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Westernlore Publishers, 1971 Los Angeles

Acknowledgments: THE PREPARATION OF this biography on my direct blood ancestor,

George Guess, alias Sequoyah was a tremendous undertaking and has not been

accomplished alone.

In the winter of 1961, we the seventeen direct heirs met in a cabin on the North

Carolina Cherokee reservation to plan and work on this book. Two of us live in

the United States; the other fifteen live in Mexico. We speak, read and write

our native language in three of the six dialects. This book is an attempt by

the direct heirs of George Guess to correct histprical guesswork. Who George

Guess was and what he did for his people will be chronicled in this book,

contradictory to all literature notwithstanding.

All unpublished documents quoted in this book are in the collection of the

author and the other sixteen heirs apparent of George Guess.

In translating Cherokee documents, we have employed the modern Cherokee system

of orthography to equate with the English language. An interlinear translation

and spelling in English does not equate with that in the Cherokee syllabary.

Most of the old Indian manner of speaking had to be sacrificed in order to

achieve modern day readability. Words in brackets and parenthesis are mine,

except those quoted from colonial newspaper articles. We have chosen not to

translate other Indian tribal names, leaving them by their European given titles

for the reader's clarity.

I wish to express my deep appreciation to members of the Original Cherokee

Community Organization of Eastern Oklahoma for their assistance and valuable

suggestions. Also, last, but certainly not least, to my friend, the late Clyde

Warrior I owe an incalculable debt of gratitude. Before his untimely death in

1968, this Indian warrior encouraged and assisted the seventeen heirs to take


one great step to restore our ancestor's fullblood heritage for the sake of

future historians of Cherokee history. His research made possible certain

government documents necessary in the prepamfion of this book. As for my own

thoughts as they reveal themselves throughout the hook, I apologize to no one.



Acknowledgements v

Introduction 11




Chapter 4- MARRIAGE AND THE PEACE ~ .. 49

Chapter 5- THE UPSETTERS 6i

Chapter 6- CHEROKEE FALL 69



Chapter 9- BRANDED 99

Chapter io-THE CONSPIRACY 111


Chapter 12- A BUFFALO ROBE OF inS OWN 131


Index 145



Who is this man? Frontis.

A copy of the original 92-Symbol Cherokee Syllabary 18

Photocopy from the supposed Army record of George Guess 6o

Photocopy from the supposed Army record of George Guess 90

Photocopy of the i8i6 Treaty with the United States 97

Photocopy of the i8i6 Treaty (lower portion) 98

Photocopy of the 1828 Treaty with the United States 119

Indians crossing a river in the West 120

Affidavit to establish Bounty Land Claim for Sally Guess 130

Introduction: For A QUARTER of a century - from the year 1821 until 1845 -

Sequoyah's name appeared intermittently in the missionary tracts, local and

national newspapers throughout the United States and Europe.

Invention of Letters By A Cherokee Indian. It appears that an Indian, of the

name of See-quah-yah is the inventor under such disadvantageous circumstances as

render him, in our humble opinion, one of the most extraordinary men that the

world has produced. The Universities and other learned societies in Europe would

be only doing common justice to Seequahyah in granting to him the highest

literary distinctions... 1

His life had, in the press, the beat of a spectacular serial story. Over and

over again, the discovery of the Cherokee syllabary by the American press and

public in 1825 proclaimed Sequoyah a Cadmus and the bastard son of a white man

who traded with the Cherokees east of the Mississippi River during the middle of

the eighteenth century.

Like sainthood stories of that period, nothing about Sequoyah's life was known

to the press and the American public, except for

1 Londan Courier, reprinted in the New York American, Vol. IX, No.970; June 8,



the "made-up" information that the missionaries and the progressive leaders

desired to become known. The missionaries wrote an episode in Cherokee history,

and they wrote it to fit their purpose. They twisted the facts to fit the

picture desired. They tagged their fake name "Sequoyah" - a Taliwa tribal name,

and made George Gue~s the helpful "hero" to their civilization movement, knowing

that this Cherokee could do nothing about it. The formal English name of George

Guess is correct.

Sequoyah was a fighting warrior-scribe of twenty-six on that night in 1792 when

the great war chief of his people's faction was shot down. He was known to all

his tribesmen by his given name "Sogwili," meaning "Horse" in the Cherokee

language. The word Sequoyah is meaningless in Cherokeean. But by the end of

those crushing wars of 1794 - the Cherokee fall, and on into the first quarter

of the nineteenth century, his fake name of Sequoyah was to become a symbol of

intellectual achievement in an American Indian society outside the Cherokee

Nation. Inside the nation, east of the Mississippi River, Sequoyah's name for

two decades was a "mark" of resistance to the progressive New Order movement of

mixed-blood leaders, and friendly Cherokee traitors toward Anglo-Christian


Indian Sequoyah was unable to challenge the press, missionaries, and the

Cherokee leaders' "two-faced" fallacy, since non-conforming Cherokees were

considered savages. In October 1816, Sequoyah was caught and tried before a

general council of mixed-blood judges, Cherokee police, and warrior chiefs in

the New Order of the Cherokee Nation. He was charged with witchcraft and

encouraging his mountain clansmen in Tennessee and North Carolina to emigrate to

the West beyond the limits of the United States - to his settlement on the

Brazos River, in what is today Texas.

The Cherokee General Council convicted Sequoyah for witchcraft. The conviction

was an excuse by the ruling leaders to set an example before the Cherokee people

of the "power" of the New Order adopted from the white man's Christian

civilization program.


Sequoyah was branded on the forehead and back. So was his wife. His fingers on

both hands were cut off between the first and second joints, leaving the stubs

and his thumbs. His ears were cropped off, the "mark" of a traitor to the

Cherokee Nation in the southeast for anyone desiring, and encouraging removal

of the people to the West. In the fall of 1816, he and his wife barely escaped

from their tormentors with their lives.

The syllabary had publicly been used since 1795 as a "weapon" to block the

"great experiment" forced upon the Cherokees by the United States government in

order to control and civilize the Indians by the Anglo-American social

standards. As early as 1806, the leaders and the missionaries had seen the

Cherokee marks (symbols) written on homes, barns, fences, trees, leaves, rocks,

and dirt roadways by those trusted conservatives living in the mountains of

Tennessee, Georgia, and North Carolina. They had seen the Cherokees and their

children reading the marks. But the superstitious whites and mixed-bloods

believed them to be the work of Indian children or sorcerers. Perhaps most

important was the United States government's knowledge of the syllabary since


The nation split wide open in 1806, and the conservative Cherokees resisted the

teachings of the missionaries and their fault findings. The conservative leaders

of the nation's faction signed treaties with the United States; ceded lands in

the old na-tion east of the Mississippi for new lands west of the Mississippi,

newly acquired by the United States in its purchase of the Louisiana Territory.

In the fall of 1816, a letter written in the syllabary by Sequoyah to his

halflblood brother, Whitepath, was accidentally intercepted by the Cherokee

police or socalled "Light-Horse Guard" of the nation. Whitepath was forced to

read the contents of the corn shuck letter to the leaders and missionaries, and

to take them and the Cherokee police to the North Carolina mountains where

Sequoyah was staying with his inlaws and his new wife.

It was in the North Carolina mountains, at the village of Sequoyah's father-in-

law, Tsatsi Ughvi, that the Cherokee lead-


ers first tried Sequoyah, and learned that many thousands of Cherokees wrote and

read in their native language. The leaders then began to believe there was such

a mode of Cherokee mark writing and reading. But the idea of a Cherokee native

method of writing and reading was rejected and fought by the missionaries living

in the nation, who felt that anything of Indian origin was repugnant and savage.

These white missionaries came to the Cherokee Nation to stamp out Indian

heritage and culture, and they meant to do exactly that.

The white missionaries, thinking they were a superior race, could not afford to

let mere Indian pagans outwit them and the United States Government's great

civilization prQgram. Therefore, until 1821, the Cherokee syllabary was

concealed from the American public, even though a majority of the fullblood

conservatives were writing and reading their own native language. These rejected

the teachings of the missionaries to become like the whites, for the language

and ways of the foreigners was the destroyer of their inheritance and tribal


In 1816, a tangled web began in the life 0£ George Guess, alias Sequoyah, when

he was caught, tried, and convicted; a web that would indirectly cause the

death, slavery, exile and a Cherokee guerrilla war in the Southeastern, as well

as the Western Cherokee Nation of thousands of Cherokees during the first and

second quarter of the nineteenth century.

Sequoyah was a fullblood Indian of the Cherokee, Taliwa and Tasgigi Tribes who

desired to remain Indian, and to hold fast to his tribal heritage and cultural

teachings. Nearly six feet tall, he was a rugged man, with a keen knowledge and


In 1797, Sequoyah led a group of emigrant Cherokees beyond the sovereignty of

the United States - lands beyond the Red River ruled by Spain. This decision to

leave the homelands of his ancestors was to protect his nonconforming people

from destruction as a tribal people. He refused to make peace and acknowledge

the United States Government's forced "great experimental" civilization program

upon himself, and his people near the end of the eighteenth century, when the

govCrnment's armies finally crushed the resisting Cherokee fighting forces.


The armies of the "new guardian" government had so reduced the Cherokee Nation

to a state of poverty and death of its fighting leaders that it was shattered.

They gloated over the helpless conditions of the Cherokees. Stripping the

Indians of everything, the government sought to take away their dignity, self

respect, and further land cessions by regulated credit trade - dependency. White

man's'ethics were rammed down their throats in the name of conformity, and to

destroy tribal life-ways.

Truly, Sequoyah was different from his reticent tribesmen. He was not a "good

little Indian" who smiled, nodded, and remained silent. He had the guts to stand

and face the conquering for-eigners who were taking his people's life and their

homelands. He was cruel to those who threatened new changes for himself and his

mountain conservatives. But most of all, he hated the fullbloods - "white

Indians" who turned their backs on their own people, heritage, and followed the

Anglo civilization. His devotion to his wives, children, clansmen and tribe was

deep -a devotion that only Indians know and understand. He was a fighter, a

contributor of deeds, for Indians are taught and expected to contribute to the

well-being of their clan and tribe.

Sequoyah gained his training, skills, and knowledge from the cradle - from the

elder ones, fighting leaders, and chosen scribes of the eighteenth century who

dared not quit and give up their lands to the white invasion. These Cherokee

fighters were to become known in Cherokee history as the "hostiles" or outlaws.

They fought violently until their great leader, Dragging Canoe, and most of his

assistant chiefs were killed by the white armies in 1794. 4. Many Cherokee

leaders and warriors influenced the early life of Sequoyah, but none had the

molding of the boy's life more than the great war chief of the Cherokee Nation's

f6ction, Dragging Canoe (Tsiyogunsi).2 Thirty nine years of Sequoyah's early

life was lived in his beloved mountains of North Carolina and Tennessee. Among

the documents which he left that escaped the fires of his enemies

2 The Cherokee meaning of this word is, "the Otter lifts it." Commonly referred

to in literature as Dragging Canoe.


(and he had many) - are those handwritten and handprinted ledger hooks of his

eight children. These present a picture of a gifted, sensitive and strong man

who began life in July 1766 in a brushcovered dirt floor summer Osi 3 in a

Cherokee settlement in the North Carolina mountains.

In 1871, two grandchildren of Sequoyah's daughter Gedi, living in the United

States, sent their grandmother a copy of Harper's Magazine, dated 1870, which

contained an article and the supposed picture of Sequoyah and the syllabary.

These children asked their grandmother many questions about that article and

picture. She wrote to them, saying:.

... Now, the people that write in the newspapers Phoenix and Advocate, and

Harper's book are pretender liars. That which I say to you my grandchildren is

duyughodv (right, just) about my father Sogwali and your grandfather.

That picture I saw of that man they call Sogwali (Sequoyah) in Harper's book is

a joke. That is not the picture of your grandfather Sogwali. That is not the way

he looked. My father Sogwali had no ears, no long fingers. They cut off. That

picture is a fraud. That man is Thomas Maw. Just like that paper that Thomas Maw

is holding in his hand is not the right one. The writing is not right. Just like

what the Rulers say in that book, Laws of the Tsalagi (Cherokee)4. They say my

father went to Washington City, and signed a paper with the unegvs (whites).

They say he went to the meetings when all the people come West. Signed his name

there on their paper. They are liars. He was never in Washington City. He not go

to council in June 1839. He dead. My father Sogwali not live in Indian

Territory. He live in Mexican lands with others of our people in Texas where I

was born.

... He not give our people that which they have... He teach them. Now, my father

Sogwali was no more the son of a white person, than I am the daughter of a black

person. No, they lie. Any fool can make a mark and say Indian did it. Not so! My

father Sogwali not intend our writings be for the whites and traitors to use and


3 Cone-shaped and completely clay-covered, the winter Osi was used by the

Cherokees for a sleep house. The summer one was primary used for the birth of


4 See Laws of the Cherokee Nation, Tahlequah, Cherokee Nation (C.N.). Cherokee

Advocate Office, 1852.


The events that shaped Sequoyah's life and the action he took as he grew up,

began in the first quarter of the eighteenth century. For that reason, it is

necessary to return to that period in this history.



THE CHEROKEES WERE a highly civilized tribe by the end of the seventeenth

century, with an organized government that included many chiefs and priests.

United with the great Appalachia confederacy during the fifteenth century, the

tribe had created its own method of writing and reading, which was comparable to

that of the white invaders. This symbol system had been used by the tribe for

nine summers before European invasion on Gvana-hani (San Salvador Island).

The Peace Chief held the title of Amedohi-The Water Traveler, often recorded in

literature as Moytoy. His council consisted of seven Beloved Men who were elder

statesmen, each of whom represented his respective clan. The Peace Chief

presided over the council, who concerned themselves with the management of

lands, the public granary, and laws of a general nature.

The most influential Peace Chief of the nation was one chsen by the people who

was also a religious leader. He chose his own successor, subject to council

approval, and he had veto power over the selection of the War Chief.

All land was owned by the Cherokee Nation, and it was parcelled out to family

groups according to their individual needs. There was no rental fee.

Agricultural products were given to the public granary on a voluntary basis, and

was then used for the needy. Widows, orphans and old persons were provided for,

and there were no taxes levied.

Cherokee women had many rights and privileges other than domestic duties. Not

only did married women own property,


such as homes, horses, cattle and fields of growing crops and fruit trees, but

they also participated in both the fighting of wars and the Council of War, and

sat with the Civil Council of Peace. Lineage was traced through the Women's


The most powerful Cherokee village during the eighteenth century was ItsOdi

(Chota), often called the City of Refuge. It was the religious center and the

original headquarter5 of the Ani-wodi Clan, whose specialization was the

Priesthood. But to say that Chota was the capital of the nation is like saying

that Lon-don is the capital of the earth, and that the Bishop is the King. Next

to Chota in power was the village of Sogwiligigageihiyi, the headquarters of the

Scribe Society referred to by the Anglos as Serowee, Soquee, Skeequoyah, or the

Devil's Gang Place. 1

After the Appalachia confederacy was shattered in 1716, due to traders'

knowledge of Cherokee religious rituals and the powers of the Peace Chief and

the Women, an enterprising Englishman by the name of Sir Alexander Cuming came

to Chota in the Cherokee Nation in the spring of 1730 to pawn thirteen Cherkee

women and children, kidnaped Slaves, to their relatives, and a quantity of guns,

ammunition and other presents to the Keta-gustah 2 - the Peace Chief. Among the

thirteen Cherokee slaves was one of Chief Tsamasgula's wives, and three of his


There were many days and nights of great feasting, speeches and dancing in

gratitude for the return of the slaves to their relatives. The whiskey jugs and

barrels of white traders were emptied, and bellies were bloated with the

sweetened foul-tasting water.

On the night of March 13, 1730, while a group of the Indians were assembled at

Chota, Sir Alexander Cuming prevailed upon Chief Tsamasgula to drink to His

Britannic Majesty on bended

1 So~called by the whites during the eighteenth century who referred to the

Cherokee symbol writings as "the scratchings of the Devil -Skeenab." Hence

George Guess's fake name. The remnant Taliwa Tribe incorporated with the

Cherokees during the fifteenth century, and. brought their symbol Writings with

them. Descendants of this tribe were often called Saloquoyah, Skeequo-yah, or

Soquee. The Taliwa tribal word means two" in their language. In Cherokeean, the

word "Sequoyah" is meaningless.

2 Uguwiyuhi is the Cherokee term for chief, ruler, king, or anyone with great



knee as he and Ludovick Grant, a trader were doing - to thank the English King

for returning his people whom Cuming said the English had rescued from the

French. This strange white man ceremony Cuming regarded as the Peace Chief's

acknowl-edgment of King George's sovereignty over them. With this much success

Cuming persuaded the drunk chief to relinquish his enormous ceremonial white

heron feather headdress, and his chieftainship, to appoint Attakullakulla, 3 the

English educated half-breed, as "Super-Chief" and himself as Emperor and advisor

to govern the wh4e Cherokee Nation - the white man's scheme to become viceroy of

the Cherokee Nation.

Surprise, anger and jealousy arose among the various village chiefs when Cuming

had Attakullakulla installed as "Super-Chief" at Nequassee (Nunegwasi).

Attakullakulla's mother was a Lumbee-Cherokee woman who had no clanspeople. She

had married a white man by the name of John Carpenter.

Each white nation's king made it a policy of his colonist governor and his

agents to kidnap and send hack to that particular white nation a number of

Indian slaves. These were educated and instructed in the white man's mode of

civilization in order to further negotiations between the whites and Indian

tribes they could not conquer. "Fuse the blood of the two races" be-came the

byword of the Anglos, and there were many Cherokees named Prince Philip, Prince

George, Princess Ann and Princess Marie Louise.

It became apparent to the whites, as well as to the fullbloods, that mixed-blood

loyalties and sympathies lay in their direction. The practice of white-sired

Cherokees of Indian slaves was a method employed by the Anglos to divide and

conquer. This led to hatred and jealousies within the tribe, and to mixed-blood

ap pointed chiefs. So the Cherokee fullbloods formed their own united and


fuflblood organization - Anisunoi, of the Seven Clan Society, which excluded

mixed-blood Cherokees.

3 Atagvnahila, called by the conservative Cherokees Tsalagidihi (Cherokee

killer) because of his love and loyalty to the whites, and his spying activities

among his own people for the benefit of himself and the Anglos.


To show the conquest of the Cherokee Nation and to obtain his viceroyship,

Cuming took Attakullakulla and six chosen mixed-blood Cherokees to England in

1730, where they were entertained, and the Cherokees signed a peace treaty of

alliance and trade with the English. After their return to the Cherokee Nation,

for two years Cuming, and his Jesuit missionaries, reorganized the Cherokee

government, and directed his "Super-Chief", Attakullakulla in the political

affairs of the Cherokee Nation. In turn Attakullakulla bribed fifteen village

chiefs to follow him, and to become allies to the English. But he knew that the

Cherokees would follow the most wise and strongest leader. Indeed he was the

pet' and bribed figurehead of the colonist governors of Carolina and Virginia.

Like kernels of corn shelled one by one from a large cob, the Cherokee Nation

broke into bits. Their organized government fell apart.

The early seventeenth and eighteenth centuries were those of Indian

extermination wherever the Anglo desired important Indian lands. Cherokee lands

were not only important to the whites for trade routes from the southeast to the

southwest to the Gulf, and west to the Mississippi River, but also for the

minerals - gold, silver, copper and lead.

Whenever the Anglos could not force the Cherokees into alliance and s&talled

land~eding treaties, a pretext was found by the colonists and their armies to

come into the Cherokee Nation, rape their women burn their villages, kill both

the old and young, friendly and' hostile, and take others into slavery. Cherokee

warriors who retaliated were hunted down by the whites with men and trained


A common practice of the conqueror was to set the woods afire to flush out the

savages, and to burn them out.

Cherokee extermination is given in the records of a scribe born in 1677, and

dying during the Yamasi War of 1715. Writing on white goat skin, he relates his

experiences and that of a clansman, Utsawi:

... The dogs I hear. Utsawi sees them coming to cave. I stand in cave entrance,

bow in hands. Utsawi has gun. I see many men, white, brown, and black persons

coming with dogs. Running. I shoot two


dogs. Utsawi shoot dogs. White, brown, and black persons come. Shoot guns where

we stand. Tell dogs: Go, go go! Utsawi and me run to cave in river. Hide. Men

come. Shoot in water, not find. Go away. In the fal1 of 1779, the Indian

settlement of Redhorse, 4 birthplace of Sequoyah, remained unconquered. Half the

forty~ix villages throughout the Cherokee Nation could boast as much during the

last sixty years of the white invasion, and the devastating wars to gain a

foothold of southern Indian trade, alliance and lands.

Young Warrior (Gvlihuanida), the village chief, fought back the white intruders

who were vying for his vfllage trade alliance, and who had their eyes on his

valuable lands with trained wolves, skflled scouts and gunmen, and a fleet of

canoes on the villager's river. These invaders were like wild hogs, with snouts

in good acorn ground, rooting and pushing. From his father, Long Warrior, and

the Red Organization of the Warrior Society, he had learned judgment and Indian

strategy in the counter attack.

Isolated like an island, when the French and English began fighting each other

during the middle 1750s, Young Warrior and his villagers were just one of the

Cherokee settlements throughout the vast Cherokee Nation - which included parts

of the states now known as Alabama, Georgia, North and South Carolina, Virginia,

the whole of Tennessee and Kentucky to the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers - who

used Indian judgment in staying out of the white man's wars. He united his

warrior forces under the leadership of the great War Chief of the nation's

faction, Dragging Canoe, in an effort to hold back the Anglo invasion.

Under the leadership of Dragging Canoe, the Cherokee fighting faction had one

ace in the h4e - an effective weapon. This weapon was the Gohwelodi 5 - the

secret written symbols which represented parts of ~lables of the Cherokee

language. It could be written anywhere - on trees, rocks, leaves and the earth.

It sent messages to tribesmen living in parts of seven states, which

4 In the Cherokee language, Sogwiligigageiyi means Redhorse Place - after the

scribe of the village Redhorse, who was Sequoyah's father. The village was

located on Sumac River in Rutherford County, North Carolina. Commonly referred

to in literature as Soquee, Serowee, Skeequoyah, and Talohtefke.

5 "To write, one," a scribe.


was their nation. Yet, it could not be read by the Anglos, nor enemy Indians. It

first had to be deciphered. Only the Cherokee scribes could translate their


Sequoyah's father, Sogwiligigagei was one of the chosen scribes of the Anisahoni

Clan,6 and a member of the Seven Clan Scribe Society. Different clans were noted

for their ability to handle various types of responsibilities. The Anisahoni

Clan specialized in script, although members of the Seven Clan Scribe Society

were chosen from all seven of the Cherokee Clans who had the ancient Taliwa

blood and the superior learning and memory ability. By the beginning of the

eighteenth century, it excluded the mixed-bloods and the friendly traitors.

The Seven Clan Scribe Society realized, early in the eighteenth century, that in

order to protect their lands, they must learn what the white man said - his

language and all about his papers called "treaties." They agreed to try to learn

the foreign language in order to outwit, and combat the foreigners.

Cherokee scribes learning the white man's language would be ironical, except for

one thing - the tribe had, by 1700, one hundred and sixty years' association

with the Anglos. First the Spanish, then the French and English. Each white

nation's colonist governor set up his own missionary projects, and his own

scheme to convert the "heathens."

