nation is one of America's biggest proponents of ecological protection. Since 1992, the Nation has served as the lead for the Inter-Tribal Environmental Council. The mission of ITEC is to protect the health of American Indians, their natural resources and their environment as it relates to air, land and water. To accomplish this mission, ITEC provides technical support, training and environmental services in a variety of environmental disciplines. Currently, there are thirty-nine (39) ITEC member tribes in Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Texas.