Some of the friendly Indians from the different tribes fell for the sweetened

water, and the words of the black robe priest or the missionary and his Good

Black Book. But the fullblood conservative Cherokees valued their own religious

beliefs and rites of the Ancient One Above, and could not understand the white

priest or missionary words of a God who would punish people in the burning fires

of hell they talked about for the wrongs called "sins." It didn't make good

sense to the Cherokees, for the whites continually committed wrongs against

their own, their black people, as well as Indians, and the Cherokees thought the

foolish white priest and preacher's mind were confused by the

6 Anisahoni is one of the seven clans of the Cherokees which means "feline." No

Cherokee will accept "Blue" as the clan translation. Some of the clan names as

they appear in literature are mistranslated.


evil spirits. The Indians could certainly see that wherever the glory seekers

went in Indian country, they destroyed Indian religious rituals, and paved the

way for other whites to conquer and exploit. These "good men" preached peace and

brotherhood, and in the same breath endorsed slavery, and wars of their nation.

Although the Cherokee scribes knew that Indian converts could teach them 'the

white man's language, these Christian Indians were encouraged to "go teach their

heathen brothers."

One teacher was a northern Indian by the Cherokee name of Hogshooter. He and his

three able assistants taught Sequoyah's father, Young Warrior, and the Scribe

Society the Latin, French, and English languages, even though there were in them

a concoction of dialect forms. Another Florida Indian priest, named Contri by

his Spanish conquerer, taught them Spanish.

After many years of work and study, a few Cherokees of the Scribe Society were

able to master the foreign language, and could listen to the white man's talk,

though they pretended not to understand what was said.

The Scribe Society taught the young boys not only their own native written

syllabary, but also the three foreign languages. The scribes used a dictionary

for each particular language, given to them by converted Christian Indians. Boy

scribes were chosen from each of the seven Clans to take the elder scribe's

place when going out with the warriors to fight the enemy, and to record the

deeds of their people who were kflled or taken by the enemy.

Although the Cherokees had their own written language, oral story telling was an

art and necessity. The Indian's method of teaching was to instill in the child a

desire to become a good speaker, a brave warrior, a strong and wise leader, and

a study of nature and tribal history.

Indian children were taught from birth. Each child participated in every phase

of tribal life. The tragic conditions which threatened the lives of their people

were understood by even the smallest children.

Sequoyah was born in a time of Cherokee war and constant turmoil, not only with

the white conquerer, but also with other Indian neighbor tribes whom the Anglos

paid to help break


down the fighting Cherokees. His Cherokee-Taliwa wisp of a mother, Lisi, had

fought on the borders of the nation and the bloody battlefields within the

nation by the side of her Cherokee-Tasgigi husband Sogwiligigagei. She had

distinguished herself many times through her bravery in capturing enemy Indians,

and drawing the Anglo enemy into ambush, where the warriors waited to annihilate

them. For her bravery, and also because she was a Dasgidigi (medicine woman),

she attained the rank of Agiyvgvga - Beloved Woman.

Indeed, as Sequoyah grew up he acquired warrior skills as well as being chosen a

scribe, learning to keep the records of the Aniwahhya (Wolf) Clan, of which his

mother was a member.

In the fall of 1778, Lumbee Indians, whom the Cherokees called "Slave Catchers,"

escorted a white trader by the name of Butler over the Indian mountain path to

their village. They led a train of horses tied tail to tail, and packed high

with foreign goods. A bell tinkled around the neck of the lead horse to let the

Cherokee villagers and their tame white wolves know that white traders were

coming with new and better goods than that which they had been traded with

various Indian traders throughout the north and southwest. "I sell cheap,"

Butler told each Cherokee village he visited.

But Young Warrior told trader Butler: "I only talk with Indian traders. As for

the whites, where they live, I have nothing to say to them, and they shall never

come here."

With this unexpected blast of Cherokee talk, the trader thought he could get

around the scribe of Sogwiligigagei village to talk more favorably on Cherokee

trade business. What Sequ~ yah's father Redhorse told trader Butler confirmed

the thinking of Young Warrior. He said to Butler: "Where the white man walks, my

people disappear. We have nothing to trade to the whites."

Trader Butler was red-faced and angry. He shook his fist at both Cherokees, and

said: "By God, you GM' damned red bastards will break. Our armies will come here

to these mountains with guns, and your people will all die. Your villages will



to the ground like the others. You will hear my words again, you red Skeequoyahs

- Devils."

The Indian trade was a business with the Anglos. Each European nation played

against the other in the contest for the Indian continent. The English vied

against the French and Spanish people. The Indians were caught fighting in the

middle, trying to carry on trade with their own Indian traders, hundreds and

even thousands of miles away.

For the most part, Indian to Indian traders were curtailed and put out of

existence by the mid-eighteenth century. Yet, there were still some few in the

southwest and northeast who came by canoes, bringing not only their own trade

goods, but Aso those foreign made goods that Indian traders obtained from the

French and Spanish people.

The Spanish learned from the Indian traders in Florida, and on the coast of what

is now Texas, that the Cherokees traded their sacred gold to Indians. Since gold

was what the Spanish wanted, they gladly trained their Indian trader vassals the

technique of trading for gold in exchange for their germ-infested merchandise.

By 1780, there were only six mountain Cherokee villages remaining in the nation

where gold could easily be taken out of the ground and streams. Nuggets,

sometimes as large as a quail's egg were washed out by flood waters Aong the

creeks and rivers where these villages were located. Redhorse village was one

where gold, the gift of the Earth Mother, had been taken for Cherokee rites for

more than a thousand years.

For more than fifteen years, during the middle of the eighteenth century, the

Cherokee village of Sogwiligigageihi had become well-known to the South Carolina

colonists. The following article appeared in the Boston Gazette on May 22, 1763

- A Report From Charles Town:

... The Talk From the Standing Turkey is full of Pretences. That he is desirous

of Peace; that all things past may be forgot, and trade restored and carried on

in the usual manner; that every thing was now quiet over the Hill; that he had

indeed heard a Noise of Guns and went to see what was the Matter, and was very

much surprised to find


the young People firing at Turkeys (Tufkegee, Fort Loudoun) that after four days

he bid them be quiet, and all Differences should now be forgotton; that he had

sent for all Parties out at War to come in, and was desirous of burying the

Hatchet, &,&,&. The String of Wampum has one black Bead on it, which he desires

may be thrown away by the Governor, as it represents the Young Warrior of

Skeequoyah, (Serowee, Devil's Gang Place) whom he blames for the present

Disturbances. At the same time that this Peace-Talk is come, we hear of the

scalping Gangs of Cherokees being more numerous than ever, and extending in the

Settlements from the Little Saloquoyah quite to Salibury in North Carolina....




IN THE SPRING of 1779, the two Cherokee factions had three things to show for

more than two centuries of dealing with the whites: Their nation had been

whittled in size by many millions of acres in fiction treaties with the English

colonist - the biggest slice of land having been ceded to Richard Henderson and

Nathaniel Hart. This tract of land is today the states of Kentucky and

Tennessee. Almost half of the Cherokees had died from "planted" germ-infested

traders' merchandise and wars with the Anglos.

Their war-torn nation sported two former English forts 7 trader's villages

dotted the nation, English and rebel American government agents, white squaw men

and women - citizens of the na-tion who had obtained their citizenship by

marrying a friendly's daughter, sister, or brother; white squatters living on

lands not ceded, rogues looking for a place to escape and for the excitement of

stirring up trouble among the Cherokees, and public roads which criss~rossed the

nation from the four cardinal points. All these conquests that the Anglos had

been able to achieve was due to the superb feat of the white's trained spy and

figurehead, Attakullakulla, and his paid followers.

Time after time, the Aniwahhya Clan sent out its selected warriors to eliminate

Attakullakulla, only to find that he was too well guarded in one of the Anglo's

forts, or his own Fort Attakullakulla on the Little Tennessee River. Even when

he left the forts, he was always protected by a white guard of ten men who


escorted him from place to place in the nation and the white setilements.

The Cherokees living in the remote mountain coves of Tennessee, North Carolina,

and Georgia were not about to give up their homelands to the invading Anglos.

Spring was a time of planting - of going to school with nature. While groups of

women, girls, and boys planted the plowed fields in corn, beans, peas, cotton

and melons, armed guards of young boys and old men were posted day and night on

the mountain ridges surrounding the villages and the paths leading down to their

homes. Everyone worked, even the smallest child helped its mother or father in

whatever each was doing.

One of Sequoyah's duties was that of night guarding the mountain path leading

down to his village.

The drive and warning to break the Cherokees given to Young Warrior and

Sogwiligigagei by trader Butler in the fall of 1778, came as true as the wild

turkeys going to their roosting place each night in the tall pines at the foot

of the Big Mountains.

Colonist armies came in the month of April (Guwoni) 1779, as they had in

previous years by the easy-to-reach water routes along the Big Tennessee, Saluda

and Chattahoochee Rivers, leaving the stockade fort of Attakullakulla safe.

Every Cherokee village throughout the Big Mountains was full of refugees -

brothers and sisters and their families fleeing the white armies with their big

iron guns, the dead and burning villages left behind them. Running to the one

place of safety, which had in times past, protected them from their enemies -

the Big Mountains.

Among the eleven villages destroyed in the spring of 1779 was one belonging to

the great and beloved War Chief of the nation 5 faction, Dragging Canoe, and

those villages of his assistant chiefs located within five to eight miles of

each other on the Cherokee River Lthe Holston of the whites]. Dragging Canoe and

his clansmen sought sanctuary with their brothers and sisters in Sogwiligigagei

village, and other mountain Villages

This giant of a man and war chief was the guiding strength and hope of his

peoples' faction. He was a man of action and


strong words. His deep and smoldering resentment over the years of being

swindled out of ancestral lands, and the political assassination of his father

Gvlihudhanisi (Tennessee Warrior) whom the little spy Attakullakulla pointed out

to the governor of South Carolina in 1761, led to friction and bad feelings

within the factions. Like his father, he had the judgment and guts to stand up

to the conquering Anglos and their friendly and paid puppets. To them, he was

the dust in their eyes.

There was much anger and uneasiness about the white man's destruction of

Cherokee villages; about the land ceding treaties made by the white appointed

chiefs living in the stockade built villages, called by the whites "Peace

Towns," along the upper reaches of the Big Tennessee and Saluda Rivers. There

was much flossip among the women of the village who, like hornets when their

nest is torn up by wild hogs, demanded their men and women warriors fight back

the whites and protect their homelands.

During the month of October (Duninodhi) 1779, a council was held in

Sogwiligigagei Village in the newly erected, large seven-sided council house of

all the village chiefs, and their warriors from the thirty-two fighting villages

throughout the nation. They were advised by Young Warrior to come to the council

to hear the "talk" of their great war leader, Dragging Canoe, and to decide what

to do about their appointed White Chief of Ithe whole nation, Attakullakulla,

and his unauthorized and continual ceding of their lands, and constant spying to

the for-eigners.

In the firelit council house, among the seven boy scribes who sat in the far

back row in space assigned to his clan, the Aniwahhya, was the boy

Tahlontisoge,1 son of Sogwiligigagei, the village scribe. He was called by all

in the village Sogwili, which means "horse" in Cherokeean. In the years that

followed, this boy's name was to become changed by the whites, and become the

hated symbol of resistance to the foreigners' teachings.

Only thirteen, his scalplock (guedla) almost reached his tall father's gold band

earrings, Sequoyah had killed his first enemy,

1 One who upsets horse.


a Lumbee Indian, squatting in the tall canes along the Sumac River early one

morning the previous summer. The Lumbee, waiting to capture a Cherokee woman

from the village when she came for the clear running river water, and sell her

to the white slave buyers on the Amegwa (Big Water); Sequoyah shot him with bow

and arrow in the butt, just above the Indian's anus. After removing his scalp, a

group of gadugi2 buried the Indian.

Sequoyah listened attentively to each of the council speakers. This was part of

his training and apprenticeship into the Seven Clan Scribe Society. It was an

important society, and it stood apart from others in a particular way. This

difference - this superiority had come about a long. time ago. Before the white

man came, there had been received into the population of Sogwiligigageihi a

small group of immigrant Indians from the Southwest. The immigrants were a

wretched people, and they had experienced great suffering. Their lands were the

plateau country of the Great Plains. For many years thieves and hunters had

taken a toll of their people. At last they had given themselves up in despair -

their spirit broken. But it was not a human enemy that had overpowered them. It

was famine. No rain fell. Crops failed, and game left their lands. Less than

twenty-five survivors remained of this tribe. It is said the Great Sun told them

of their distant relatives in the Great Mountains to the East. They walked

there. It took more than a year to reach the mountain valley of

Sogwiligigageihiyi. It is said that the great, great, great grandfather of

Sequoyah's mother went out with a delegation to welcome and escort the Taliwas

into their village. The ragged group brought with them little more than the

clothes on their backs, but even in this moment of deep hurt and humiliation

they brought, of themselves as a people, one great gift - the thin gold plates

of their written language. Now, after the intervening years and generations, the

ancient blood of this tribe still ran in the veins of men of the Seven Clan

Scribe Society.

Scribes recorded the cultural and historical events of the tribe, and

participated in all council meetings, national as well as local.

2 A group of volunteer unpaid workers.


They took part in recording feats of bravery, death and action on the border and

battleground warfare. Not only was it a requirement to have a keen learning and

memory power, but also they were trained warriors, with stamina and daring


After the council adjourned, Sequoyah and the six boy scribes would write the

words of the Ancient Ones. Writing on corn shuck pressed paper, they remembered

the exact words spoken by each of the speakers in his or her dialect of the

Cherokee language.

Sequoyah's writing and that of the other six boys was carefully read by

experienced and elder scribes, to determine whether the boys had good memories,

and had written accuratcly all that was said by each of the council speakers.

That windcold evening in October 1779, Sequoyah listened to the speech of Young

Warrior, who reminded the people that he knew the weakness of the one the whites

called Attakulla-kulla, one not of the people's choosing - one who whispered to

the enemy, and pointed his finger in the direction of those villages whose

chiefs fought and defended their homes, women, children and lands; who refused

to become allies and follow forced orders of any white nation. These were the

villages that disappeared in the smoke of the white man's fire.

Young Warrior told them that he was aware of Attakullakulla's spies-the Lumbees,

Slave Catchers, who stole Cherokee women and children for the white slave place

on the Big Waters. Young Warrior ended his talk by saying: "Chief Tsalagidihi

has no clanspeople. He is weak. Only fools follow a weak leader who works for

the enemy. I have not forgotten my brother, killed by his hands. I think this:

We should be guided in the tracks of our great leader among us - him there,


When the Red War Chief of the nation's fighting faction spoke, the Council House

was quiet. All one could hear was the rhythmical breathing of the people. He


Beloved brothers and sisters, in times like these I say this that I am thinking:

No more will our people run, like the black fox to the mountains and caves to

hide. No more will we listen to the weak ones


that drink the whites' sweet water, go mad like the wild dogs in the mountains.

Give our women, our children, our lands to the whites. No! We fight. The

Northern Indians say they help; the Southern Indians say they help. We

Anitsalagi unite with them, use our strength; build brown wall to the east of

the Big Mountains, hold back whites. I say this: We break the Weak One, like the

bad bird egg that is pushed from the nest, he must go....

In February 1780, fourteen-year-old Sequoyah watched and listened as his father,

Sogwiligigagei wrote the names of the forty warriors who were carefully selected

by Dragging Canoe to destroy the fort of Attakullakulla, located on an island in

the Little Tennessee River.

Led by Young Warrior and his assistants Bench, Doublehead, and Black Fox, he

watched as they marched off in small groups across the zig-zag mountain path

toward Attakullakulla's stronghold. Finding the fort deserted, it was an easy

matter to burn it down - after first helping themselves to the white trader's

stock of goods.

Scouting the area of the island, the warriors found the Cherokee Killer with all

his family, guards, slaves, and many other white people hiding in the woods. The

warriors fought the white man's friendly Cherokees all night. When daylight

came, Young Warrior had lost nine good warriors, and five were wounded. But

Attakullakulla and most of his family, slaves and many of the whites were dead.

A few fled into the icy waters of the Little Tennessee and escaped.

Among Sequoyah's documents is the South Carolina Gazette, with a small article

on Attakullakulla's death. It appeared on July 3, 1780:

... An Account is juft now received, that the Little Carpenter (Attakullakulla)

and his Women and Children have been lately killed, and scalped in their own

Country by their own people; and that two very large Gangs of Cherokees, one of

them being Otter Tale (Dragging Canoe), the Other Young Warrior, are fet out for

the Frontiers of North Carolina while the others pretend to treat of Peace with



Although the Cherokee fighting faction knew that reprisals on the white's spy,

Attakullakulla would be forthcoming, the Cherokee push and war was on all along

the borders of their nation. War with the whites became strong and bloody.

Chief Young Warrior and his warriors were constantly away from their village,

with Dragging Canoe's forces on the borders of Tennessee and North Carolina,

fighting the white enemy.

Then in the early daylight hours in the late spring of 1780, the colonial army

came to Sogwiligigagei village.

Silently they came, in canoes, through the heavy fog that hung over the valley

and Sumac River. Like cats stalking through the tall grass, the foot soldiers

slipped through the tall canes along the river upon the sleeping village of old

men, women and children, and sick persons.

Sequoyah, a boy of fourteen, and Uhyalug, were night guarding the only trail

leading into the settlement from the mountain above. At the same time, they were

keeping watch on the village milk cows and horses night grazing on the side of

the mountain below them. The boys looked down through the haze and caught a

glimpse of the soldiers creeping toward the village. Sequoyah wondered why the

pack of tame wolves and dogs failed to charge the enemy, and awaken the people.

He could not then know that Choctaw scouts had slipped in during the night, and

laid poison meat along the river for the animals, all were dead.

Sequoyah and Uhyalug gave the distressed turkey cry to the sleeping people, and

began shooting at the soldiers. Uhyalug ran to the top of the mountain to beat

the drum that had been hidden away in the cave for the purpose of signaling for

help from neighbor villages over the mountains. 8

When the first shot was fired, the people came out of ?heir homes - old men and

women, shooting and clubbing with guns, knives and hatchets. The younger women

ran with the children toward the river and the fleet of canoes, only to be met

by the

8 Drums were not used by Woodland rndians for signals, since the sound could not

carry any distance because of heavy woods and mountains. In this one Cherokee

village, the drum was used. From the top of the Mountain to the valley below, a

distance of 4½ miles, the drum was very effective.


blast of guns from the soldiers who were left guarding their escape route.

Sequoyah saw his sick father and tiny mother shot down in Ifront of their home,

as they came out firing at the soldiers. He saw his three elder sisters running

toward the river and the woods, and tall canes along the river, where all young

women and chil-dren were attempting to escape to their canoes. He crept closer

to the village, and was joined by Uhyalug, who informed him that horse soldiers

were coming over the mountain trail to the village.

The boys kept firing at the soldiers until their ball and powder ran out. All

they could do then was to watch from a tall bushy pine tree, where they were

forced to retreat and wait for help to come from other villages.

But the help they wished and waited for never came. Soldiers were also

destroying the other mountain villages nearby.

Sequoyah looked down in pain, anger and distress upon the one-way slaughter of

his people, unable to help them. The peopie were fighting with all their Indian

skill and strength against the guns and swords of the white and black soldiers.

Smoke rose in the village from the hundreds of guns firing. Sequoyah could see

and hear the thrust of steel swords into Indian bodies. There was yelling,

yelling, yelling of the soldiers, and the screaming of Indian children who

managed to escape the gun blas?. Mothers, grandmothers, grandfathers, brothers

and sisters lay about like rocks.

Hundreds of mounted soldiers arrived over the mountain trail to help in the

Cherokee slaughter. Having killed all the old men and women fighters, having

shot those who were wounded, to make sure they died, the soldiers began rounding

up and dragging the women and children out of the tall canes and woods along

Sumac River. These were marched back to the scene of the battle. Women and

children who were injured were shot. Sequoyah's eldest sister Guyutse, wounded

in the legs, was killed alongside the Sumac River.

Mounted soldiers, in groups, rode wildly through the planted fields of young

corn, cotton, beans, peas and potatoes; swinging their swords, slashing and

destroying with the trampling feet


of their horses. All Cherokee horses and cattle within the valley were shot.

Then the soldiers plundered the smokehouse of hams and other dried meats. They

took all fruits and vegetaNes that were easy to load on horses or in canoes. The

communal corn cribs and Cherokee homes were set afire.

While the women and children watched their homes burn, all around them they saw

their dead, and the few soldiers hlled lying in their blood. White and black

soldiers began their work of collecting Cherokee scalps and privates, throwing

them into Cherokee made baskets, and putting some of the women's breasts in

their pockets.

Cherokee children screamed, and the women sang their magic protection

idigawesdi, 4 for they knew they would be killed - or worse, taken into slavery.

In less than four hours from the start of the massacre, every Cherokee man and

woman fighter was killed, fields and homes destroyed, and the horses and canoes

of the murdering soldiers were packed with cured meats, fruits and vegetables.

Soldiers ordered some of the women and children to the Cherokee canoes on the

Sumac River, where they were taken into slavery. Home soldiers led the way,

others behind and on each side of the remaining women and children, marched them

out of the valley, over the mountain trail, using them for a shield and

protection to reach the white settlement in South Carolina.

After the soldiers marched out of Sogwiligigagei valley, Sequoyah and Uhyalug

descended to the ground, and ran to their burning village to see if some of

those shot were still alive. What greeted their eyes was one of butchery -

Cherokees with their heads cut off, scalped heads, private parts cut off, and

their bodies slashed open. Others had been thrown into burning homes.

Finding none of their people alive, the boys ran, following the horse soldiers,

and giving the eagle distress call for help to those who might hear in the other

villages. Help never came.

4 "To say them, one," the plural of igawesdi. A magical incantation which a

Cherokee can merely think, sing, or say. The power in the magical charm is in

the thoughts of the one who says the text, directed toward the recipient.


The boys followed the horse soldiers and their people to the white settlement in

South Carolina. In no way could they get close enough to the women and children

to help them escape. They had only rocks in their hands for weapons.

Sequoyah and Uhyalug returned to their nation, and walked through the mountains

to Dragging Canoe's newly built village on Crawfish Creek, a tributary of the

Big Tennessee River, near what is today Chattanooga.

Groups of volunteer workers from Dragging Canoe's village went to the valley of

Sogwiligigagei, and buried the dead. The village was never rebuilt.

Chief Young Warrior and his force of sixty-nine warriors, including Whitepath, a

shaman and the halfblood brother of Sequoyah, and the two boys, remained in the

village of Dragging Canoe. He was their great war chief and brother.




To THE CHEROKEES throughout the nation, the news of the attack on the powerful

and beloved village of Sogwiligigagei, and the other eight villages in the Big

Mountains, raised the war whoop and the blood-red war hatchet. Never had the

fighting Cherokees been whipped like this - a whole village wiped out at the

hands of the enemy, almost one hundred left dead on the ground, their women and

children carried off into slavery by the white enemy.

Sequoyah strained for revenge on the whites. His one desire and objective was to

kill as many Anglos to pay for the deaths of his mother and father, and his

other relatives, and to capture whites for Cherokee slavery whenever and

wherever he could find them in his nation. He knew that fighting the enemy was

not done haphazardly. Training and experience had to be gained first, and

learned under the wisdom and guidance of a great war leader.

Nowhere in the Cherokee Nation could he have "walked in the tracks" of a greater

war leader than Dragging Canoe.

Dragging Canoe was trained from birth for his position as war chief of the

nation. Nineteen years before, his father Gvlihudhanisi, chief of Tellico (Tahli

or Taliwa), located on the Long Island of the Holston (Cherokee) River, was one

of the twentyfour village chiefs who were murdered by the soldiers at Fort

Prince Ceorge under a pretense "peace treaty" between Governor Lyttelton and



Dragging Canoe was shrewd and skilled. In his youth he had become a master of

the English, French and Spanish languages. [Je had been taught by several

different white educated Indian teachers in the Northeast, as well as southern

Indian Spanish teachers. All were able men.

Sequoyah lived in Dragging Canoe's village. He and Uhyalug became his adopred

sons after the massacre of their people. But the free times away from the whites

were over for the mountain boys. Dragging Canoe's new village was only a

distance of nine miles from the Great Island1 in the Tennessee River, formerly

Attakullakulla's "peace town Fort, where colonist Indian commissioners and

traders had set up their trading place and whiskey still. Every Anglo spy,

murderer, thief, whore, robber and runaway army deserter and bound slaves, both

white and black, congregated in this "White Roost," and others like it in the

Cherokee friendlies' villages throughout the vast nation.

During the hot summer of 1780, while Dragging Canoes forces fought on the

borders of their nation, volunteer groups of workers had built six additional

new warrior villages near his village on Crawfish Creek. This chain of villages

was for the purpose of controlling the white invasion that used the main water

route through the nation - the Tennessee River, and the confederation with the

Creeks and Chickasaws. The viUages were Fighting village on Ocee (White) River,

just over the Tennessee line, today Walker County, Georgia; Red Clay on Red Clay

I,Creek, below today Chattanooga in Dade County, Georgia; Lookout on the east

side of Lookout Creek near Lookout Mountain; Chestua (Tsistu) on Rabbit Creek, a

tributary of the Tennessee River near Cleveland; Running Water near the present

Hale's Bar Lock and Dam; and Crow village on Crow Creek near the present

Stevenson, Alabama. After these villages were built, they were filled to

capacity with a village chief, trained warriors and their famflies of the

Cherokee Nation's fighting faction, and confederacy with the

1 Great Island has been confused in literature as Long Island, or one of

Dragging Canoe's seven (not five) Chickamauga (Crayfish) towns. It was given by

Attakullakulla to his white friends.


northern, southern, and southwestern Indians who were striving to hold their

lands from the white ones who called themselves Americans.

In the late summer of 1780, Sequoyah went with Dragging Canoe and a delegation

of assistant village chiefs and warriors to the Cherokee settlement on the Ohio

River that was united with the Shawnees,' and other tribes of northern Indians.

The Cherokees attended a council of the Shawnees, their socalled enemies, and

listened to the speakers in which Dragging Canoe and Sequoyah wrote in two of

the six different Cherokee dialects the Shawnee talk:

... Beloved brothers we are glad to see our southern neighbors among us All that

is passing among us, you are to know. We have our war hatchets, our guns, they

shall not be buried until all whites go beyond the sea. The Long Knives will be

soon coming to your country. We will help you. Our warriors, our guns, they

shall help you drive them out. We ask our southern brothers to go visit all our

brothers, and take this straight and strong talk. .

The Cherokees took the talk of their northern brothers to the Isouth - to the

Creek and Chickasaw fighting confederacy; and to other tribes in the southwest

who were struggling for their homelands, and had not become household pets of

the white man and his sweetened water, words and presents. They opened their

fortified villages and hospitality to the fighting Shawnees, Miami, Creeks and

Chickasaws, and everywhere in the nation the whites pushed for the prized

Cherokee lands they became a battleground of Indian and white slaughter.

The friendly agency chiefs, seeing the confederated fighting movement in the

nation, came to Dragging Canoe's village, bringing along their white advisors to

talk peace and friendship with the white ones. These Uncle Tomahawks who had

found security in the white establishment were unable to move unless a white man

was tagging along with them. Tassel (Old Tassel), who replaced Attakullakulla as

peace chief of the friendly faction of the nation, and his chosen war Ichief,

Hanging Maw (Hanging Paw) were educated, advised, and bribed by the colonist

Indian agents.


To Dragging Canoe, his assistants, and warriors, these two good Cherokees told

of the changing times that had come to their nation since the white's

Revolutionary War. And the good ones thought, now that the white Americans had

beaten the Fnglish king's armies, that Indians should live in peace beside their

white neighbors. Tassel said: "It is of no use to fight so many. They are as the

stars above, count them! We keep the peace....

But Dragging Canoe replied: "You say you keep the peace with the whites. Not

fight. How you keep our lands? How you protect our women and children whites

take for slaves to use? No! You give to whites, enemies of our people. I listen

no more to evil weak ones. Go to your side of upper mountains, live with whites.

We fighters take care of ourselves, our people. ..

Sequoyah, uneasy and troubled, sat in the firelit Council House listening to and

writing of the talks of the leaders of the split nation.

Indeed, the pampered friendlies and the fighting Cherokees were constantly at

one another's throats through the agitation of the whites. The friendlies sat

around the traders' stockade village; drinking the white man's whiskey and

receiving his bribes for helping the colonist armies whip and destroy their own

fighting people. These "good Indians" in every tribe in Indian America killed

their own clansmen and tribesmen. The trained scourge and Uncle Tomahawks of the

white man, who when com-manded to squat, these good tools squatted. They had

become so obligated to the Anglos that they were unable to see or to learn that

the whites made no difference between their friendly "pup-pets" and the

hostiles, when it came time to rid the country of the Cherokees. The friendlies

were shot and killed the same as their fighting brothers as quickly as their

useful purpose had been fulfilled.

By the time Sequoyah was seventeen he was a trained and skilled warrior, and had

mastered the duties of scribe under the guidance of Dragging Canoe.

In the white settlement between the rivers called by the whites Clinch and

Powell, Sequoyah, war painted, and having said a


battle charm for power and protection, raided the new white settlement on

Cherokee burned-out village lands early one morning in May 1783. Led by Crane,

one of Dragging Canoe's assist-ant war leaders, the small party of eighteen

warriors surprised the whites when they came out of their homes to get water at

the spring and to tend their livestock. The warriors opened fire upon them,

killing eight% while others fled in many directions to hide in the woods and

along the creek. Capturing a man by the name of Fitzgerald, the warriors set the

homes afire, and Sequoyah tying Fitzgerald's hands and legs together with

mulberry rope, ripped off his scalp of long red curls. Then he pushed him into

the flames of a burning log house.

They returned to Dragging Canoe's village the horses and cattle which had been

stolen by the whites in that settlement. These Cherokee horses and crossbred

buffalo and wild Spanish cattle were branded with a small notch-like V taken

from the tip of the right ear.

During the bloody wars of the middle and late 1780's, in which the white

settlers' stride for Cherokee lands was in full swing, and the Cherokee faction

and confederacy were fighting a die-hard stand against them and the bribed

chiefs, Sequoyah, his brother Whitepath, and a group of eight warriors ran a

flatboat line on the Tennessee River. Using the boats, they traded gold to the

Spanish in Florida and Louisiana Territory for arms and ammunition.

In Florida, Sequoyah and Whitepath were invited to attend a council of the

governor, Don Estevon Miro. The governor's officers escorted the Cherokees to

the governor's brick walled palace courtyard, where palm covered sheds were set

up, and low split log tables were loaded with the food offered by their host,

and served by cheek-branded Florida Indian vassals.

The Indians feasted on venison, turkey, melons, fruits and breads of a great

variety. Wines and liquors were offered, and some of the Cherokees drank it.

Sequoyah and Whitepath said they preferred the black drink. 2

2 Chocolate and coffee made with coconut milk. A Florida Indian drink which the

Spanish people adopted.


There were many Southern Indian leaders and warriors from other tribes attending

the council. The Spanish governor made a small but imposing speech to his Indian


I wish to welcome our red brothers to my lands and my home. Here you see we live

in peaceful surroundings. Our red brothers are not 'I without friends. The

Americans have no chief, no king. They are men that are lost and wander in the

woods like the wild ox. They are but It's nothing unto themselves. They will

soon be settling in your country. Your people will become their slaves. Consider

well my talk7 for the Spanish people are your friends. We do not set down in

your country. We do not wish it. We will assist you, and jou shall want for


Take up your guns and fight them. Give them no rest until they are subdued, and

driven beyond the waters of the mighty ocean. Our boats will come up the

Tennessee with guns and ammunition. You shall be well supplied. Unite and show

them your strength. 3

The Cherokees could look around themselves, and see just how free Florida

Indians were under their Spanish conquerors. Florida Indians, who managed to

escape extermination by the Spanish, were branded on the cheek, forehead or the

arm with the Spanish owner's initial. The French and English followed suit in

branding their Indian slaves. The only difference with the Spanish was that the

people stayed out of Cherokee lands.

The Spanish wanted the Cherokee gold trade, and the only way they could get that

gold was by offering fair exchange trade goods, supplied by their Indian trader

vassals under orders and command of Spanish officers.

Springfrog, an assistant chief in Dragging Canoe's fighting Iforces, with a

group of warriors and their families, lived at the Spanish lead mines - Mine de

Mota in what is today Missouri -where powder and lead were shipped up the

Mississippi to the Ohio River, thence down the Tennessee to the Cherokee War

Chief, Dragging Canoe and his fighting warriors.

With the supply of arms from the Spanish, the Cherokee warriors' drive to hold

back white invasion from their nation pene-trated every path, every river and

creek in Tennessee, North

3 George Guess documents, 1786. The speech of Governor Miro was written

in Spanish by Sequoyah. Translated by the author (verbatim et literatim).


Carolina and parts of Georgia, Alabama, South Carolina, Virginia and the whole

of what is now Kentucky.

Attakullakulla, the former peace-appointed chief, and his war chief, Oganasdoda

of the friendly faction, had, in 1775, given Kentucky away - the hunting lands

of the Cherokees - to Richard Henderson and Nathaniel Hart in exchange for

trading goods. But the Cherokees still fought for it.

Dragging Canoe was the recognized war chief of the Cherokee people and the split

nation, and was backed by the majority, although the appointed chiefs and

pampered pets of the Colonial Government and its agents were led to believe


In the late spring of 1786, while scouting on the Saluda River in South

Carolina, Sequoyah and Uhyalug came upon two white men in the tall canes along

the river who had butchered three head of Cherokee cattle and were skinning and

cutting up the meat. One man was killed. The other, wounded, jumped into the

river to escape, but was captured by Sequoyah, who tied his hands together with

sinew, and took him and the Cherokee horse that he had stolen back to Dragging

Canoe's village.

After much prodding with the sharpened end of a green cane jabbed into the white

man's groin, the sullen man told Sequoyah that his name was George Guess, and

that he and his dead partner were new settlers from a white settlement in South


The Beloved Woman Oh, mother of Dragging Canoe, pondered over what method to use

to dispose of their unwanted guest. Dragging Canoe, who had been wounded a few

days before with a musket ball in the leg, sat on the clay floor of his home

with his back propped against a bale of bearskins. He told Sequoyah: "My young

son, you say you need another name -other than what you have to use with the

unegvs (whites). Now, that white man there, he have name of George Guess. He

need it no longer. You take his name. That horse he stole. George is name of

white Uguwiyuhi over there across the Amegwa. 4 Guess is anybody. We know that

from that dictionary book. That white man our guess now.

4 Big Water.


It is recorded that Sequoyah took Dragging Canoe's suggestion and accepted

George Guess for his formal name - a name spelled in the Cherokee syllabary as

Tsatsi Tvsis.

There was a victory dance and feast on the night that Sequoyah acquired his new

name. Whitepath sang out his brother's new name for all in the village to hear,

waving the red stick and eagle feathers 'that symbolized power. Sequoyah carried

the painted red stick, eagle feathers dangling with the scalp of George Guess,

dancing, dancing, dancing the Victory Dance. He felt peace within his soul in

the revenge of the deaths of his mother, father, and sister. He sang out, for

all to hear, the feats that he had accomplished during the year.

Sequoyah's new name spread from village to village. Conditions worsened in the

nation because of the settlement of whites on Cherokee lands, and by the

colonist government's fraudulent land ceding treaties made with the unauthorized

appointed chiefs, living at the Indian agency's stockade village. There they

were kept drunk on traders' whiskey and were obligated to the whites for

protection from fighting clansmen. Against this despair and defeat, the daring

feats which Sequoyah seemed driven to achieve, spread his fame far and wide over

the nation, to the Ohio, and to the Mississippi Rivers.

Battle after bloody battle was fought with the squatting white settlers and the

colonist armies. Sequoyah, the warrior-scribe, recorded the work and deeds of

his fighting people and those of himself in the small black leather£overed

ledger books bought from Spanish traders.

As his count of "white hair" grew, so did his name at village dances and feasts.

The shy young girls would whisper among themselves: "There is the one that

writes. The brave warrior Tsatsi Tvsis that follows in the footsteps of our

great war chief, Dragging Canoe. He is to be watched, he will bring much good

power to our people. He is a good catch."

During the summer of 1788, when Dragging Canoe and his fighting warriors were on

the borders of the nation in what is today Kentucky, three Choctaws came to

Crawfish Place. Finding only old men and women warriors and a few black



guarding the homes, the Choctaws told Dragging Canoe's first wife that she and

her daughter, a child of six, were wanted by Dragging Canoe on White Ridge to

help in his camp. Of course, it was a ruse. The Choctaws captured Eni, and her

child Ewi.

Months later, Dragging Canoe learned that his wife and child had been sold to

the whites in Virginia. Through messengers, the whites began to negotiate for

the exchange of prisoners. By the end of 1789, Dragging Canoe had exchanged

three black and two white prisoners for his wife Eni.

But the whites demanded all white prisoners in the Cherokee Nation in exchange

for his daughter Ewi. Therefore, the parley dragged on. Dragging Canoe had no

assurance whatsoever that his daughter was safe, other than the white Indian

agent's written message, sent through bribed friendly Cherokees.

Knowing that the whites had no more regard for the life of an Indian child than

that of a wild goat, Dragging Canoe waited until he and his scouts could go into

the white settlement, where Ewi was being held.

It was a three-day journey by foot from Dragging Canoe's village on Crawfish

Creek in Tennessee, to the white settlement of Hillsville in the mountains of

Virginia, where Ewi was being kept in the home of a white man by the name of

Hill. Dragging Canoe, with assistant chief Crane, Sequoyah, and four scouts,

left his village on the night of June 16, 1790. Walking through the mountain

paths into Virginia, they arrived on the third day at Hill's settlement. It was

evening, and the settlers were out milking their cows, and cutting wood for

their fires.

Knowing that their own lives were in constant danger on lands the whites - lands

which once belonged to the Cherokee Tribe, they took no chances coming in

contact with them. Crawling on their bellies through thickets and tall grass

until within viewing distance of the white man Hill's home (Hill's house had

been fully described to Dragging Canoe by an Indian informer, they lay and

watched for signs that his small daughter was still there. M eanwhile, Sequoyah

and Black Fox crawled within a few yards of the spring which served the

settlement. Watching from


their places of concealment, they saw a few white children running and playing

with dogs, rolling wooden hoops, and carrying wood into the houses. Men and

women were milking cows, and feeding chickens, geese and horses in the log


Nowhere was there any evidence of the Cherokee child Ewi. Just at dusky dark, a

woman came to the spring for water, and to place wooden 'pails of milk in the

cold spring. Silently, Sequoyah came behind her as she bent down into the water.

Covering her mouth with one hand, while he held her arms behind her with the

other, he took her to Dragging Canoe so that he might question her about his


Shaking like a rabbit caught between the paws of a cat, the white woman told

Dragging Canoe that there was no Indian child in the settlement; that she was

there many weeks ago, but became sickly, and Mr. Hill gave her to a traveling

preacher who came to preach in their settlement once a month. The preacher's

name was John Craig, who lived in the town of Petersville, across the mountains,

about two days' walk. She did not know exactly where Mr. Craig lived in the


Dragging Canoe knew that it would be a fruitless search to continue on to

another white settlement in Virginia. So he and his warriors returned to their

village with the white woman pris-oner. The woman, Daisy Spinks, was given to an

aged Cherokee family who had lost their sons and two daughters in the wars with

the whites. She was forced to work in the fields, as well as around the house,

chopping wood, carrying water, and cutting up the meat brought to all aged

Indians unable to work.

White people taken prisoners by the Cherokees were treated well in most cases,

and made to work in the fields and help in the Indian homes. Prisoners were

taken for the same purpose as that with which the whites took Indians - they

were a valuable means of exchange and slave labor. The women were not raped like

the Indian slaves of white owners. Neither were the white females and males

beaten, unless they tried to escape, refused to work, or played trickery with

Cherokee owners.




ALTHOUGH wars between the Anglos and Cherokees were fought in their nation and

on its borders, Cherokee tribal traditions and customs continued on throughout

their country.

Sequoyah was twenty-three, tall, lean and girl-shy when he found Tsini, the

eldest daughter of Tsatsi Ughvi, while attending one of the Friendship Dances in

the mountain village of her father.

His love affair was one-sided - at first, Tsini seemed not to be interested in

him, nor even to notice him. So he asked Whitepath, a Didahnvwisgi 1, for a

magic charm which he could use to think, say, and do to attract her to him - to

see that he was a handsome and strong man, and would be a good provider.

One of the magic texts that Sequoyah perhaps used goes like this:

Now! Listen! Now, Red Raven.

I am dressed as well as the Redtail Hawk.

I am as handsome as the Redbird.

I am as beautiful as the Hummingbird.

As the Redtail Hawk is masculine, I am masculine.

1 A didahnvwisgi, "curer of them," he or she, is both physician and priest. A

shaman. There was the dasgidigi, commonly referred to as the Medicine Man who

conducted ceremonies for the prevention of, as well as the treatment of,

disease. The didahnesegi ("putter-in and drawer out of them, he") was a

sorcerer, a witch, who used his knowledge for evil purposes, and therefore never

positively identifiable.


As the Red bird can do much, I can do as much.

As the Blue Dove can say much, I can say as

much: Gule! Gule! Gule! 2

The magic charm seemed to have cast its love-spell upon Tsini. Sequoyah asked

his foster mother Eni and the Beloved Woman Oh to take the sacred white deerskin

from the deer he had killed the previous winter to Tsini, and to tell her that

he wished her Ito "follow behind him."

When the women returned from Tsatsi Ughvi's village on the Iseventh day, they

brought Sequoyah the sacred ear of colored corn and a white and red horsehair

belt, woven with tiny cut white clamshells Tsini had made for him to tie around

his hunting shirt for all to see that "he was taken."

So it was settled. Tsini became Sequoyah's wife in December, 1789.

Unlike most Cherokee men when they marry in the eighteenth and nineteenth

centuries, it was customary for the young couple to live in the same village

with the wife's clanspeople -not in the same house, but near by in a home of

their own. Most often, their home was built by a group of "free labor" workers

from the wife's clanspeople and furnished with items made by the group, and

other clansmen.

Usually women relatives of the bride gave freely of their time and talents.

Handmade household items such as quilts, blankets, clay pots, bowls, painted

skins, cane and bark mats, and baskets made from the honeysuckle vine, the oak,

pine and mulberry trees were some of the useful gifts bestowed on the new wife.

Sequoyah's duties as scribe and warrior in Dragging Canoe's fighting forces

required him to be closer to his "works." So a group of his clansmen composed a

free labor force, and built for him and Tsini, a tw~room log house on Crow Creek

near what Iis today Stevenson, Alabama, where his brother Whitepath lived with

his wife, whom he had married two years previously. Also

2 "Attraction" idigawesdi may be said or sung, used in "going to the water"

ritual where the entire Cherokee nation is unified and spiritually reassured in

face of some force which threatens its life, and also utilized in "remaking"



living in this Cherokee settlement, which became known to the whites as "Crow

Town," was Young Warrior and his wife and six children.

Sequoyah's father-in-law Tsatsi Ughvi was a weAthy Cherokee village chief.

Back between two lofty mountains in North Carolina, where his forefathers had

discovered gold more than six hundred years before, he and others of his clan,

and his wife's clan had buflt their settlement along White Fires River. It was a

valley that ran for miles before it was stopped short by another towering

mountain. From his mountain valley stronghold, Tsatsi Ughvi fought back white

invasion, and the Anglos' lust for his gold and rich farm lands, by posting

armed guards along the three entrances to the valley and with crossbred wolf-

dogs - a unique and vicious animal.

When Tsatsi Ughvi's daughter married Sequoyah, he and his wife spared no expense

in setting them up in housekeeping. Supplying the young couple with fine horses,

cattle and hogs which Tsatsi Ughvi bought from the Spanish in Florida and the

Louisiana Territory with gold that he and his clansmen mined in his valley. His

viflage was just one of the many that supplied Dragging Canoe's fighting forces

with farm products, and gold for guns and ammunition.

During the last quarter of the eighteenth century, when the Cherokees were being

pushed on all sides by the Anglos, and the new United States' armies were

striking devastation to Cherokee viflages for the final crushing blow to bring

them to their knees, about the only crops that co&d be grown successfully was

the main staple, and their staff of life - corn.

Corn had to be grown by the older men, women and young boys and girls, some

white and black slave prisoners. These prisoners were distributed among the

various villages where the need was greatest for field-work.

The Cherokees in Tsatsi Ughvi's village supplied many of the other vfllages

throughout the nation with their three hundred acres of corn. The corn was

plowed with a type of oxen similar to those of the white man, and which had been

used for centuries.


The wooden plow was copied after that of the Indians who lived to the southwest

beyond the Big Waters.

As soon as the corn was mature and dry, it was shelled and stored underground in

caves to prevent confiscation or destruction by the white armies, and the

settlers who stole and plundered Cherokee villages like hungry wild dogs

smelling out another's food supply. An even greater sport and dirty game was to

steal the Indians' horses, cattle, hogs and sheep. If there were too many of

these animals to drive across the nation's boundary lines to the stockade forts,

and the white settlements, Cherokee horses, cattle, sheep, hogs and tame fowl

were killed and left to rot anywhere that herds were found and unguarded.

Seven hundred Cherokee warriors and their families were settled on the Ohio

(Uwagi) River near what is today the Kentucky and West Virginia line, fighting

with their brothers and allies, the Shawnees.

Sequoyah, with his wife Tsini, and a group of scouts and warriors carried

messages and supplies of arms, ammunition, and shelled corn up the Tennessee

River to where the Ohio drains into the Amaegwa (Mississippi). And when squatter

white settlements sprang up along the Tennessee River on Cherokee lands, and

evil and foul-talking whites prevented Indians from using the river by firing

upon them, the Cherokee fighting forces and their allies burned their

settlements, captured and killed the squatters.

These strange wild people - prisoner debtors, murderers, and runaway renegades

from the poor-houses of Europe, spewed out over Indian lands, killing and being

killed. It seemed not to matter to them, for they were determined to become the

master of Indian America like the kings and lords they had left behind. They saw

the chance to take, to grab and to steal possessions of the Indians which they

had never owned in the country from which they came. In this white sickness, the

Great Spirit chose the American Indian Tribes to be the goat.

So the tiresome Cherokee-white wars continued by that faction of Cherokee

confederacy headed by the war chief, Dragging


Canoe, and the forty-one of the sixty-two villages throughout the whole nation

that followed his leadership and guidance.

Early one morning in the fall of 1790, Tsinj came walking slowly from the Osi,

carrying her son wrapped in white goatskin. The young parents called him Tvsisdi

(Young Guess). On the fourth day of the child's life, the young parents took

their baby to the running stream of Crow Creek for baptism. The priest and

physician faced the rising Sun and held the child over the water, while saying a

prayer for his good life in his future; offering him seven times to the water

without yet touching it. Then Tsini dipped her fingers into the water and gently

placed it at her son's head and body. Others of the village immersed themselves

seven times in the running waters, while the priest said prayers for each one.

In the following year of 1791, Sequoyah took another wife -a Shawnee whom he

found wandering and dazed from the bru-tal rape and beatings at the hands of

three white men. She was called Tsisdunigisdi (Wild Rose).

Another log room was built on to the house which he, Tsini and their baby

occupied on Crow Creek across the Tennessee River in Alabama.

When the newly elected Great White Father, George Washington, ordered William

Blount, the governor over the territory of the United States south of the River

Ohio, and superinten-dent of Indian Affairs for the southern district, to

assemble the Cherokee chiefs and headmen together at White's Port on the Holston

River to make another peace treaty with the friendly appointed chiefs, Dragging

Canoe decided for once that he and his assistant chiefs and warriors would

attend the "peace meeting." They wanted to see for themselves if the whites

really wanted to stop the war on the Indians, or if the assemblage was for the

purpose of gaining another foothold on Cherokee lands. 8 Also, to see what the

results of attending the whites' meeting would have on the bribed and guarded

chiefs of the twentynine villages in the nation.

3 See Cherokee Nation Treaties Between the United States of America and the

Cherokee Nation from 1785, pp.89-94.


Dragging Canoe's assistants and warriors dressed in their finest clothes to meet

the white government agent of the new smafi nation on the first day of July,


Their fringed hunting shirts and drawstring pants were a mulitude of colors -

red, white, brown, yellow and turquoise painted buckskin, and homespun cotton

and wild flax cloth. A beaded belt made of dyed horsehair and buckskin was tied

on the left around their hunting shirts. Soft moccasins were painted and beaded,

and an assortment of Ahhunwogi (turbans) completed their dress. Over Dragging

Canoe's shoulders was draped his prized war mantle, worked with thousands of red

bird feathers, and upon his head, he wore his red headdress of bird feathers.

The Cherokee horses were decked out in handwoven red, white and brown striped

blankets, and red and white eagle feathers were tied upon their horsehair

bridles. The heads and nimps of the horses were painted in Cherokee symbols,

denoting their power. The saddles were made by the Cherokees, and some were

obtained from Spanish traders.

Sequoyah and three selected scouts led the procession through the mountain

paths, followed by the great war chief, Dragging Canoe, his assistants and

warriors. They traveled to the fort of Mr. White, where the French Broad River

empties into the Holston. (White's Fort is known today as Knoxville.)

Dragging Canoe and his people camped several miles away from the fort on the

night of July 1. About a mile away, Standing Turkey (Gvnagadoga), who had taken

the leadership of Hanging Maw (killed by the whites), his assistant Boot, and

their paid followers of two hundred and eighty-nine men and women, waited in

camp. They had gathered there two days previously.

The Cherokees were awakened at daylight by the ringing of the fort bell. While

Dragging Canoe and his assistants ate from their buckskin bag of ghvhwisidi,4

Sequoyah and six other scouts skirted the general area of the fort.

4 Parched corn pounded into meal. often mixed with crushed hickory nuts, which

Cherokees prepared for a journey.


Finding that the area was not patrolled by the whites, and guards were only

around the fort, Dragging Canoe and his people - who numbered over nine hundred

- rode on in and stopped on the open grounds along the two rivers below the

fort. He sent Whitepath, Bloody Fellow, Doublehead and Sequoyah to the guard at

the fort gate to inform the governor that he and his people - the recognized

chief of the Cherokee Nation, had come to hear his talk." And that they would

wait down by the river in the open grounds.

Not long after Dragging Canoe and his people arrived at the fort, Standing

Turkey, Boot, Rising Fawn (George Lowery), and their followers, rode up to the

fort, dismounted, and talked to the guards. They were decked out in the finery

of the white man, with scarlet velvet knee pants, ruffled white and lace shirts,

knee stockings, black brass buckled slippers and three-sided black hats with

white feathers on two

The friendlies remained outside in front of the fort gate. And in daring

boldness, Standing Turkey paraded himself back and forth before the gate

entrance, like a strutting turkey gobbler before his small flock of hens.

Dragging Canoe, knowing that this parade performance was done on his behalf,

angrily called out to Standing Turkey: "Be still. You will get to see your Great

White Brother. He not leave you.

Dragging Canoe's group retired to the shade of the sycamore trees, from the hot

July sun. There they waited, resting, and telling jokes about the whites.

Sequoyah and another scout by the name of Two Killer, curi-ous about the fort

and the people inside, walked past three out-side guards and peeped between the

stockade poles.

Inside all was a bustle. Soldiers were setting up the government's "presents" -

wagon loads of all kinds of goods, from bolts of bright colored cloth to huge

brass pots, fancy knives, horse bridles, saddles, mirrors, black hats, and the

like. These were being unloaded from the wagons, and displayed in piles on the

fort grounds so that the Cherokees could better examine the fine things the

Great White Father had sent to his "red" children to


be good, and not fight anymore with his white ones. Missing from the piles of

goods were guns and ammunition. These had been given to the friendlies in

previous years, to use against their own brothers.

Sequoyah saw white women working over large pots of food to feast the Great

White Fathers' red children.

About noon, the mixed-blood interpreters, John Thompson and James Carey, came

out of the fort with guards. They informed both groups of Cherokees, the

friendlies and the hostiles, that Governor Blount was ready for them to come

inside. They were told that no type of weapon would be allowed.

Chiefs from Dragging Canoe's group had previously placed handmade hunting knives

inside their shirts. Dragging Canoe's assistants were Bloody Fellow, Doublehead,

Young Warrior, Daksi, Whitepath and Sequoyah. They followed the two interpreters

and five guards inside.

Seated in the shade of a large oak was the white-haired Governor Blount. He had

the treaty papers spread out in front of him, on a table made of split logs.

Beside him were his aides. Some were standing; some sat. Split log tables, piled

high with food, were placed all around inside the fort grounds.

The mixed-blood, James Carey, introduced Governor Blount to the Cherokee chiefs.

The governor arose, bowed, and told the Cherokees: "Welcome my red brothers! My

Great Father ex-tends his hand in friendship to all his red children. I speak

for him. My Great Father wishes peace with his red children. His words are in

this paper that I hold in my hands. He wishes his red children to bury the Red

Hatchet forever, and the path be-tween his white children and his red children's

nation to be swept clean of all past wrongs. So that both his white and red

children may sleep in their homes undisturbed, and the hair on their heads shall

become white as the snow with the age of passingyears. . . 5"

5 The speech in part, given by Governor William Blount to the Cherokees is

translated by the author from the Cherokee syllabary writings of George Guess,

July 2, 1791.


The interpreters, John Thompson and James Carey, told the Cherokees to go

forward, bow, and shake hands in friendship with Governor Blount, the Great

White Father's assistant.

Most of the Cherokees did as they were told. They bowed from the waist to the

governor, and shook hands with him. Dragging Canoe, Bloody Fellow, Whitepath and

Sequoyah refused. They saw no reason to kowtow and shake hands in friendship

with a white man until the treaty papers with the Great White Father's words

upon it were read to them. To them, this was being pretending fools.

The purpose of Dragging Canoe and his assistant chiefs in coming to the meeting

was to hear, with their own ears, the treaty conditions set up by the new Great

White Father. And another thing which prompted Dragging Canoe, Whitepath, and

Sequoyah's attendance there on that hot July day in 1791, was the rumor that the

Great White Father's treaty with the Cherokees would stipulate the release of

thousands of Cherokee slave prisoners, held by the whites all over the eastern


So it was in Article III of the Treaty of Holston that held out some faint hope

to Dragging Canoe that he might obtain the release of his small daughter. And to

Sequoyah and Whitepath it meant that their two sisters, slave prisoners of the

whites for many years, might be restored to them. Article III in the Treaty of

Holston reads:

The Cherokee Nation shall deliver to the governor of the Territory of the United

States 6f America, south of the River Ohio, on or before the first day of April

next at this place, all persons who are now prisoners, captured by them from any

part of the United States: And the United States shall on or before the same

day, and at the same place, restore to the Cherokees, all the prisoners now in

captivity, which the citizens of the United States have captured from them.

That day, after feasting the Cherokees, and supplying gourds of whiskey

processed at Mr. White's whiskey still, peace pipes were smoked. Most of the

whites and Cherokees were too drunk and sick to think about the peace treaty


Dragging Canoe, Whitepath and Sequoyah carried Bloody Fellow, Doublehead, Young

Warrior and Daksi out of the fort,


and dumped them into the river so that they might regain their senses and become

clean of spirit and mind again.

Next day, July 3, 1791, in the afternoon, after feasting the Cherokees again,

the treaty papers were read by the governor, and interpreted by mixed-bloods,

John Thompson and James Carey, to the two groups of the Cherokee faction.

Governor Blount informed his interpreters that the cession of Cherokee lands in

Tennessee and North Carolina should not be read to the red sons-of-bitches in

Article IV. "Read only that part of the Article IV where it says that certain

valuable goods and money is to be given to the bloody bastards," he told the

interpreters. Article IV reads as follows:

The boundary between the citizens of the United States and the Cherokee Nation,

is and shall he as follows: Beginning at the top of the Curahee mountain, where

the Creek line passes it - thence a direct line to Tugelo river-thence North

East to the Occunna moun-tains, and over the same along the South Carolina

Indian boundary to the North Carolina boundary - thence North to a point from

which a line is to be extended to the river Clinch, that shall pass the Holston

at the ridge which divides the waters running into Little river, from those

running into the Tennessee - Thence up the river Clinch to Campbell's line, and

along the same to the top of Cumber-land Mountain - thence a direct line to the

Cumberland River to a point from which a South-west line will strike the mouth

of Duck river.

And in order to preclude forever all disputes relative to the said boundary, the

same shall be ascertained, and marked plainly by three persons appointed on the

part of the United States, and three Cher~ kees on the part of their Nation.

And in order to extinguish forever all claims of the Cherokee Nation, or any

part thereof to any of the land lying to the right of the above described,

beginning as aforesaid at the Currahee mountain, it is hereby agreed, that in

addition to the consideration heretofore made for the said land, the United

States will cause certain valuable goods to be immediately delivered to the

undersigned Chiefs and Warriors, for the use of their Nation, and the said

United States will also cause the sum of one thousand dollars to be paid

annually to the said Cher~ kee Nation - And the undersigned Chiefs and Warriors,

do hereby


for themselves and the whole Cherokee Nation, their heirs and descendants, for

the considerations above mentioned, Release, Quit Claim, Relinquish and Cede,

all the land to the right 0£ the line de-scribed and beginning as aforesaid.

Article 14 in the Treaty of Hoiston was not read to the Cherokees. None of the

Indians were permitted to read the treaty papers before the signing - the

governor thought Dragging Canoe savage to ask for such a request.

The two factions of Cherokees retired to an area of the fort under trees to

discuss and argue the points of the Great White Father's peace treaty. Standing

Turkey said it was good to stop the bloody wars with the whites; that .the Great

White One loved his Indian children same as his white ones. "Did they not see

the wagonloads of good presents he send to them? And money was coming too."

"Now, you not see the white's money?" Dragging Canoe told him. "How you know

money come? Who wants money? You chief of white man. I, Tsiyogunsi, war chief of

our people. They love me, I not give my hands to whites for presents."

In the middle of these hot arguments of the chiefs, the two interpreters voiced

their opinion that should the chiefs fail to agree and not sign the "peace

treaty" of the Great White Father, Ithat his armies would come to their nation

and crush it with their big iron cannon - that many Cherokees, young and old

would die.

After two days and nights of heated discussions between the two factions of the

nation, they finally agreed to sign the "peace treaty papers.

Dragging Canoe and his six assistants signed the Treaty of Holston, which they

understood to be merely a "peace treaty" between the United States and

themselves. Each one gave his Icorrect name, and touched the tip of Governor

Blount's quill.

This was the first and last time that Dragging Canoe, Sequoyah, and Whitepath

signed their names to a United States treaty.

All the Cherokee signers received the Great White rather's Peace Medal with his

picture on one side, and hands clasped in


friendship on the reverse, and tiny clay pipes with the typical long cane stem

made by the white man.

The Great White Father's presents were distributed to the various Cherokee

chiefs and warriors by Governor Blount's sol-diers at the fort. Many of the

wagons were reloaded and driven outside the fort gate, where the majority of the

Cherokees waited to receive their "bribe" of the white government. Huge brass

and iron pots, given to Cherokee chiefs, could not be carted back to their

country on horseback. These were left at the fort for the whites to use.



HARDLY HAD THE ink dried on the Great White rather's treaty at Hoiston with the

Cherokees, when floods of white rogues crossed the French Broad and Hiwasse

Rivers, and began building their homes on Cherokee lands. They appropriated and

cultivated Cherokee cleared farm lands, and drove Indians out of their vfllages

by firing on the people and their stock. Like black droves of mosquitoes that

sucked the blood from any and all animals, the wild whites grabbed Indian

possessions, fighting among themselves over choice lands, orchards and


In early August 1791, Sequoyah, Uhyalug, and Dagvni, under the leadership of

Young Warrior, were scouting the area near the Hiwasse River when they found

men, women and boys picking apples in a large Cherokee apple orchard. The Indian

owners had been run out of their village to the mountain caves. Many whites were

killed in the orchard, and some of the white children ran to escape in the deep


The South Carolina Gazette on September 9~ 1791, carried the bold headlines of

the "Cherokee Massacre" on the whites, and the whites' retaliation:

... That on the i7th ultimo settlers living near the Cherokee Nation feemed to

be thrown into a fresh Consternation by the loss of four Men at Nottely, a

Woman, and four children at Unicoye, and three men at Hywaffee, all of which

were killed while picking apples, and scalped. At this place (Hywaffee) is a

large town having upwards of ninety houses, and large quantities of corn,

potatoes, pease,


beans and hogs. Captain Handley ordered our men to fpread out in companies, and

destroy, cut down, and burn all belonging to our heathen enemies. This being no

small undertaking. They being so plentifully supplied. Indeed, we find here

curious buildings and great apple orchards, and white-man like improvements,

these we destroy of our enemies.

Nowhere in the historical period of Anglo invasion or Indian America was the

idea of the s~called "hunter-state" myth of Indian tribes imbedded in the mind

of the white public as it was in the office of the president of the United

States. This "hunter" lie was for one purpose - to move Indians off their

valuable lands, and cleared fields east of the Mississippi to the unpopulated

lands west of the Mississippi River, and to populate the lands with white

settlers from the poorhouses and debtors' prisons of Europe.

Nowhere in American history books is there mention of southern Indian

agriculture - done with oxen and wooden plows -skills copied by the Anglo

settlers from the southern Indians. In early November 1791, Dragging Canoe sent

a delegation of seven assistant chiefs to Philadelphia to protest to President

Washington the serious situation of the white settlers moving on to those

Cherokee lands, not then ceded in the Holston treaty.

Headed by Bloody Fellow and Whitepath, Dragging Canoe took advantage of Article

XII of the Treaty of Hopewell that was unauthorized and signed by a few friendly

appointed chiefs which stated:

That the Indians may have full confidence in the justice of the United States,

respecting their interests, they shall have the right to send a deputy of their

choice, whenever they think fit, to Congress.

Sequoyah, sick with the "black yellow," was unable to make the trip to

Philadelphia, and was replaced by Two Killer.

After an eighteen day horseback journey from their village in Tennessee, the

seven Cherokees reached the city of Philadelphia, and inquired at the Congress

House to see the Great

1 A condition in Cherokee semejology which might roughly equate a circulatory



White Father. Secretary of War, Henry Knox, sent the Cherokees, with two aides

of his, to a hotel to be properly "cloathed" and "mannered" before meeting their

Great White Father, George Washington.

The traditional Indian garb of white buckskin, red, white and brown striped

homespun cotton and flax shirts, and buckskin knee boots were ndt the social

taste for President Washington. White officials insisted that the seven

Cherokees be fitted by a staff of tailors. The clothes were free, given to them

by their Great White Father, so they were told. It took more than a week to make

the clothes for all.

In the meantime, the Cherokees were shown how to relieve themselves in the city.

Thomas Whitehead showed them a white pot with a lid on top, called a chamber

pot. He proceeded to teach the Indians how to use it. Next they were shown the

outside privy behind the hotel which the white people used. In the hotel dining

room, Whitehead and his aide, James Pickle, pro-ceeded to teach the Cherokees

the white man's table etiquette, telling them to follqw their procedure. And

during the waiting period, the Cherokees were shown the sights of Philadelphia,

which included a trip in a fine carriage to the Big Waters (ocean) where the

Great White Father's fleet of ships and cannon were maintained.

Finally, the Cherokees were decked out in white ruffled shirts, black knee

pants, white knee-stockings, garters, black buckle slippers, scarlet vests, and

long black frock coats. On their heads, they wore three cornered black hats.

Since Bloody Fellow was the leader of the group, white officials figured that he

should have a distinctive white man's garb to impress the others. So Secretary

of War Knox informed his aide, Leonard Shaw, to have the tailors make a

brigadier general's uniform for Bloody Fellow to wear to his meeting with

President Washington.

After the formalities of bowing from the waist and handshaking were dispensed

with, President Washington admired the uniform that Bloody Fellow wore so much

that he thought he would look more outstanding with a medal of the president's

likeness around his neck. President Washington took from a


small black covered box, a medal with a picture of himself on one side, and

crossed hands clasped in "friendship" on the reverse side. He placed it around

Bloody Fellow's neck on a gold chain. In return for the Great White Father's

gift of obligation, Bloody Fellow presented the president with his handmade

carved gold-handled knife, and a string of blue-white cut shell beads. The other

six men received long stem clay pipes from their Great White Father.

When the formality of gift exchanging was over, wine and liquor were served by a

black servant to the Indians, the president, and his aides, before any Indian

business was conducted.

The Great White Father and his aides knew just how to deal with the Indians.

When Bloody Fellow did get to state the purpose of the journey to Philadelphia,

he read from his black book the letter written by Dragging Canoe, in the

syllabary, to President Washington: Great White King:

I send my assistant chief to read you my words. His name Tsitagigahi. Now, I say

this to you White King: That paper I mark for your assistant chief, the one

called William Blount that lives at the place called White's Fort, I sold not my

peoples lands. That place where your white children dwell, the place where they

lodge, the place they fortify which they think to establish themselves master of

that place called by themselves Buchanan and Greens Place is mine. I am sprung

from this land as does the grass. I wish not for war with your white children,

but should they not leave my lands, should you, their king, not force them to

leave, I and my warriors will come and kill all we find now living on my lands.

I, Tsiyogugvnsini just spoke.

After President Washington heard the words of Dragging Canoe, he hum-hawed

around Bloody Fellow, and browbeat the near drunk Indian into signing another

treaty, which increased the annuity payments to the Cherokee Nation from $1,000

to $1,500 annually for being good red children. But the new treaty did not

relinquish the United States cession of Cherokee lands taken from them without

their knowledge in the Treaty of Hoiston. Whitepath warned Bloody Fellow that he

had no authority to sign treaties with the Great White Father without the vote

of the majority of the people.


President Washington was bold enough to ask the Cherokee leaders to help fight

their northern and southern neighbors, which they flady refused to agree to do.

The great White Father gave Bloody Fellow an American Flag to present to

Dragging Canoe when he returned home.

The Cherokees returned to their hotel with the white officials, who kept watch

over the Indians like a hawk watches young juicy rabbits it plans to catch. The

Indians took off the white man's clothes and put on their own. Whitekiller

jokingly told Bloody Fellow and the others that: "It would be a good joke to

play on Chief Tsiyogugvnsini to put the White King's flag alongside of that red

one of our chief that he has flying on pine tree-top in his village. Let him

find it there in daytime, see what he will do."

So when the Cherokees arrived back in their nation after a sixteen-day horseback

trip from the east, the seven Indians reported to Dragging Canoe at his village

before going on to their homes.

Whitepath, Bloody Fellow and Doublehead did not present the American Flag to

Dragging Canoe on their arrival home. Instead, they waited until after midnight;

climbing up the tall branchless pine tree. At the top the blood-red Cherokee

Nation Flag, symbolizing power and victory, was flying in the breeze over the

Cherokee Nation. Whitekiller tied the American Flag a little below the one of

the Cherokee Nation.

When morning came, Dragging Canoe found the American flag. Grabbing his gun, he

shot it full of holes. Sequoyah wrote that: "It sounded like soldiers shooting

at our village." The joke that Whitekiller thought up backfired. Dragging Canoe

did not think the Great White Father's flag flying in the Cherokee Nation was

funny, and the seven assistants were reprimanded.

When Dragging Canoe asked Bloody Fellow and Whitepath for the "Day Book7" a

?ecord written in the Cherokee syllabary of all that was said and done by them

and the white officials in Philadelphia, and a description of the white country

in which they traveled, neither could find it among their personal effects. Some

months later, Bloody Fellow, Whitepath, Doublehead and


Sequoyah, who had recovered from his illness, were in a Creek village in Georgia

rounding up some white prisoners to exchange for Cherokees, when they saw in

that village a white man with their "Day Book" of writings, and a Cherokee

friendly traitor reading it to him.

The white man, Leonard Shaw, was one of the white officials who generously to4k

the Cherokees "sight-seeing" in the city of Philadelphia in a splendid carriage

with a black driver and footman, and dined with them at the hotel many times.

The Cherokees were as angry as stirred-up yellow jackets. Sequoyah snatched the

book from the hands of the friendly, and sealed his mouth with one knife stab in

the heart. After searching Shaw, Bloody Fellow told him: "You leave Indian

lands. Now!" Shaw took his advice, and asked for a guard of Creeks to escort him

through the Cherokee Nation to White's Fort.

Sequoyah took from Shaw's personal papers a letter written by the Secretary of

War, Henry Knox, which was Shaw's spying instructions while in the Cherokee and

Creek nations.

The Cherokees kept Shaw's letter from the Secretary of War Knox, and his

instructions to Shaw reads in part (verbatim et lit-eratim):

... You will endeavor to learn their language; this is essential to your

communications. You will collect materials for a history of all the southern

tribes, and all things thereunto belonging. You will en-deavor to ascertain

their respective limits, make a vocabulary of their respective languages, teach

them agriculture and such useful arts as you may know how or can acquire. You

will correspond regularly with Governor Blount, who is superintendent for Indian

affairs, and inform him of all occurrences. You will also cultivate a

correspondence with Brigadier General McGillivray (the Creek chief), and you

will also keep a journal of your proceedings and transmit them to the War

Office. You are to exhibit to Governor Blount the Cherokee book, and all the

Writings therein....

It is doubtful whether the Cherokee dated book of symbol writings and Leonard

Shaw's letter from Secretary of War Knox (containing the government's knowledge

of Cherokee writings) would have affected Sequoyah's trial twenty-five years



(October 1816) before a general council of mixed-blood and friendly fanatics,

even if available as "proof" that the Cherokee tribe had been using their own

native method of writing and reading for hundreds of years.

In March 1792, Dragging Canoe, with his assistant chiefs and forty warriors,

took a group of forty-four white and Mack prisoners to White's Fort, less than a

day's journey by dugout canoes up the Tennessee River to the Hols ton and French

Broad Rivers.

Governor Blount sent a letter by Utsvtiselu (Corn Tassel) to Dragging Canoe,

advising him that his Great White Father was ready to exchange Cherokee

prisoners for his white children being held by the Cherokees.

Dragging Canoe did not take all the white prisoners in the nation on this, the

first exchange with the whites. He wished to make certain that the whites meant

what they said, and that they lived up to the agreement in Article III in the

Treaty of Holston. Sequoyah and Whitepath, as well as Dragging Canoe, had a

vital interest in the exchange of prisoners. Perhaps many Cherokees would be

reunited with the tribe - a lost wife, daughter, sister, grandmother, son or


The Cherokees arrived at White's Fort on a rainy day in late March.

Dragging Canoe sent Sequoyah, Bloody Fellow, Young Warrior and Doublehead to the

Fort to inform the white officials that they had arrived with their white

prisoners. In a little while, the Cherokees returned with three soldiers, and

the interpreter James Carey, who told Dragging Canoe that the governor would see

him at the Fort, and that he was to release his white and black prisoners to the


The white-haired Governor Blount said to Dragging Canoe: "Your people who are

prisoners of the citizens of the United States will arrive here on the morrow.

You and your warriors may camp down there in the open grounds by the river until

they arrive.

Hopefully, Dragging Canoe and assistants, Sequoyah and Bloody Fellow, returned

to their canoes, and the white prisoners were taken inside the fort.


Dragging Canoe's wisdom and the words of Whitepath, the conjurer, told him not

to accept Governor Blount's invitation to camp on the fort grounds. Instead, he,

with his assistants and warriors, returned miles down the river, camping in a

swamp that March night.

Like so many promises in the past with the whites whose words were never kept,

no Cherokee prisoners ever arrived on the "morrow." Nor did they arrive in the

following years.

There did arrive the next morning, just at daybreak at the swamp where the

Cherokees were camped, a detachment of soldiers, who fired into the swamp on the

Cherokees, wounding eleven, among whom was Young Warrior, who later died.

Sequoyah received a musket ball in the shoulder.

The Cherokees escaped through the swamp, taking their wounded men back across

the mountains, leaving their canoes behind. Sequoyah and Whitepath realized that

their sisters and relatives were entirely lost to them, and Dragging Canoe knew

that he would never find his daughter.

It was treachery such as this that fanned the red fire flames of war hatred for

the whites in the hearts of the Cherokees.

In late May 1792, Tsisdunigisdi, Sequoyah's second wife, gave birth to twin

boys. He was now the proud father of three boys. The twins were named Tsuhli

(Fox) and Doi (Beaver).

As much as he wished to remain with his family and clan relatives, conditions in

the nation prevented him and other warriors and scribes from doing so. They

would be at home one day, and weeks away in other parts of the nation's borders,

fighting to move off the white settlers from their lands. As his shoulder wound

healed, Sequoyah was often on the flatboat to Florida or across the Mississippi

River, boating supplies of arms and ammunition from the Spanish in exchange for

Cherokee gold mined from his father-in-law's gold mine in the North Carolina

mountains. Many times one of his wives went along with him, while the other

stayed at the village, caring for the children.




As SUMMER CAME ON, war conditions worsened with the Anglo settlers who flooded

the nation and its borders.

Since the Great White Father and his agents refused to move settlers from

Cherokee lands, Dragging Canoe with assistant chiefs, and four hundred warriors,

marched in four groups one night in November 1792 to the white man's stockade,

Buchanan, near what is now Nashville. They attacked the stockade with a constant

firing of guns, bows and arrows. Lighted pine knot torches were thrown on the

roofs of the houses.

Daring and bold, Dragging Canoe got in the way of the white's gun fire, and was

shot. Sequoyah and Doublehead saw their great leader fall, and ran to his side

to pull him back out of the range of the stockade gunfire. Dragging Canoe was

shot in the head, and died instantly. Now he could no longer direct their war

battles with the whites.

The assistant chiefs and warriors, pained that their great chief was dead,

called off the attack. They returned the body of Dragging Canoe to his village.

For seyen days and nights none of Dragging Canoe's warriors fought the whites,

in respectful observance of their chief's death and burial. Messages were sent

to villages throughout the nation advising the village chiefs that their war

leader was dead.

Seven priests, who represented his respective clan, came to the village, washed

Dragging Canoe's body in sacred herb medicine, and wrapped him in white

handwoven cotton cloth. His war mantle, worked with thousands of red bird

feathers, was placed


on his body. His enormous red headdress of woven bird feathers was placed on his


The coffin, which had been hollowed out from the trunk of a cedar tree, was

draped on the bottom, and on each side, with milk-white and blood-red handwoven

cotton cloth.

A group of workers from his clans, dug his grave, and lined it on each side and

the bottom with large flat stones. Dragging Canoe was placed inside the coffin.

On his breast was placed a small bowl of salt, around his neck, four large

strands of gold cut beads, and by his side his gun and gold-handled hunting

knife. Then the Death Dance and feast was performed.

All the people came and took his right and left hands before the hand-split

boards were laced over the coffin. Seven chosen warriors, each from his

respective clan, carried his body to the side of the mountain for burial. One of

the seven was Sequoyah. The people followed, and put a stone on the grave of

their great war chief.

Both of Dragging Canoe's widows rent their clothing, casting them away, and cut

off their hair just below the ears. The shorn hair was collected in a basket, to

be scattered later on the grave of their husband.

According to custom, neither of the widows could remarry until her hair had

grown long enough to cover her shoulders.

After Dragging Canoe's burial on the seventh night, Bloody Fellow, now the

chosen war chief of the Cherokee Nation fighting force of warriors, called for

the Elohi Gaghusdvdi 1 to be performed.

This Cherokee ritual is symbolic of "going to the water," where the whole nation

is unified, and spiritually reassured in the presence of any force which

threatens its life. It is performed when death occurs to a great and outstanding

leader of the people, and the departed leader's place must be filled with

another chosen chief. Also, when direct hostilities from white pressure involves

the Cherokee people.

1 The Elohi Gaghusdvdi is a ritual performed for national emergencies when the

survival of the Cherokee people is at stake. The word elohi (world) is employed

for "life." Gaghusdvdi is any support or underpinning: Hence, "The Support or

Foundation of Life" for continued existence.


The Elohi Gaghusdvdi is performed seven times in consecutive order. Seven

priests, each representing his respective clan, brings with him to an arranged

spot upon the west bank of a river, a bag of tsolagayvili. 2 The tobacco is

placed in a pile, and at midnight the representative of the Aniwahhya Clan

stands facing the east, and recites over it the Elohi Gaghusdvdi text four

times. The other six priests do the same in order of clan rep-resentation:

Anisahoni, Anigilohi, Aniwodi, Anitsisghwa, Anighahwi, and Anigodagewi. Each

clan representative, in the order given, takes a pipeful of tobacco, lights it,

and while smoking, slowly walks in a counter-clockwise circle. Smoke is blown

toward the east before the priest walks, and at each of the cardinal points

reached in the circle. He pauses, and facing squarely the respective direction,

blows smoke toward it. The entire ritual is repeated six more times, and the

series is spaced so that the final feat is completed just at dawn. The remaining

tobacco is divided among the seven priests, to be smoked at a later time.

Immediately after the ceremony, Sequoyah and Uhyalug, painted for war, 3 and,

under the leadership of assistant chiefs Doublehead and Bench, set out for

Buchanan's stockade. Just before they reached the trader's road, they saw two

white men sitting by a well-known Indian spring, eating and drinking from a clay

jug. Nearby, they saw three Cherokee women naked, lying on their backs with

their arms extended behind their heads, fled to trees. One woman was dead. She

had been slashed all over,

2 Tsolagayvli is a small leaf, pale white tobacco, which grows wild in the

southeastern states. It is a very old tobacco which Cherokees of the Wolf clan

claim was obtained by the wolf. Sacred because of its white color. One 0£ the

magic color symbolism associated with both compass points and qualities. white -

south, happiness and peace.

3 Battle idigawesdi for making wodi (paint) for protection during the battles

involved a great deal of time. The Cherokees made war paint from a variety of

materials selected for different reasons. Hematite was highly prized because it

is found inside stone, and no one can shoot through stone. The paint-maker went

at dawn to a secluded place to "work." He said his battle-charm four times over

his handiwork, blew his breath upon it, and held it up to the rising sun after

each recitation. Cherokee battl&charms and war paint for the ex-press purpose of

protection were synonymous. Each depended upon the other for the desired



and her pregnant belly entrails hanging out in a puddle of blood.

Sequoyah and Uhyalug crawled on their bellies behind the whites, while the

chiefs covered them with their guns in case of an escape. Sequoyah captured one

white man from behind, while Uhyalug downed the other. In Indian fury and

disgust for the whites, they scalped both alive, and then proceeded to cut them

to bits, scattering the white man flesh over the Cherokee lands. 4

Continuing on to Buchanan's stockade, the Cherokees waited and watched the place

until late in the afternoon, when they were reinforced by another group of

warriors. Taking no chances that a mishap would prevent them from driving the

whites out of the stockade, when it became dark, the warriors crept to the

portholes of the stockade, and began shooting at the whites inside. At the same

time, other warriors kept up a constant firing of guns and throwing torches on

the houses inside. Outside, fires were built against the stockade walls. Nine

white men were killed, and eleven women and children were taken prisoners by the

Cherokees. The stockade was burned down, and stolen Cherokee horses were

recovered. Dragging Canoe's death had been avenged.

The Cherokees returned to their respective villages, satisfied with the eleven

scalps. The warriors, under command of Chief Bloody Fellow, took the white women

and children to their village, where they were sent ihroughout the nation to

work in the fields and around Indian homes. The twenty-two horses were divided

among the warriors. That night all the warriors gathered Ifor the "Victory

Dance." (Commonly called the Scalp Dance.)

Although Cherokee warriors had avenged the death of their great chief,

leadership under the new war chief Bloody Fellow was not the same. It lacked the

wisdom of Dragging Canoe, and his forceful drive and tactics which had been the

mark of power and destruction for the Anglos for twenty-nine years.

4 The so-called Dripping Spring atrocity committed by the Chickamaugans on

Captain William Overall and Burnett, which in literature states that Doublehead

and his assailants scalped the two, then stripped their flesh, roasted and ate

it. Grace Steele Woodward, The Cherokees, p. 115.


When news of Dragging Canoe's death reached the white army on the upper

Tennessee River, Governor William Blount, the Indian agent, decided it was an

ideal time to strike - to destroy and burn all Cherokee villages in the nation,

leaving only those which could not be easily reached and destroyed without great

loss to the white-man army. Of course, the army was instructed to spare the

bribed friendlies' villages, in which there were a total of approximately 7,SOO-

or one-fourth of the Cherokee population.

At daybreak, one day in September 1794, the white army surprised the village of

Tsisdvnoyi, where they opened fire with their cannons, and slaughtered Indian

warriors, women and children. Both of Dragging Canoe's widows, and two of his

daughters, were killed, as was Bloody Fellow. Twelve miles below, at Crow Place,

Sequoyah, Whitepath, Chief Glass and others were awakened by the sound of

cannons. A runner came, telling them that the village of Tsisdvnoyi and Running

Water were burning; that warriors, women and children had been killed. "Run with

the women and children to the mountains, and come fight the whites," the runner

Ig told Chief Glass and Whitepath.

Quickly, warriors grabbed their guns, and ran up the Tennessee River to


Chief Glass instructed Sequoyah, Uhyalug, and Tsisgwanida to go with, and

protect the women and children of the village, on their way to the mountains in

North Carolina.

Leaving all except the clothes on their backs, and their horses, Sequoyah

snatched his gun and four of the clan record books. The people of Crow Place

crossed the Tennessee River into the state of Tennessee, many miles below what

is today Chattanooga. That warm September day in 1794, babies rode in blankets

and and cradleboards upon the backs of their mothers. Sequoyah scouted in front,

and Uhyalug and Tsisgwanida covered the rear of the three hundred and eighty-

nine people. They rode across to Fishinghawk Place, where food was given the

group, and warriors of the village quickly ran to help those whose villages were

being destroyed by the white army on the tributary


of the Tennessee River. Another group of women and children, and old persons,

joined Sequoyah and his people, who were fleeing to the mountains in North

Carolina. All day, and all night, and a part of the next day, was spent in

reaching the village of Sequoyah's father-in-law, Tsatsi Ughvi.

When Sequoyah, Uhyalug and Tsisgwanida had eaten, they took fresh horses from

his father-in-law's large herd, and again returned back over the mountains to

their villages to fight the soldiers. On the way, they met another group of

Cherokees whose village had been destroyed in Georgia. Proceeding by a shorter

path through the mountains, they arrived more than a mile away from what had

once been the village of Tsisdvnoyi - Crawfish Place.

It was now in ashes. Like storm-torn leaves, mangled bodies of Indians lay

twisted about, along with the dead horses, cattle and dogs. Their bodies were

bloated, and there were gaping holes, where the cannon shells had ripped them

open. Wolves and panthers had eaten their fill. Along the banks of Crawfish

Creek, and in the woods for miles, bodies of dead Indians, some in the waters,

some in the woods, floated in pools of blood.

Doublehead, Whitepath (who was shot in the arm and leg), Chief Glass, and a

group of warriors, met Sequoyah and his two companions below the slaughter place

of Crawfish. There the three warriors were looking in pain and seething anger at

the destruction, and at the torn body of Chief Bloody Fellow. Doublehead

informed Sequoyah that assistant chiefs Bench and Breath had been killed in

Running Water village; that the white army was then down at Crow and Lookout

villages burning them, and that chiefs, warriors, women and children had been

taken prisoners.

Soldiers guarded the burning Cherokee villages, waiting for the warriors to

return for their dead and the final fight. On top of Dunasi (Lookout) Mountain,

where much of their arms, ammunition, corn and other foodstuffs were stored in

what is today known as the Cave Of The Winds, soldiers confiscated Cherokee 'war

goods, and destroyed their reserve food supply.

C74 Sequoyah wrote of the tragedy. He said:

I stand, I look. All around, everywhere I see my dead people. Villages gone in

the smoke of the white's fire. Horses dead. Cattle dead, dogs dead. Canoes gone.

Over there, wolves and panthers feast on the dead. The hawk flies above, waiting

to strike. All around there is stillness, the dead. Over there on the river, I

hear the guns of the whites....

Indeed it was a Cherokee defeat. Not only had they lost three valuable chiefs,

but also their villages, many warriors, women and children, and their ammunition


Doublehead, now taking the leadership of the Cherokee Nation's fighting force of

warriors, decided that they would retreat to their confederacy, the Cherokee-

Creek Chief, John Watts, in the village of Wilistown, over in Alabama on Wills

Creek. There, they hoped to secure help and arms and ammunition to back them in

driving out the white armies from their nation.

But Doublehead's plan to seek help from the Creek confederacy was badly shaken.

When he arrived, he learned that John Watts5 had been notified by the Spanish a

few days before that they too were fighting and guarding their borders against

an invasion of the French and white Americans, and that in order to obtain the

needed war arms and ammunition, the Creeks and Cherok&es must get together and

send warriors to help them. As a result, more than nine hundred Cherokee

warriors were in a helpless condition without the needed powder and lead made at

the la Mines de Potosi in the Louisiana Territory. Cherokee guns were useless.

Sequoyah with the others waited, watched, and Jistened to the talks of

Doublehead, Bowl, Glass, Whitepath, John Watts, Will Webber and John McDonald. A

free-for-all fight broke out when the chiefs and maddened warriors argued. They

had become sodden drunk on whiskey made and supplied by Will Webber and John

McDonald. Sequoyah, Whitepath, Tsisgwan-

5 1n the literature, John Watts has been termed the chief of the Chickamaugans

after Dragging Canoe's death. This is a fallacy. He was an assistant chief only

of the Cherokee-Creek confederacy, and lived at Willstown. Wills town belonged

to the Creek Nation up until 1819.


ida with Uhyalug thrown across his horse, and less than two hundred warriors,

left Will's place in disgust.

Sequoyah had drunk the sweetened whiskey once before, becoming sick and addle-

headed, and unable to walk for several days. It had convinced him that the

sweetened burning water was an evil force and he should leave it alone. Even the

enticement by the white wives of mixed-blood and fullblood Indians in the

village coutd not induce him and the others to drink it.

The nondrinking little group retreated to Sugar Place, across the Alabama border

in Georgia, to await the outcome of Chief Doublehead's drunkenness, and his war

efforts with John Watts.

Meanwhile, the leaderless warriors, who had a supply of ammunition, went in

small groups to fight back the white army along the Tennessee and Coosa Rivers.

They were having a fieldday destroying Indian property.

Not only was the Cherokee Nation "struck down" from the Tennessee side by the

government's armies, but also by the armies coming up the Coosa River in Georgia

after the first onslaught in Tennessee. People, villages, livestock, and

foodstuff were cut down.

Five days after the white army invasion into the Cherokee Nation, the seven (not

five) socalled Chickamauga towns near the Tennessee River lay in waste. The

number of dead and prisoners was unknown. The Cherokees were unable to collect

their dead, since soldiers were stationed nearby to prevent them from doing so.

"Let the red bastards smell their own stink, it'll do them good - gentle them up

some," the soldiers told one another.

On the sixth day after the invasion, Governor Blount sent a message by a

Cherokee friendly named Broom to Doublehead and John Watts at Willstown. He

informed them that if they wanted the release of their warriors, women and

children, and no more destruction of their villages and people, they must sign

another treaty with the United States Government, and release all white and

black prisoners in the Cherokee Nation. Otherwise, their warriors would be shot;

the women and children and old ones sent into slavery.


The message had its effect. The Great White Father and his commissioners knew

that the most effective means to break the fighting spirit and resistance of the

Cherokee people, and to gain their lands, was to burn their villages, kill the

leaders and warriors, and take women, children and the old people prisoners.

Repeating this procedure every few years - when Indian lands were needed for the

white settlers - would break any Indian nation, and cause it to fold. It had

been very effective in past times with the fathers of the white ones who called

themselves Americans.

In utter defeat, Sequoyah, Whitepath, Uhyalug and almost two hundred warriors

returned to the vitlage of Tsatsi Ughvi in the North Carolina mountains. Along

the way, warriors stopped off in villages where their families had taken refuge

with clan relatives.

Groups of Cherokee volunteer workers were permitted by Governor Blount, under a

white flag of truce, to clean up the mess of dead in the burned-out villages in

Tennessee and Georgia. Two weeks later, Doublehead and John Watts released all

the white and black prisoners in the nation, and signed the treaty for the so-

called resister faction of the nation at the Tellico Blockhouse in early

November 1 794~ Additional Cherokee lands in Tennessee and North Carolina were

ceded to the United States. This cession of lands sealed the doom for thousands

of Cherokees who were followers of Dragging Canoe's fighting force, and on whose

lands at the time were five working gold mines, three on lands ceded.

Navigation on the Tennessee River by Cherokees, who since 1780, had traded their

gold directly to the Spanish for needed war supplies, and other trade goods, was

all but stopped. After the destruction of the seven fighting villages near the

Tennessee River, the whites patrolled and controlled the river route. Also,

white settlers had settled on the west side of the river, and fired upon the

Indians in their canoes whenever they used this route of travel. Since the

Treaty of Holston in 1791, in which Article V Istated: "It is stipulated and

agreed, that the citizens and inhabi-


tants of the United States, shall have a free and unmolested use of a road from

Washington district to Mero district, and of the navigation of the Tennessee


The river became a traffic jammed highway, flooded with white boats. When the

Cherokees signed the treaty with the whites, they thought that the whites would

abide by the treaty agreements. None 'ever did.

Article VI in the Treaty of Holston, gave the United States the sole right to

regulate Cherokee trade. This further crushed the fighting villages. Cherokee

gold, mined and hidden away in the caves, could never be used as a medium of

exchange with the United States.

Sequoyah's father-in-law, Tsatsi Ughvi, was indeed a lucky man. His village

lands and gold mine were not on the lands ceded to the United States. But the

Anglo squatters continued their push. Like the red-tail hawk flying over the

mountains and valleys, looking for nests of rabbits in the tall grasses and

brush, they settled within six miles of Tsatsi Ughvi's winding mountain cove.

Although Sequoyah's father-in-law and the people in his village were well-fixed

with a good fall harvest, the winter of 1794-95 was a lean one of near

starvation for many thousands of Cherokees living with clan relatives after the

devastating war with the whites. Tsatsi Ughvi shared his communal harvest with

tribesmen, many of whom had nothing but the clothes on their backs.




DURING THE WINTER of 1794-95, Sequoyah had the opportunity to take a good slow

look about his nation, where boundary lines had been marked with the United

States red and white tin markers, telling the Cherokees that they were

trespassing on lands taken from them, and closing in on the Indians a circle of

white settlements, like horses trapped on an island pasture. He pondered Indian

freedom and independence under the mighty power of the United States Government

- to become an "ant," or to seek independence and freedom to "become my own

master," like other groups of Cherokees who had given up the homelands of their

ancestors in the East for new homes in the West controlled by Spain.

He patiently waited, watched and wrote, for his concern was for those of his

people who, like himself, desired Indian freedom and independence.

Meanwhile, Doublehead, whom the people depended upon to show strength and sense

to the United States Government agents, turned out to be a sodden drunkard. He

lived in the government's newly built house on Wills Creek, where whiskey was

made, and flowed like a river.

The Indian agents were instructed to pamper the remaining so£alled "resistive"

chiefs. The Great White Father's dealings with Indians to gain their "good

will," dependence, and land cessions was to build the chiefs a fine log house

like the whites; set them up with a few black slaves, horses, cattle, and hogs,

which the government's armies had raided and previously con-


fiscated from the Cherokees all over their nation; give them and their families

fine clothes made by the whites - their styles to impress upon the rest of the

people a desire for wealth and material things like the Anglos accumulated for

social and political status.

Many Cherokee chiefs could not be "bought." But there were some who could be. It

was from taking the Angl~American bribes, and other clever ways thought up by

the whites, that the Indian nation was divided. By such means the whites were

able to gain control of the people, destroy tribal life, and monopolize Indian

trade without the consent of the majority of the tribe. These tactics had caused

confusion, scattered, and split factions among Indians, ever since the Pilgrims

landed on the rock.

Since the United States Government had knowledge of the Cherokee syllabary, and

the Indians were a divided and helpless people, the government decided it was

time to strike - to experiment with an entire tribe. The Great White Father

thought that if Indians could read and write their own language, they could be

forced to learn another - English. If the ''venture" worked, the government

would appropriate money to civilize and educate the heathens. 1

Once before in 1730, this "great experiment" had been tried, by the British, on

the small Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina.. The Lumbees readi,~ly adopted the

white man's language, customs and culture, and became "copies of white people."

Tribal life-ways were destroyed. And during the early seventeenth and eighteenth

centuries, many sons and daughters of the chiefs and mixed-bloods from the

northern and southern Indian tribes had been sent to England, Scotland, Spain

and France to become civilized" and white educated. But the earlier test was on

a smaller scale.

So on September 30,1795, William Blount called for a national council of all the

village chiefs in the Cherokee Nation, to be held at the Tellico Blockhouse.

1 In 1803, Congress appropriated $3,000 to civilize and educate the heathens.

"Chronology of Indian History: 1492-1955," American Aborigine, Vol. IV, No.1.

80 Sequoyah went to the meeting. With him was his father-in-law, Tsatsi Ughvi,

and Whitepath. He was not a chief. The purpose of this meeting was to introduce

to the Cherokee chiefs the United States Government's "great experiment" plan by

missionaries named Christian Frederic de Schweninitz and Abra ham Steiner. After

the council, Sequoyah wrote, both in the syllabary and in English, Rev.

Schweninitis talk. It is given in part, with corrected spelling and punctuation,

as follows:

I am come to you by the desire of your Great Father, the president of the United

States, and of your good fathers of the Society of United Brethren. The day of

wars are now past. A glorious day is dawning. Never before was the prospect for

Cherokees so bright. Your fathers, the Christian white people, are rejoicing in

these events, and praying to God for their red children. They are making plans

for your happiness. The president, your great Father and the Congress of the

United States, the great council of our nation feel for you, and wishes to

promote your welfare. I am come in behalf of your Great Father to offer you the

hand of sincere friendship, and the blessings which he has to bestow upon you.

You, the Cherokees, have been chosen over all other tribes of Indians to receive

these blessings. We wish you to receive them, because we know if you do they

will make you and your people happy. If you refuse them, the consequences to

you, and your posterity will be lamentable. Your game is already diminishing and

soon will be gone. You will waste away and perish as hundreds of tribes of your

brethren in the country East of you have so successively perished before you...

Children, your father, the president, thinks that a great change is necessary in

order to save his red children from ruin, and to make them happy. I will now lay

before you some of the reasons why he believes that such a change in your

situation is necessary for your existence and happiness.

Children, listen attentively to what I am now about to say to you. It is for

your life and the life of your children.

Your fathers once possessed all the country, East and South, North and West to

the great waters. They were numerous and powerful, and lived chiefly by

lijinting and fishing. They had brave warriors, orators, and eloquent men in

council. Then a great pestilence spread among Indians on the coast of the great

ocean to the East, and swept away a great part of them. Just after this great

plague, the white peo-


ple began to come across the great waters. They settled first on lands where no

Indians lived; where all had died. Other white people came. These white people

came as friends of the Indians. They purchased of them a little land to support

them and their children by agriculture. God prospered the white people, and they

have since increased and multiplied. They became a great and powerful nation,

and now spread over a wide extent of the country of your fathers; and are

spreading still more over other parts of it, purchasing millions of acres of

your good lands, leaving for you and your children, reservations.

Indians cannot associate with the white people as their equals, while they still

retain their present language, dress, and habits of life. They will feel

inferior to the white person. Where Indians have no game to hunt, to furnish

them with furs to trade and with food to eat, they become poor people, wretched

and spiritless. They give themselves up to idleness, ignorance, and drunkenness

and waste away. You cannot go to the East or West for the great ocean will stop

you, and besides either course are the hunting grounds and dwelling places of

other tribes of your red brethren. Nor can you go to any other country and live

as you now live, the countries are already in-habited... This prospect must fill

your minds with sad apprehensions for yourselves and your children, and sink

your spirits as it does my own... Children be of good cheer. Though your

prospects may now be gloomy, they can change for the best if you wish it. If you

desire to be happy, you can be happy. They are now freely offered to you.

Children listen. I will tell you in a few words what your Great Father and

Christian white people desire of you. We lay before you our opinion for you to

consider. Consider our advice well. Your father, the president, wishes Cherokees

to partake with his white children, in all the blessings which they enjoy; to

have one country, one govremment, the same laws, equal rights and privileges,

and to be in all respects on equal footing with them. These blessings Cherokees

cannot enjoy while they remain ignorant of our laws, language, religion, our

government and modes of life - while you live in hunter state, dress as you now

dress, and live in small villages.

Your father would have you learn our language. You who are old may not be able

to learn it, but you can have your children learn it. Your father wishes you to

quit hunting for your food, and live by cultivating the earth. Your father

wishes you to divide your lands into townships and farms, as the lands of the

white people are di-


vided; each man to have a farm of his own with title which he can transmit to

his children; a house and barn, oxen, cows, and horses; fields of corn, wheat

and potatoes, gardens and fruit, and to dress and live like the white people; to

have one language and to enjoy all the comforts of life. In this way you would

avoid the evils which you are now suffering... You would then be companions and

equals with your white brethren, and be prepared, in due time to sit and

deliberate with them in the councils of the nation. To accomplish these good

purposes, your Great Father, the president, and your Christian fathers will send

among you at their own expense, good white men and women to instruct you and

your children in everything that per-tains to the civilized and Christian

life... We would wish the Cher~ kees to accept these offers... All who accept

them will be saved and raised to respectability and usefulness in life...

Civilization or ruin is the only alternative of the Cherokees....

The speech of the missionaries tore into Sequoyah's soul like a winging arrow.

These white people, whose armies had shattered the Cherokee Tribe and had taken

their lands, were saying to the Indians, give up your culture - your life-ways

which we don't like, nor understand - and do as I do. Destroy every living thing

that stands in your way to accomplish this purpose in life, like white people

did. It was like telling birds to become like snakes.

Chief Doublehead told the missionaries, on behalf of the subdued fighting

faction of his people, that no missionaries, nor anyone else who wished to

change tribal life would be permitted to come and live in the nation. But many

of the friendlies and mixed-blood village chiefs agreed to allow the

missionaries to live in their village, and to teach them and their children.

On their return to their village, the former fighting faction of chiefs held a

general council in Tsatsi Ughvi's village. Sequoyah made a great decision at

that council. It was decided to forego the requirement of ancient Taliwa blood;

admit all trusted Cherokees to the Seven Clan Scribe Society, and to fight the

"great experiment" civilization program of the United States government with

their own syllabary, to be taught to all who wished to learn their own writing

and reading. Sequoyah was


the only scribe left in the nation. Others had been either killed, or had

removed to the West.

So the teaching task began in October 1795. In each village chief's council, the

people gathered and were informed about the ninety-two symbols that represented

parts of syllables in their language, and were shown the ancient thin gold

plates upon which the symbols' were engraved by their forefathers - the Taliwa.2

He explained to ihem that many of the symbols and syllables stood for different

word meanings, and that there was no capitalization, nor punctuation to be used

in writing the syllabary. The people were instructed on how to write the

symbols, and how to read them according to the dialect that they spoke, using

one of the six symbols as a mnemonic key to their own particular dialect.

Sequoyah showed them how to use the mnemonic key symbols the length and pitch

sounds of the spoken language. A symbol syllabary, and a hard-printed dictionary

of all Cherokee words and their meanings were presented to each village, along

with a Cherokee number syllabary up to one million.

During Sequoyah's teaching session, he was busy part of the time compiling names

of tribal members of each of the seven clans. A record of those members trusted,

and those known to be traitors among the tribe were listed on thick logbooks.

These tribal name records are the property of descendants living in Mexico and

Central America whose ancestors fled into exile.

In late December 1795, Sequoyah's second wife, Tsisdunigisdi, died after giving

birth to a baby girl. The baby lived, increasing his family to three boys and

three girls. Whitepath and his family, and many of the former warriors and their

families, moved from Sequoyah's father-in-law's valley to their newly-built

village at the foot of Turnip Mountain on the North Carolina and Georgia line.

Sequoyah's teaching task did not begin too soon. In the spring of 1796, there

came, into the four corners of the Cherokee Na-

2 There are 92 symbols in the original Cherokee syllabary. Seven symbols were

discarded by the Rev. Samuel A. Worcester, and many others were reworked within

the framework of the Roman letters. Six of the discarded symbols served as a key

to the six different dialects in the language.


tion, the worst invasion of whites that had occurred since the late wars with

the white armies two years previous. The Great White rather began his push to

civilize the Cherokees, and to force them to become like the whites.

Teachers and missionaries of every sort came to the nation to teach the heathens

English and Christianity. Blacksmiths, carpenters, millers, tinsmiths, cobblers,

weavers, dressmakers and the like, both men and women, flooded the nation.

Others came to build roads, to mine the ore in the earth, and to spy for the

Great White Father and his Indian agents. These "good government workers," whose

own education and talents were limited, stole and raped the defeated Indian


The "experiment" began at the mixed-blood and friendlies villages, which were

located nearer to the white settlements and the public roads being built in the

nation. The mass of the Cherokees did not want nor desire the white conformity

program forced upon them, nor the constant arguing and quarreling of the

missionaries and teachers who, when confronted with Indian stubbornness and

silence, taunted the Indians by poking fun at their color and cultural heritage,

low-rating and stripping the elders in the eyes of their young.

One night in August 1797, Sequoyah became ill with a burning fever, and for two

days fell into a deep sleep. In that sleep, a dream came to him. He heard cries

of women and children. He saw great warriors, with whom he had once fought and

who had taken much "white hair," standing at the white man's fort in their

country, holding out their hands for the Angl~American made goods. He saw

soldiers grinning like 'possums, handing out gourds of whiskey to the warriors

and their women from wooden barrels, and ears of corn to the children from a

corn pile at the fort gate. On and on he heard the women and children crying.

Then he saw an Indian man on a red horse trotting toward him from the east. The

man wore a white buckskin shirt and leggings. His head and feet were bare. On

the man's shoulder, rode a white buzzard. As the Indian passed toward the west,

he yelled to Sequoyah, "Ka! Ka! Ka!" Then he vanished into white clouds.


When Sequoyah awoke, he asked for Whitewater, the conjurer and special diviner

of Tsatsi Ughvi's village. He told him of his dream He asked Whitewater to go

with him to the top of Unegv (White) Mountain, to the sacred white pool of water

that flowed from a bubbling spring, to determine the cause of his illness and

the meaning of his dream. He gave Whitewater a large gold nugget for his


On top of Unegv Mountain, beside the pool of clear white water, Whitewater cut a

stick three feet long from a cedar tree, and at daybreak went alone to tha edge

of the pool. Facing the reddening Fast, he put one end of the stick in his mouth

to moisten it, and told his name, his patient's name, and both clan names. Then

he placed the unmoistened end of the stick down into the water until it was half

immersed. Slowly, he made four counterclockwise circles of two feet in diameter,

timing each with a full statement of a prayer, until the text of the divining

charm was fully stated. When the prayer was finished, Whitewater brought the

stick to the center of the circle, where it rested, while he studied the

appearance of the water within the circle. The water in the pool remained clear

and still. Nothing moved. Whitewater told Sequoyah that the still water was a

bad omen; that he was that man on the red horse in his dream going to the West

to find a new place for their crying women and children, and that he would give

him a special idigawesdi for his protection when he was ready to go.

At a general council in Tsatsi Ughvi's village, of all conservative village

chiefs of the nation's faction, and Chief Doublehead, Sequoyah told the people

his dream. He told about the evil sign, and his decision to go to the West.

Village chiefs said that they wished him to go and see the Western country -

what it was like - and to return to the old country when his family was settled.

"They too would want to go if it was a good land," they said.

When Sequoyah told his people of his decision to go West, he never thought that

many might wish to go with him and his family. But it became evident when Tsesi

Tsola, whose village was destroyed in 1793, and his lands ceded to the



told Sequoyah that he and another village chief, Canon, their families and

clansmen wished to leave the nation with him.

Preparations were made for the western emigrants. From Tsatsi Ughvi's village,

clansmen donated eighteen horses that had escaped the white armies' destruction.

Some of these were packed with Indian dehydrated food, a little clothing and

blankets, axes, bows and aTrows, and a few guns and ammunition.

On the sixteenth day of October, 1797, Sequoyah, with his wife and six children,

and Tsesi Tsola, political chief of the group of eighty-nine Cherokees, began

their journey to the West. The men and women walked, while the children rode the

packed horses through their southern neighbors' country, the Creeks and

Chickasaws of Alabama and Mississippi.

Sequoyah's position with his small group was that of scribe, guide and speaker,

since he spoke several Indian languages, as well as Spanish, fair English, and

phonetic French. His knowl-edge of the country beyond the Mississippi was vital

to the small group of emigrant Indians. He had been there many times on missions

for Chief Dragging Canoe. But the political responsibility of the group was

under the leadership of Tsesi Tsola, brother of one of Dragging Canoe's deceased

wives, and his assistant, Canon.

Sequoyah never wished to become a leader - a chief, and he never considered

himself as one - he never referred to himself as Chief Tsatsi Tvsis. His

mountain people chose him to lead and guide them because of his judgment, keen

knowledge, understanding, and action. In him, the people saw and felt the

strength of endurance as a people.

Tsatsi Ughvi gave each man, the head of a family, a buckskin pouch of gold

nuggets - a tribal religious gift of the Earth Mother. The old man gave his

eldest daughter, wife of Sequ~ yah, seven buckskin pouches of gold, for her to

give as presents to the tribe on whose lands the Cherokees would be bound to


They crossed the Mississippi River, at a place known today as Memphis, and

continued their journey through the Spanish

87 Territory to the Trinity River in what is now Texas. There Chief Springfrog

had his Cherokee settlement.

Many groups of Cherokees had emigrated to the West during the early seventeenth

and eighteenth centuries, under leadership of chosen chiefs. Some of these split

groups settled on lands which belonged to the Osage Tribe, without the Osage

permis-sion. The Osage were trying to hold on to their hunting lands and the

profitable fur trade with the French fur traders who had established trading

stores among them. Like the Cherokees, other emigrant tribes from east of the

Mississippi were crowding in on Osage lands, and taking their hunting lands for


There were many battles between the Osage and the older roups of Cherokees who

had settled in what is today known as Arkansas, Oklahoma and Kansas.

Fighting other tribes of Western Indians did not appeal to Sequoyah, and Tsesi

Tsola, who knew of the Cherokee and Osage battles, chose to go farther beyond

across the Red River. Here there were more lands, and less crowded.

The Cherokees were agricultural people - the same as most Indian tribes. They

hunted to provide their meat and some clothing supplies. There was no

compulsion, nor desire to store up material wealth as the whites' accumulated.

Cultural teachings taught Indians to share what they had with other members of

the tribe. Not to share brings humility and shame upon any conservative Indian.

Indians who emigrated to the West needed little of the material goods. The lands

provided food, clothing and shelter. All that they desired was independence and


Sequoyah and his group arrived at Chief Springfrog's settlement on the Trinity

River in mid January of 1798. They were welcomed by their tribesmen, and the

emigrants lived in the homes of their kinsmen for more than a year.

In the late summer of 1799, Sequoyah, Tsesi Tsola and Ganon settled their group

along a clear river, a day's horseback ride from Springfrog's settlement - lands

that belonged to the Comanches. Grass in the valley was head high. Along the

river were pecan, oak, and walnut trees for building their homes.


The first few years in the West were different and peaceful for Sequoyah and

Tsesi Tsola's group, even though the emigrants missed the homelands of their

ancestors. Few white people lived in the West, for the Spanish had done little

to populate Indian lands with their people.

The Spanish operated a trading post and garrison on what is now the Louisiana

and Texas line at Nacogdoches. The El Camino Real (the King's Road) began out of

Coahuila to San Antonio (a Spanish mission), on to Bexar (another mission), and

to Nacogdoches. But the Cherokees, as well as some other emigrated Indians,

lived away from the Spanish. The Indians did not wish to be controlled by white

men and their laws, which they did not understand, nor wish to understand.

Indians traded with Indians. They hunted the wild sheep, goats, buffalo, horses

and wild cattle on the plains and in the mountains. The lands gave them

everything they needed and wanted, even to gold and silver for jewelry, and a

medium of exchange with other tribes whenever they needed other trade goods.




IN THE EARLY summer of 1806, Sequoyah, Uhyalug and assistant Ganon returned to

the southeastern Cherokee Nation. Sequoyah told his people about the Western

country and their

peaceful settlement on the Brazos River. Encouraged and sattisfied with the

"painted" description of the West, Sequoyah led

another group of eight hundred and twelve of his people to the


This was the year of near starvation of the people in the old nation. Crops

failed. The year of the smallpox epidemic in the East as well as the West - one

of the white man's bad diseases. In Springfrog's settlement on Trinity River,

Springfrog and many of his people died from the plague. It was also the year

that Chief Doublehead chose to emigrate the majority of his people to the West.

Since the fall of the nation in 1794, up to 1806, under forced pressure from the

United States Government and its agents, Chief Doublehead had signed one land

ceding treaty after another, every year or so, until very little of their lands

re-mained in the southeast nation. The lands ceded in 1806, by Chief Doublehead

and other village chiefs, were exchanged with the government - with the usual

money bribes, and annuities in trade goods - for new lands in the newly

purchased Louisiana Territory. These new lands of the Cherokees emigrating to

the West, who still remained under the sovereignty of the United

States, were in the Arkansas Territory, extending to the Missouri

90 Territory. There were already many thousands of Western Cherokees scattered,

in small groups with their chosen leader, who lived from the White River in the

southwest corner of the Missouri Territory to the headwaters of the Arkansas in

the Rocky Mountains, and southwestward between the forks of the Canadian and

Colorado Rivers in the Spanish Territory.

The Cherokees who wished to remain under the sovereignty of the United States,

moved years later to the old and established settlements in what is today

Arkansas and Eastern Oklahoma, under the leadership of Chief Digadoya.1 Other

Cherokee groups moved across the Red and Colorado Rivers, which was then the

dividing line between the United States and Spain.

The United States GovernmenCs "great experiment" had worked so forcibly on the

mixed-blood and friendly Cherokees that, in 1803, three thousand dollars were

appropriated to civilize and educate the heathens. In 1804, the Cherokee removal

clause was attached to the Louisiana Purchase provision. Chief Doublehead and

other village chiefs of the nation, who signed a land ceding treaty with the

government that year, learned about it. President Jefferson told the Cherokee

chiefs that they would follow the civilization and educational program set up by

President Washington, or be crushed by it; that they could remove to the West to

avoid it if they wished. Chief Doublehead said that he would divide the nation -

those of his people who wished to become educated, and like the white people

could live in one part, and those who wished to retain their own native laws,

culture and tribal heritage, could live in the other part. But the United States

Government would not listen, nor would they agree to Doublehead's wishes. The

Indians were wild animals and "wards" of the white man's government and its laws

- they were told what to do. Indians, as far as the United States Government was

concerned, had no wishes, nor desires of their own. These wild animals were to

be tamed by the Great White Father, and his "dogooders." So the only recourse

and escape left to Doublehead was to immi-

1 The Man Stands, commonly referred to in literature as Takotoka.


grate the mass of his people to the West - exactly what the United States

Government knew an Indian chief whose concern for his people would do.

The government gladly furnished Doublehead with flatboats, and promised him a

part of the annuities paid to the southeast nation for land cessions; and

between the summer of 1806 to 1808, Chief Doublehead, with much help from

Sequoyah, Ganon, Uhyalug, and many Western Cherokees, moved more than five

thousand of their people to the West.

But when Chief Doublehead returned in 1808 for several more boatloads of

emigrant Indians, he was shot and killed by John Ridge, a fullblood white-

educated traitor who had sold his soul to the white man for material wealth,

social and political prestige - the socalled "good capitalist way.' The

government had trained the friendlies to turn their backs on their own people,

heritage and tribal welfare. These "good Indians" were ashamed of being Indians.

They were ashamed of being brown-skinned.

The friendlies figured that should the majority of their people emigrate to the

West, the minority would be forced by the government to join their brothers.

Approximately nine to ten thousand Cherokees had learned the United States' mode

of capitalism. These had no intention of leaving their homelands. To prevent the

majority of the people from emigrating, and further land cessions to the United

States, John Ridge was selected to eliminate Chief Doublehead - the majority's

chief of the split nation. Without the wisdom, judgment and leadership Iof their

chosen chief to help the mass of the people to the West, the Indians would give

up the idea, become confused and reconciled to live under the "New Order" 2 of

Cherokee government and leadership.

2 The New Order Cherokee government and leadership was based on European concept

of dominance by a central figure, which began in 1730. The principal chief was

selected by the president of the United States because of his military aid and

alliance to the small nation, and his power to destroy tribal life-ways.


Again in 1809, Sequoyah and Ganon returned to the southeast nation to move

another small group of their mountain people to the settlement on the Brazos

River. Sequoyah saw the drastic changes that had taken place in his tw~year

absence. Those Cherokees who lived in the northwest corner of Alabama, north

Georgia, and some near the Tellico trading factory and garrison in southeast

Tennessee, were following the Anglo's culture and customs to become capitalists.

They accepted the civilization and educational program that offered the white

man S teachings, his religion and his materialistic wealth, in order to live in

their native homelands and to compete with the whites.

The conservative faction, who lived in the mountain coves of Tennessee and the

western corner of North Carolina refused the "great experiment" - to abandon

their tribal heritage, culture and language, and take up the white man's mode of

civilization in order to "please the whites." They grubbed their living out of

the ground, as they had done in the past. But there was a drastic change and

difference from past times. Conservative Indians could hunt the game to

supplement their food sum ply, and could use their hidden gold whenever there

was a need for trade goods to trade with Indian traders or the Spanish in the

IiSouthwest. This was of critical import in a crop failure - they were able to

get agricultural products for gold. Now the wild game was gone from their

closed-in nation. Their gold was useless. They could neither eat it, wear it,

nor trade it with the Angl~Americans who regulated Cherokee trade. And noncon-

forming Cherokees were told by the New Order principal chief and the

missionaries to accept the whites' civilization program; or to "root hog or


Indeed, in the year 1809, Sequoyah urged Whitepath and his father-in-law, and

all conservatives living in the mountains of North Carolina and Tennessee, to

fight the "rulers," and preserve their heritage. He said, "You must not become

like them. You will be destroyed. The children must learn to write and read our

language . .. what others write to them, a mile away, or a thousand miles away."

He told them that their most


effective and defensive tool against the teachers and missionaries of the United

States Government was their written syllabary, and he asked them to use it to

communicate with others throughout the nation and in the West, but to keep the

"secret weapon" their own heritage and gift from the ancient ones. Sequoyah and

Ganon promised they would return in a year to emigrate the balance of nearly

three thousand of their people to the West. Whitepath and Sequoyah's father-

in4aw, Tsatsi Ughvi, remained in the old nation to help their people - the


In the summer of 1810 an epidemic of cholera broke out in Tejas (Texas), and the

War of Independence began in Mexico the same year. Also, in December of 1811, an

earthquake occurred in Tennessee, on the Mississippi River, which was felt by

the Indians as far west as the Colorado River. In Tennessee, areas of land sank,

forest and ~l, and into this hole of the Earth Mother, overflowed the waters of

the Mississippi River, trapping and killing whites and Indians alike. The place

today is known as Reelfoot Lake. In the West, on the Brazos River, Cherokee

emigrants and other Indian tribes felt the blunt of the earthquake. The Earth

Mother shook herself so hard that she split herself open, swallowing up whole

forests, creating the falls of the Brazos, and leaving a trim line of "Tall

Timbers" (forest), five to fifty miles wide from the Trinity northward to the

Arkansas. Indian settlements were shattered.

Because of these conditions, and the cholera which Sequoyah contracted, he and

his assistants were forced to wait until the following year to move the balance

of his people to the West.

But the United States war with England began in the year 1812, and the little

new nation needed the Cherokees and other eastern Indian tribes to help defend

the sovereign country. Too, there was the Spanish to contend with, and so close

- the United States Government could not afford to allow any more southern

Indians to move to the West at that critical period. They were fearful that the

dissatisfied and conquered Indians might unite and fight on behalf of the enemy,

which many tribes did.


So in order to keep the Western chiefs happy and contented, and allies to the

United States, 3 the United States Government hurriedly sent emissaries to carry

the Great White Father's "presents" to the Western Cherokees, and to force them

to choose sides against Great Britain. The most qualified and trusted allies

that Indian agent, Return Jonathan Meigs could find was the future chief, John

Ross, and his selected partisans, George Lowery, his brother John Lowery, and

John Ridge.

Sequoyah and Ganon were unable to emigrate the Cherokee faction from the old

country until the white people stopped fighting among themselves - if they ever


3 Aside from the fact of the so-called evidence of George Guess's war record in

the Creek War of 1813, and Sally Guest, his supposed wife's affidavit with

Indian agent George Builer in October 1855 for government bounty land; no

Cherokee could own land privately in the Cherokee Nation. Improvements such as

homes, barns, and aops on the lands were private property. The lands were tribal

property. Chief John Ross and his assistants knew this when they made the sworn

statement before a Jusfice of the Peace in Washington in May, 1860.



THERE WAS an interval of six years before Sequoyah returned to the southeastern

Cherokee Nation. During the waiting period his first wife Tsini died from the

cholera. When he received a letter from his brother Whitepath, and one from his

father-in-law, informing him that they were ready and waiting to move their

faction of the people to the West in the summer of 1816, he decided that it

would also be an excellent time to "hunt" for a wife while in the old nation.

In one of his father-in-law's previous letters, he had related to Sequoyah that

his youngest daughter, Eli was a recent widow, caused by the beating given her

husband by Joseph Vann. Sequoyah thought that the sister of his first wife would

be an ideal wife, if she would marry him. He thought that her shorn hair should

be shoulder length in two years' time.

In late September 1816, Sequoyah and Uhyalug crossed the Mississippi River into

Mississippi, riding the land route through the Choctaw and Creek Nations,

leading one pack horse loaded with presents for relatives in the old nation. To

impress Eli and his in4aws, Sequoyah wore his finest clothes of white buckskin.

His hunting shirt was fringed around the sleeves and bottom. Across the back and

down the front were brilliantly cut beads of turquoise and red polished stones.

The shirt reached to his knees, and was tied with a belt made of interwoven red

and white horsehair. Under the shirt, he wore white buckskin pants, drawstring

tied around the waist. His moccasins were dyed


brown from the walnut smoke, and his companion, Uhyalug was equally as well


Whitepath had informed Sequoyah of the nation's new police force, the "Light

Horse Guard," who patrolled the nation and its borders, preventing intruders

from entering unless they had a little piece of paper with their name upon it

stating their business in the nation, and issued by the principal chief of the

New Order Cherokee government. The paper was called a pass." The Indian agent,

Meigs had instructed the principal chief and his assistants how to use it.

Sequoyah and Uhyalug were watchful when they crossed into the old country, and

climbed their horses into the mountains across to North Carolina and into the

valley of Tsatsi Ughvi.

Four hundred and sixty-two people were in the village to welcome Sequoyah and

Uhyalug home. But due to illness, Whitepath and his family were unable to attend

the celebration and homecoming.

Through Uhyalug, Sequoyah presented to Eli a sacred white buffalo robe, and she

returned to him the sacred ear of colored corn, her willingness to become his

wife. So the Blanket Dance and feast was held on the seventh day.

Neither Sequoyah, nor Eli was considered young. He was fifty, and she was

thirty-nine. He had seven living children.

Her two by Dayi had died in infancy. Sequoyah, nearly six feet tall, wore his

hair shoulder length. It is said that Eli was short, little and light, like a


Sequoyah and Eli lived temporarily in a house in his father-in-law's village

until arrangements and a council of all conservatives who wished to emigrate to

the West could be held at Tsatsi Ughvi's village.

When Sequoyah had received no message from Whitepath in two weeks, he had sent a

letter to him, by Uhyalug, "to see what was the matter. And another letter was

written to a vilage chief, Tsulogilia whose village Uhyalug would pass through

on his way to Whitepath. The words in the corn shuck letter that Sequoyah wrote

Whitepath are the following:


Beloved brother: Now, Now I send you 'this letter. I wish you come to my in-laws

place, Tsatsi Uglivi. The one called Eli walks behind me. It happened fourteen

suns ago. We are to talk about going where the sun goes down. I ask you to come

my brother, and bring the others to talk, and the tobacco. I, Tsatsi Tvsis just

wrote this, October 28, 1816.

While riding through the mountains, on his way to Whitepath's village, Uhyalug

was discovered by the Cherokee Nation police. They asked to see his pass, and

searched him, since the clothing he wore was evidence to them that he was not a

permanent Cherokee resident of the nation. And any Cherokee from the West was

considered an enemy and traitor by the Iron Rule progressive leaders.

The Indian police found the letter to Whitepath, and being ignorant of the

Cherokeean written symbols, they asked Uhyalug what they were, and where he was

going. He refused to divulge the secret written syllabary and his destinaton.

The police beat him with their gun butts. Still Uhyalug refused to tell them

what they wished to know. In order to obtain the information from him, the

police took hirn to Major John Ridge, at Ridge's Ferry on the Tennessee River.

At Major Ridge's place, the New Order Cherokee Rulers, composed of Major Ridge,

Chief Pathkiller, George Lowery, John Lowery, John Ridge (Major Ridge's son),

Thomas Sanders, David Vann and James Brown tortured Uhyalug by whim ping his

bare back with a green cut stick. When this method failed to produce the desired

results, they cut off his nose; then his ears and fingers. Still they got

nothing from him. Then they sent out among the people for those who had gone

raving crazy from the religiously fanatic teachings of the missionaries. These

crazy Cherokees were told that Uhyalug was a witch, and to kill him. The crazy

ones immediately did as they were told - cutting Uhyalug to pieces with knives

furnished by the destroyers.

Before Uhyalug died, he uttered one word of his magic charm which the Rulers

understood to be Whitepath. So the Cherokee police and the others, except Chief

Pathkiller, proceeded to Whitepath's village. The police and Major Ridge found



ideal method by which they forced Whitepath to read and explain the strange

symbols to them-even though he was sick, and lying on a feather mat on the floor

of his home. The police took his wife away from him with the threat of bonded

slavery to her; therefore, Whitepath was forced to reveal to them the contents

of Sequoyah's letter.

After Whitepath read Sequoyah's letter to the group, he proudly said to them:

"We got our own talking leaf. It is written; there you see! We have no need for

the white man's words, his laws."

Whitepath was forced to take Major Ridge, George Lowery, John Ridge, David Vann,

James Brown and two preachers by the name of Potts and Turtle Fields, and the

eight police to the village of Tsatsi Ughvi. There Sequoyah was staying with his

new wife. Whitepath was a member of the newly formed Cherokee council. 1 His

conservative people had chosen him for that position. He was the one village

chief whom the nonconforming Indians could depend upon for good judgment, to

"show strength," and to watch and listen to the talks of the leaders for the

benefit of the people waiting to emigrate to the West.

Gedi, the daughter of Sequoyah and Eli, describes in one of her ledger books

what happened to her father and mother when the rulers of the southeastern

nation discovered the one whose force shadowed the Cherokee syllabary, and that

the "marks" really did "talk":

... Now many times my father, Sogwali and my mother Eli tell me, my sisters and

brothers how the Rulers stole our writings, and made the symbols over. And the

reason my father Sogwali was cut it" and branded.

My father Sogwali was living at my grandfather Tsatsi Ughvi's place on White

Fires River with my mother Eli in North Carolina. They come. Yes! George Lowery,

John Lowery, Major Ridge, John Ridge, James Brown, preachers by the names of

Potts and Fields, and the Light Horse Guard. Whitepath was made to bring them.

1 Laws of the Cherokee Nation, Tahlequah, Cherokee Nation, (C.N.), Cherokee

Advocate Office, 1852. Pp 213-215.


They are the ones who first formed a council to judge my father Sogwali. They

not know that most of our trusted people could rea and write our language.

Hundreds of years, our people hide what they write from the unegvs {whites] and


They come riding down the side of the mountain to my grand father's place. The

place where my father and mother was living wa about half mile away. That

traitor, Major Ridge, and whiteblood George Lowery were the speakers. They tell

my grandfather they want to see the man that wrote that letter to Whitepath, and

sign his name Tsatsi Tysis. Whitepath tell my grandfather, Tsatsi Ughvi "Beloved

brother, I did not wish to bring them here; they forced me to come. I do not

wish you and my brother Sogwali evil from them..." My grandfather say to Major

Ridge that he would go to the house of my father Sogwali, and tell him he was

wanted by members of the council of the nation. George Lowery7 John Ridge, anc

Fields went with my grandfather. Others sat on kanons and the ground in the yard

of my grandfather's home and waited.

It was middle of morning in November i8i6.

My father Sogwali and mother Eli returned with grandfather and the others. My

mother's sisters and my mother's brothers, and many people of grandfather's

village come when they see that they were it the company of men from Dunasi

(Tennessee]. All went to the council house. My father Sogwali, went to Whitepath

and took his hands. Whitepath say to him that he was truly pained to cause him

trouble and to say his igawesdi....

Then Major Ridge spoke to my father. He said: "We saw that letter you wrote with

marks; we heard the words read by White path, your brother. We do not like what

we heard from thai piece of corn shuck paper. Our people do not leave the lands

of their Old Ones. We have preachers, teachers, and black books to teach Iour

people and their children wavs of the whites. We are learning. You that come

back from the West, put evil thoughts in our pco pIe's heads. Our people don't

learn. They want to leave the old country. We want to see you write your magic

marks. We want you to read what you write."

George Lowery tell my grandfather to bring pen and paper. Young Squirrel,

grandfathers son, go to his house and bring back corn shuck paper and charcoal.

He give these to my father Sogwali. My father asked what he should write. Major

Ridge tell him to write what he should like that he can read to them. My father

wrote in the


Anitasgigi dialect; these words: "The lands of our Old Ones are the lands of the

whites and black coats. Our people will die in the smoke of the white fire

kindled by the whites among them. Like the mad dog, they will die." He read the

words to them.

George Lowery and Turtle Fields jumped to their feet, and called my father a

devil. A Sigwoyi. A evil man. They hit him with guns. Then they took my father

Sogwali by the arms and tied him. Major Ridge say to my father that he was a

witch. "You know what will happen to you if you are found to be a witch. You

will be cut-up and burned."

The preachers, Potts and Fields, say that my father Sogwali was a sorcerer. That

the devil was in him, to kill him there. Quickly. Major Ridge say: "No, we will

take him to the King's District and let our judges decide about him."

Then my mother, Eli, tell Major Ridge that she can write and read what she has

written. He tell her to write. My mother Eli write this: "Over there in the

Light of the Seven Heavens, I appeared. Those of the Seven Clans who think evil

of me lie about." My mother read the symbols she write to them.

All the evil people there yelled that my mother, Eli too, was a witch. The

preachers tell Major Ridge the world would come to end. Their God would bring

the fire of Hell to burn the Cherokee Na-tion of people. The preachers grabbed

my mother's arms and held her.

Major Ridge ask my grandfather if anyone else write the marks. IMy grandfather

say to him: "All through the mountains, the Seven Clan Society of our peoples,

thousands of our people read their words, and other's words. You will need to

kill us all. Other Indians of other tribes, living with our people, write and

read our language. Hundreds of them across the Amaegwa [Mississippi River] write

and read. We have no need for the white preachers and the teachers."

Major Ridge tell my grandfather Tsatsi Ughvi that he and my grandmother Eni

[Annie] would be permitted to remain in their village. They were old ones, he

say. George Lowery, John Lowery and James Brown tied my father and mother hands

together with horsehair rope. Major Ridge tell my grandfather to get them horses

to ride. They go and bring two of my grandfather's good horses for my father and

mother to ride to Gigageyi ~Red Clay], over there in Dhunisi [Tennessee], many

miles from my grandfather's place in North Carolina.


Yes, the white bloods and the traitors took my father and mother away out of the

mountains, and they had a council. They judged them. That white blood Charles

Hicks and Chief Pathkiller, the traitor. Others were Major Ridge, John Ridge,

George Lowery, John Lowery7 James Graves, David Brown, and white preachers named

Kingsbury, Homes, Potts and Fields. They sent for all the Tsalagi [Cherokee]

that were evil and traitors. Ones who were like white people and the ones that

were crazy. In the open Council House at Charles Hicks place, all assembled.

There they had a big Feast for all that come to see, and to judge my father

Sogwali and my mother, Eli.

They tied my father to one tree, and my mother to another one away from him.

Then the white preachers started talking and praying to their God to help the

Sinners from HeH's Fire. My mother, Eli say they were down on their knees in

front of her, throwing their arms in the air, and crying like sahonis [cats].

The evil ones give food and water to my mother, Eli, and to my father, Sogwali.

My father and my mother not eat; not drink. The day after they arrived at

Gigageyi, they had the council.

Whitepath, my father Sogwali brother, was forced to sit with all the evil people

to judge my father and mother.

Major Ridge and James Craves untied my father's and mother's hands. They kept

the ropes around their body and legs to the trees. Then they make them write.

They make my father Sogwali read what my mother write, and my mother Eli, read

what my father write. Just this time, my father and mother write names and

places of evil people in the old country. All that both write was passed out

among the people to see the secret symbols that they not see before. The evil

ones asked my father Sogwali many questions about it, and about the country in

the West. Those evil people decide my father, Sogwali and my mother, Eli were

witches, and evil to want to move our people to the West. They tied their hands

together again around the trees. Then they give a knife to Major Ridge and John

Lowery. Others heated a iron rod in the fire. When they did that, Whitepath

broke away from that place where he was sitting, and ran off in the woods.

Yes, they branded my father Sogwali and my mother Eli while the white preachers

prayed to their God. While the crazy ones jumped and sang their songs. My

father, Sogwali and my mother Eli was branded on the forehead; on their backs.

Major Ridge and John


Lowery held my father's hands against the tree, and cut off his fingers on both

hands up to the joints. They cut off my father Sogwali's ears. All he could do

was say his igawesdi, and blow his breath in their faces.

They did not get to cut poor mother Eli. My grandfather, Tsatsi Ughvi had

followed the Rulers with our trusted people, and the people of Whitepath's

village, and other villages. Whitepath knew my grandfather and the people were

close by; they surrounded Hick's place, and grandfather, Tsatsi Ughvi and

Whitepath say to evil ones to let my father and mother loose. That they would

kill them all if they not let them go. Major Ridge and George Lowery cut my

Father Sogwali's ropes. John Lowery and James Graves cut the ropes loose around

my mother, Eli. Whitepath and my grandfather, Tsatsi Ughvi come on the grounds

with some of their people. My father grabbed at Major Ridge, but got James

Graves. He threw him over to one of the open pots and put his head under the hot

food where it killed him there. My grandfather had two of his wolves with him on

a rope. He turned them loose on the evil people. Then he and some of his men

helped my father, Sogwali and my mother, Eli on horses. Quickly, my father and

mother were taken away from Gigageyi. They ride quickly away in the night. My

grandfather, Tsatsi Ughvi knew that the police would come with their dogs

looking for them in the big mountains.

Now, my father, Sogwali did not get to finish his work helping our people there

in the old country. No, he was caught in a fish trap. My father and mother run,

like some hunted animals to the mountains. They hide in cave like the hunted

bears. There they stay many months, while my grandfather's son help to heal

their wounds. The evil ones hunt them with dogs.

All through the villages in the old country, Whitepath and his men, my

grandfather and his sons go tell our people not to listen to the white people,

preachers, teachers and the Rulers. This work of Whitepath and my grandfather,

Tsatsi Ughvi make the whites and the Rulers angry. The preachers tell them they

would burn in the white man's Hell....

Indeed, Whitepath's war was on, and resistance to the white man's religion,

teachings and new laws enforced upon the pe~ ple of the old nation, and the

previous teaching of many Cher~ kees to write and read their own language was

the "weapon"


used to block the progressive movement carried out by the leaders of the

nation and the whites to change Indian culture and

language. Whitepath used his weapon, the syllabary to the fullest extent. He

and former old warriors painted the symbols on

homes, barns, trees and leaves in red paint made from the mulberry, pokeberry,

and elderberry. Messages were written on

pieces of white cloth, leaves, corn shuck, pressed paper and the

inner bark of the cedar tree. In every village of a conservative

Cherokee, from a pole, the village chief flew a piece of white

cloth with symbols of the syllabary painted in red thereon, containing

messages to the people who fought for their tribal hen-


However, the Cherokee symbols were confusing to the whites and the progressive

leaders who could not decipher them. It was the conservative Cherokee's method

of symbolizing power and victory over the white man's teachings.

In the year 1816, with prestige and pride lost by the advent of the Cherokee

syllabary, the wheels of the missionaries' efforts to teach their religion to

the Indians had been clogged. But it did not prevent them and the teachers from

continuing their IGospel preachings, and their teaching the English language to

the young children they had taken away from parents of the mixed-bloods and

friendlies. Even though forced by the Whitepath War, the missionaries took the

children to the Tellico Blockhouse, where a force of government troops were

stationed in order to teach them.

Not for one moment did Whitepath and the conservatives let the whites, mixed-

bloods and friendlies forget their hideous crime committed upon Sequoyah, Eli

and Uhyalug.

John Ridge signed his death warrant in the year 1817, eighteen years before he

signed the 1835 Removal Treaty with the United States government agents, when he

placed a notice in the Knoxville Gazette January 19,1817:

Ridge's Perry, Cherokee Nation, 19th January 1817. To The Editors Of Newspapers

In Tennessee. Gentlemen:

You will confer a favor on certain citizens of the Cherokee Nation, by giving

publicity of the following description of a Cherokee,


who committed a crime of witchcraft, and murder to one of our citizens on the

22nd November last. This man is called by the white people, Seequoyah. He is

about 6 feet high, upwards of 50 years old; his appearance is rather rough, and

attempts some times to speak English; his face is somewhat slender, and several

weeks ago, he was disfigured by cutting his ears and fingers off by another

Indian. He I believe, has a circle on his forehead, artificially placed by

burning. He has sparse whiskers, most of them bear frost of age. His hair, I

believe is about shoulder length.

These are about the most prominent deformities of his person by which he may be

known. His wife may be with him. She, I believe, is rather small, and has a

circle also on her forehead. I was not much acquainted with him, but know him

when spoken of, represented to be an ungovernable, headstrong, and fierce

animal. He has seen civilization, in its habiliments of ornament, art, taste,

and beauty; but his heart never could derive polish from its force, or his

intellect expound on the varity of its invitations. I have been requested to

make a communication of this to the public. It is wished that if Seequoyah

should appear in Tennessee, or elsewhere, that he should be apprehended and

secured in a prison; and that notice be given of his arrest, so as to enable the

Nation to get him, and sentence him to a fate which justice so imperiously


I am yours,


John Ridge's physical description of Sequoyah is quite correct. Needless to say,

Ridge paid with his life years later for his part in the crime committed upon

Sequoyah, Eli and Uhyalug.

Sequoyah never asked anyone to follow him. The nonconforming people recognized

that what Sequoyah did was for the best, and was for the people. The people saw

and felt the destruction of themselves and their homelands. They could use their

own judgment to go or to stay. Not one Cherokee desired to leave the homes of

their ancestors, but the nonconforming Indians felt the whiplash of the white

sea surrounding them, and the "New Order Laws" enforced by the progressive


They realized too well that in order to survive Indian culture and tribal

lifeways and to live independently, they must abandon their lands in the east

for new lands in the West, even though


the cardinal point West in Cherokeean belief means death and disaster. It was

the only place in this native land of theirs that Iheld out hope of escaping the

civilization program by the Anglo~ American government, and the sovereignty of

the United States.

The new written laws which began in the year 1808, 2 and enforced by the

progressive leaders in the nation, forbade the practice of their culture

customs. No longer could the people practice their ancient religious ceremonies

of "going to the water prayers. No longer could Cherokees attend their various

social and religious dances, feasts, shooting matches, and ball games. And no

longer could they wear their hair long, and dress the way they wished. There

were fines and punishment imposed upon anyone caught for these s~called heathen

offenses against the nation. Quarrels with the missionaries and teachers about

"foolish Indian customs," shamed and stripped nonconforming Cher& kees of their

dignity, self-respect, and low-rated them in the eyes of their young.

Taxes were imposed upon the people. Indians unable to pay their taxes, or fines

for offenses they had committed under the new laws, were sent into bondage to

work off their debts. Whippings and cropping of ears were ideal punishment

enforced to "show power of the progressive leaders. And the most effective

method of all was to take their children and women away, and place them into

bondage with whites, to teach them white civilization and submission.

Not only was Sequoyah endeavoring to help mass removal of his conservative

people to the West, but also Tahlonteesgee, assistant chief of the Western

Cherokee Nation, was aiding the United States Government in its efforts to

remove the south-eastern Cherokees.

In 1808, Tahlonteesgee was one of the chiefs who had signed the treaty with the

United States, relinquishing lands in the southeast nation for lands in the

West, taken from the Osage Tribe in the Arkansas Territory. A portion of the

annuities paid by the United States Government to the entire Cherokee Tribe for

lands ceded was set aside for the Western Cherokees.

2 Vide Liws of the Cherokee Nation, p. 212.


Sequoyah, and several groups of Cherokees living beyond the Red River on lands

of the Comanche Indians, received nothing, and wanted nothing from any Anglo

government. They were their own masters as long as they lived away from white


Lands in the interior of America had hardly been explored by the whites by the

year 1816, except by the fur traders.




THE UNITED STATEs Government's "great experiment" backfired in 1817, when the

Great White Pather sought to acquire the balance of Cherokee lands in the

southeast for his white children. By appointing the principal chief, dividing

the Indians against themselves in order to control them, and sending

missionaries and teachers among the people as "instruments" to civilize and

attach their interest to the small nation, had fouled up the govemment's plans.

At the time, there were many white educated Cherokees who had thrown their

heritage to the winds. They had enjoyed the fruits of Angl~American social and

political power too long to give it up. They knew and understood their rights as

original owners of the lands and their value. They had sacrificed most of their

original country, and had become copies of white people - "white Indians" in

order to live there. Only the color of their skin remained the same. The flower

had bloomed, but its stem remained the same. To the whites, the brown skin of

the Indians was revolting and dirty.

The progressive Cherokees were enjoying the profits of labor from the gold mines

in the nation. Any Cherokee, on whose lands the gold mine was located, was

allowed to keep one-fourth, and three-founhs was paid into the treasury of the

nation. As Cherokee progress speeded up, all gold mines, like the salt mines in

the nation, were confiscated by the principal chief. All that the principal

chief and his ring of assistants had to do was store their gold in caves, or

send it by flatboats down the Mississippi to relatives for "investments," the

adopted status form of the AngloAmerican capitalist.

These progressive leaders sat back in their fine homes, built by government

hired help, and watched brown and black slaves work their gold mines and vast

plantations. When their crops Ifailed, the conservative Cherokees in the

mountain coves and hills practically starved, or were forced to accept the

government's hand-out from the credit trading factory in the nation. These

Cherokees refused to submit to progressive conformity, compete to store up vast

amounts of riches and goods-the motto instilled by the missionaries and

progressive leaders.

The majority of the Cherokees wished to be free and independent. They wished

freedom from the white man, and the civilizing program that had been thrust down

their throats by the United States Government. Their hope of mass removal

depended upon Sequoyah and leaders who lived in the West.

In 1817 there were approximately 22,900 Cherokees living in the old country,

including the bonded slaves of the whites. Of this number, one-half desired to

emigrate to the West. Nearly 3,000 wished to move beyond the boundary of the

United States. While the Indian agent, Return J. Meigs, found this to be true,

the educated leaders and progressive movement had gone too far on the white

man's road to turn back to heathen Indian culture and customs. So the United

States Government still had one more alternative out of its predicament without

resorting to force - to seek the aid of the Western Cherokee Nation's chiefs to

further the removal of their eastern brothers.

Tahlonteesgee, the Western Cherokee Nation's assistant chief, went to Washington

City in 1817 to talk to the Great White Father. He had questions about that part

of the unpaid annuities for ceded lands in the old nation between the years 1802

to 1816, and the United States' promise to run boundary lines on their western

lands to separate them from the white settlers in Arkansas. Again the government

managed another "sweet-talk" bribe to get around him, and another treaty cession

of southeastern lands was made.


With further bribes to Tahlonteesgee and his assistants, the government arranged

emigration of several thousand Cherokees to the Western Cherokee Nation before

the old nation's leaders put a stop to it. Protest of lands ceded in the old

country, and a delegation of the progressive leaders sent to VVashington,

prevented any more conservative Indians from emigrating by government flatboats

to the Western Nation.

Sequoyah removed his people on his own efforts - by walking them overland

through the southern states to Texas, using a few horses for the old persons to


The progressive leaders knew that should mass removal continue, they too would

be forced to emigrate, and this they flatly refused to do, even though the

government offered those wishing to remain in the southeast, a reservation of

640 acres on lands ceded in fee-simple. The Cherokee Nation was a nation, they

argued, the same as the United States - and they were right, but the United

States Government was its shepherd.

Among Sequoyah's documents is a letter written by a white teacher named Charles

Pelham to his sister in 1818. The letter was taken from the mail coach in the

southeast nation, along with other leader's mail, by Whitepath's skillful "old"

warriors, and sent to Sequoyah in the West:

George Guess is his name. He caused it. This Cherokee Indian commenced writing

letters to his countrymen, which they could read. It was soon discovered that

Indians could talk on paper to their friends here in the Nation, and five

hundred miles beyond the Mississippi. I presume you will feel surprised when I

tell you there are ninety-two syllables in the Cherokee language. The alphabet

is thought by some of the educated Cherokees to need improvement, but as it is,

it is read by a very large portion of the people. There is no part of the Nation

where it is not understood. There is no doubt that it will prevail over every

other method of writing. If books were printed in the Cherokee Characters found

upon the person of Guess's aide, there are those in every part of the Nation who

could read them. Probably fifty times as many would read one printed in Guess's

Characters as would read one printed in English.

It would be a vain attempt to persuade them to relinquish their own method of

reading and writing. Tell them now of printing in


the English language, and you throw water on the fire you wish to kindle. To

persuade them to learn another, would be a hopeless task. A crisis caused by

Guess, and some others in the Nation is passing IIby. A few months or years may

decide its fate....

Sequoyah certainly caused a crisis in the southeast nation, and upset the United

States "great experiment" plan of its "instruments" to teach the. Cherokees the

English language and culture. The progressive leaders, teachers, and

missionaries were now hampered by the public use of the syllabary by the

majority of the Cherokees. The whites and progressives were unable to learn and

decipher the native syllabary. One cannot merely read Cherokee, like ancient

Greek, it must be deciphered. There must be a knowledge of pitch and sound of

the syllables, and a key symbol denoting this in the written language, as well

as the key symbol to the six different dialects in the language.

The news of the branding and treatment of Sequoyah, his wife, and the death of

Uhyalug at the hands of the progressive Cherokees, spread like a wind-fanned

prairie fire to the Western Cherokee Nation. Its chief settlement was located in

what is today eastern Oklahoma and extending into the state of Arkansas. Years

later, indirecdy, this savage treatment would be felt in the Cherokee guerrilla

war in the Indian Territory. A tribal law of blood.

The progressive leaders and missionaries in the old nation found themselves in a

tight and embarrassing situation. They had branded the scribe George Guess - the

Skeenah or Saloquoyah, a devil, as the missionaries called anyone who resisted

their teachings and made the "marks." And they had fought to banish the weapon

that he and his people used to block white Christian teachings, and the foreign

English language taught to the children.

Realizing their great mistake, and that one day the American public would be

certain to find out about the Cherokee syllabary, and their crime upon these

three Cherokees, the only recourse left for the leaders and the missionaries was

to do an "about-face," and play up the discovery of the syllabary. They would

pretend to the United States Government and the American public that the

Cherokee Nation was indeed becoming civilized, and had pr-


duced a genius. But they would make certain that the Cherokee Indian who "caused

it" was known to the public as the bastard Cadmus of a white man. He must have

that stain of white blood in order to have the ability to use his brains. They

dared not reveal to the American public that this Indian man was a fuliblood of

the Seven Clan Scribe Society - an ancient society which ex-cluded mixed-bloods'

and traitors.

The traitor, George Guess, they thought, was somewhere in the West. George Guess

was a "marked devil." He would never show his branded face in the old nation

again. And if he did, who would believe him and his "marks" and those words of

his heathen mountain brothers, compared to the polished words of the good

Christian progressive Cherokees, and the missionaries?

But to be on the safe side, they would name a few friendly good ones, George

Guess and Sequoyah. Why not? This common practice of giving an influential

Indian's name to friendlies would produce George Guess, alias Sequoyah anytime

progressive leaders and the missionaries had a need for the Cadmus to serve

their scheme and to further their cause toward white man S progress. Not to be

forgotten was another fuliblood Cherokee by the name of George Gist, living near

Willstown, Alabama. The names of these two Indian men being almost the same, the

American public would never know the difference.

Now, George Gist of the Paint Clan could neither write, nor read in his native

syllabary. The leaders knew that he had emigrated to the Western Cherokee Nation

in May 1817, for his name was on the enrollment list of the nation and the

United States.

The progressive leaders and missionaries had no idea of what the Cherokee

Indian, George Gist looked like, nor did they care. That little detail would be

worked out later. He would serve their purpose of becoming a scapegoat and pawn

for their calculated scheme, whether he wanted to or not, in order for the

progressives to ease out of a bad situation in the eyes of the government and

the American public. But to save face" and not to be outsmarted by a fullblood

Cherokee heathen, they would make sure George Gist, the scapegoat, was also

known to the public as a


mixed-blood - the bastard son of a German peddler. The Cherokees would never

have had a syllabary unless there was a little "refined white" blood flowing

around in Indian bodies.

Beginning in 1821, when the leaders and the missionaries realized they could no

longer prevent the nonconforming Cherokees from using their own method of

writing and reading, and to help prevent mass removal by the government, the

missionaries, backed by the nation's progressive leaders, published Sequoyah's

glorious deed in the Missionary Herald and New York newspapers:

George Guess came to rescue his people from darkness, and lead them into the

light of civilization by the invention of the Chera kee Alphabet - an unlearned

mixed-blood Cherokee Indian....

An honorable way out of a "crisis." Indeed!

The American public was impressed with the publicity handed out by the

missionaries and the leaders. They took immediate heed to the "saintly"

eloquence of Sequoyah. The public had no way of knowing the naked truth outside

the Cherokee Nation in the southeast, and would the public have given a damn one

way or another?

But the United States Government had knowledge of the Cherokee syllabary, and

the Great White Father and his Indian agents just smiled and waited - waited for

a ripe time to use it to remove the Indians from the east.

The missionaries advised the leaders that it would be an ideal gesture to have a

medal made and presented to George Gist - the scapegoat. So the leaders informed

the Secretary of War in Washington that the Cherokee Nation wished the War

Department to have a medal struck to honor their Cadmus, and to be paid for out

of the Cherokee Nation treasury.

Secretary of War, Thomas L. McKenny, thought it was a great idea and an honor.

But he suggested to the leaders that the most impressive medal to honor

Seequahyah or George Gist would be one of President James Monroe's Indian

medals. The Cherokee leaders agreed, for it cost them nothing, and the James

Monroe Presidental Indian medal was promptly sent to Charles B. Hicks, Assistant

Chief, to Principal Chief Pathkiller in the old nation. 1

1 Charles H. Hicks (1767-1827). He was principal chief of the southeastern

Cherokee Nation for thirteen days, after the death of Pathkiller on January 7,


The strange thing about it was that the leaders of the old nation waited eight

years - until 1832, before sending the Great White Father's medal to George

Gist, their scapegoat. 2 They learned then from the Western Cherokee chiefs that

George Guess, the branded traitor, was invited and paid to come and teach their

native syllabary to the people in Chief Digadoya's settlement on the Illinois

River. In the spring of 1831, the Cherokee man who was sent to seek 6ut the

scribe, George Guess for Chief Digadoya, was none other than the scapegoat,

George Gist. The bucket had sprung a leak, a lasting leak which could only be

mended by its elimination.

The following is an excerpt from Chief John Ross's letter to George Gist:

Head of Coosa, Cherokee Nation, January 12, 1832.

Mr. George Gist: My friend, the legislative council of the Cherokee Nation in

the year 1824, voted a medal to be presented to you, as a token of respect &

admiration for your ingenuity in the invention of the Cherokee alphabetical

characters; and in pursuance thereof the late venerable Chiefs, Path Killer &

Charles R. Hicks, instructed a delegation of this nation, composed of Messrs.

George Lowery, Senior, Elijah Hicks & my self to have one struck, which was

completed in 1825. In the anticipation of your visit to this country it was

reserved for the purpose of honoring you with its presentment by the chiefs in

General Council. . . . 3

In 1828, the United States Government decided it was time to clear the lands of

the Cherokees in Arkansas, and move them into Ithe Indian Territory with others

of their tribe on assigned lands.

1827. He was injured when a small boy in the hip, and had a lame leg throughout

his life. Hence, the fitting description concocted for their scapegoat, George

Gist. 2 George Gist, the scapegoat of the conspiracy, was run out of the

Cherokee Nation in 1841 during the Cherokee guerrilla war in the Indian

Territory. He appealed to P. M. Butler for help in order to return to the

Cherokee Nation and his family in November, ~ 844. He died from a bullet wound

before Indian agent Butler could send help to him. Also, see John Howard Payne's

collection in the Gilcrease Museum, the Cherokee syllabary that was written by

George Gist, according to John Howard Payne's notations. 3 "George Gist come to

me, show medal of White King give to him by Chief John Ross. I read Chief Ross

letter to him. . . ." Writings of George Guess, July 24, 1832.


The western chiefs were forced to cede their improved lands in northwestern

Arkansas for lands known today as Eastern Oklahoma in the 1828 treaty with the

United States - the beginning work of the government's Indian Territorial Act of


The government Indian agents asked the western chiefs to sign their names in the

Cherokee syllabary. Since 1791, the government's knowledge of the syllabary

could now be employed to embarrass and demand that the Cherokee Nation's

southeast leaders, who refused and resisted emigration to the West must cede

their nation and join their western tribesmen. The "Cadmus" of their people was

living in the West, why not they?

John Lowery signed Sequoyah's name to the treaty of 1828 with the United States.

This was a common joke among the Western Cherokees in the nineteenth century. No

one had to look at the treaty signature to establish this fact. Signing another

important Indian's name to a white man's piece of paper had been the custom

since the foreigners discovered Indian America. But when an artist in Washington

City thought that it would be a great asset to Indian progress to paint the

Indian George Guess or George Gist, Western Cherokee treaty signers were at a

loss to find a solution to an embarrassing issue. Nevertheless, they solved the

problem by substituting Thomas Maw, the son of Hanging Maw, to take the place of

George Guess and George Gist. The painting that hangs in the Library of Congress

is not that of "nc~eared" George Guess, nor the scapegoat, George Gist, but that

of Thomas Maw.



THE NEW SHOOTS of spring grass were inching from the brown earth along the lower

slopes of the North Carolina mountains in 1817, when Sequoyah, his wife Eli, and

her brother, Ig fled to the West, and to his village on the Brazos River. The

fugitives took the land route through their southern neighbors' country - the

Creeks and Choctaws.

By no means did Sequoyah give up his desire and efforts to help his people in

the southeast to emigrate to the West, but he realized that he could do nothing

for them if caught and killed by the "rulers." He was now a marked man, and he

was wanted in the southeastern Cherokee nation as a traitor and murderer.

He felt that his soul had been killed by his disfigurement, and he was like a

dead man walking. He became more and more revengeful. At all times, he wore his

tribal head-dress, the turban. He continued his writing. Though his hands became

stiff and painful, he managed to grasp a piece of native lead, goose quill, or

white man's store-bought pen between both hands, and in this awkward manner he

scribed writings for those Indians who could not do so. Much later, he learned

to use a gun again with his stub fingers.

Sequoyah's and Eli's baby, a girl, was born in July, 1818. She was named Gedi

(Katy). Another child was born, a boy, in September 1820, but he lived only two


In the late summer of 1820, Sequoyah's eldest son, Tvsisdi, Iwith a scout

Tsegwadihi, went to the southeast nation. With the help of Creek neighbors, some

of whom were intermarried into


the Cherokee Tribe, they were able to remove seventy-eight families during the

fall and spring of 1820-21. This process of removing small groups to the West

continued until 1825, when Sequoyah's son, Tvsisdi, and his brother, Whitepath,

were shot and killed by the Cherokee police.

After these two were murdered, the hope and spirit of the nonconforming

Cherokees were shattered. Without the leadership of Whitepath, on whose judgment

and strength the conservatives depended for help, they had to give up their

desire to remove beyond the limits of the United States.

On a windy day in late January, 1822, Richard Fields, John Bowl7 and Gatunweli

came to the village of Tsesi Tsola and Sequoyah. The settlements of these three

Cherokee chiefs were cated on the Trinity, Neches, and Sabine Rivers -

Springfrog's old community. They came to obtain the services of Sequoyah as

letter writer and interpreter.

When Springfrog had emigrated to the West in 1789, he and his warriors had been

given a land grant from the Spanish Gov-ernment for their service as allies in

the Spanish war with the French. Western Indian tribes, hostile toward the

whites were forced by Spanish officials to give up certain lands of theirs for

Springfrog's settlement. Springfrog had traveled to Mexico City, accompanied by

Spanish aides and the militia of Louisiana's governor, Don Esteban Miro, and had

been given title and map to the lands between the Trinity, Neches, and Sabine

Rivers. This land grant had been dated in Mexico City in the year 1792.

Springfrog was then subject to Spanish rule.

In 1819, Richard Fields, John Bowl and other Cherokees emigrated from the

Western Cherokee Nation to Springfrog's settlement. After the Mexican

Revolution, Cherokees who had Spanish land grants, wished to have them confirmed

by the new government. Sequoyah's settlement was not included in Springfrog's

land grant. The letter that Sequoyah wrote for Fields was brought about by the

changed conditions which had freed Mexico from Spain. The following is a copy of

the letter written in English; the usual copy retained by Sequoyah, dictated by

Fields, who could speak fair English, but could not write it:


feburey the fust Day 1822

Apacation mad to the subsprem Governer of the Provunce of Spain.

Diear Sir I wish to omblay ask you what must be Dun with us pur Indians.] we

have som Grants that was give to us when we live under the Spanish government

and we wish you to send us nuws by the Next mal whather tha wil be Reberbd or

Not.] and if wer commited we wil corn as 'soon as posbie to persent ourselves

befor you in a maner agreeable to our talants.] if we do pesant ourselves in a

Rou maner we wish you to Rite us.] our intenson ar good to wards the government.

you sas a chaf of the Charkee Nation.


After Richard Fields received a reply to his letter in July, l822, he asked

Sequoyah to go with him, and twenty other Cherokees from Springfrog's

settlement, to see the governor of the province of Texas. Sequoyah went as

interpreter for the group of his Itribesmen, since he spoke and wrote Spanish

and the English languages. An agreement was interacted between Governor

Trespalacios, and Richard Fields as follows:

Articles of Agreement made and entered into between Captain Richard of the

Cherokee Nation, and the Governor of the Province of Texas.

Article 1st. That the said chief Richard with five others of his tribe,

accompanied by Mr. Antonio Mexia and Antonio Walk who act as Interpreters, may

proceed to the court of the Empire, to treat with his Imperial Majesty, relative

to the settlement which said chief wishes to make for those of his tribe who are

already in the Iterritory of Texas, and for those who are still in the United


Article 2nd. That the other Indians in the city, and those who do not accompany

the beforementioned, will return to their village in the vicinity of

Nacogdoches, and communicate to those who are at the said village, the terms of

this agreement.

Article 3rd. That a party of the warriors of said village must be constandy kept

on the road leading from this province to the United States, to prevent stolen

animals from being carried thither, and to apprehend, and punish those evil

disposed foreigners who


form alliance, and abound on the banks of the river Sabine within the Territory

of Texas.

Article 4th. That the Indians who return to their village, will appoint as their

chief the Indian Captain called Kunetland, alias Tong Turqui, to whom a copy of

this agreement will be given, for the benefit of those of his tribe, and in

order tbat they may fulfill its stipulations.

Article 5th. That meanwhile, and until approval of the Supreme -Government is

obtained, they may cultivate their lands, and sow their crops, in free and

peaceful possession. Article 6th. That the said Cherokee Indians, will become

immediately subject to the laws of the Empire, as well as all others who may

tread her soil, and they will also take up arms in defense of the nation if

called upon to do so.

Article 7th. That they shall be considered Hispanismo-Americans, nd entitled to

all the rights and privileges granted to such, and to the same protection should

it become necessary.

Article 8th. That they can immediately commence trade with the other inhabitants

of the Province, and with the tribes of Indians who may not be friendly to us.

This Agreement comprising the eight preceding articles, has been executed in the

presence of twenty-two Cherokee Indians of the Baron de Bastrop, who has been

pleased to act as Interpreter, two members of the Ayuntamiento, and two officers

of this Garrison. Bexar, 8th November 1822.


Jose Felix Trespalacios

Jose Flores

Naborr Villarreal

Richard (X) Fields

El Baron De Bastrop

ManuelL Iturri Castillo

Fracode flu Castenda. 1

Since the Spanish Agreement enforced their laws upon the Cherokees, Sequoyah

refused to go with Richard Fields to Mexico City. Some Cherokees, like other

Indian tribes, accepted de-

1 I translated this from a copy of the original

Mexican Agreement which was given to the Indian called Kunetland, alias Tong

Turqui. A great, great nephew owns the original copy of the 1822 Agreement.


feat and submission to white man's laws and culture. Others did not.

The five Cherokees who accompanied Richard Fields to Mexico City on November 10,

1822, were John Bowl, Jose' Nicolet, John Rock, Diver Glass and Joseph Bags.

They traveled by horseback and wagons, stopping along the route at Indian

villages to replenish their food 'supplies, and arrived at Saltillo on December

14, 1822. At Saltillo, the Indians were lodged at the garrison and were

entertained for eight days by feasting, dancing, horse racing, and bull

fighting. Resuming their journey to Mexico City, they arrived on January 22,


A colonization law was approved by Seflorita Junta Instituyente and Emperor

Austin de Iturbide on January 4, 1823. But a revolution against Emperor Iturbide

caused this law to become void.

The six Cherokees waited in Mexico City, at the garrison where they were housed,

and on April 17, 1823, Richard Fields and his five assistants, petitioned the

Executive Council direct.

The supreme executive power of the Mexican Nation was, at that time, placed with

three men called the Executive Council, after the revolution in which Emperor

Iturbide was ousted. Members of this council were Nicolas Bravo, Guadalupe

Victoria, and Pedro Celestino Negrete. Nicolas Bravo verified the Agreement

granted by Territorial Governor Trespalacios to Richard Fields. Fields and his

assistants, after achieving their pursuit for permanent lands, returned to


The flood of white American settlers to Texas began in 1824, after the Mexican

general colonization law. The troubles of the Cherokees and those of other

tribes who lived adjoining them began with the new arrival of the whites. The

same thing that had occurred in the southeastern Cherokee country was happening

all over again. These white settlers were poor people. Ragged and wild, they

lived by stealing, and trading stolen goods. Indian farm lands, herds of horses,

hogs and cattle were too much for these poor Anglo settlers to swallow.

Therefore, they stole, burned and plundered the Cherokees, as well as the other

Indian tribes in Texas. There was no other recourse for the Indians, but to


fight back at this white robbery and burning, by, in turn, attacking and burning

white settlements.

In 1825, there came to the settlement of Richard Fields' and John Bowl, a white

man by the name of John Hunter. This man, as well as S. F. Austin, who had

settled a white colony in Texas, had in mind the making of Texas into an

independent AngloAmerican Republic within the year. To establish this purpose,

Austin spread rumors to the Mexican authorities of dissatisfaction among the

Cherokees, and other associate tribes. He prophesied that there was going to be

an Indian war in Texas against the whites. At the same time, he encouraged white

settlers to plunder and burn Indian settlements.

John Hunter went to Mexico City on behalf of Richard Fields to ascertain the

validity of the Cherokee land grants-pretending to be the friend of the Indians.

He found that Field's agreement for lands had become void. He then schemed with

Austin, and another white man named Edwards, to gain the confidence of the

Cherokees and associate Indian tribes to unite and fight the Mexican government.

It was then that Sequoyah and Tsesi Tsola broke tribal ties with Richard Fields.

The Treaty of Alliance which Richard Fields and John D. Hunter secretly signed

as representatives of the twenty-three tribes, including the Comanches and

Kickapoos, stirred the hatred among various chiefs of those tribes, including

the Cherokees. When Fields and Hunter had the gall to come to the village of

Tsesi Tsola and Sequoyah in an effort to obtain warriors to fight in the white

colonists' army against the Mexican government, they met with failure. The

following speech by Sequoyah, given on behalf of the sick Chiefs Tsesi Tsola and

Ganon and the people of their settlement, to Richard Fields and John Hunter was

recorded by Sequoyah's son, Doi:

2 Richard Fields, of the Texas Cherokees, is not to he confused with the Richard

Fields in the Southeastern Cherokee Nation who led a peace delegation for Chief

John Ross to the Florida Seminoles in 1836, to persuade the chiefs to surrender

to the United States armed forces. Many Cherokee men were named Richard Fields.


... In times past, in the lands 0£ our old ones, our warriors fight. I fight.

Our lands are taken. Our people die. In times past, I look over these lands our

peo~e come to set our fire down on. I found plenty to give our people. But 0£

late, it is not so. No! I find these lands empty. Our corn is often stolen. Our

houses burned. Cattle and horses gone. Buffalo there on the plains are driven

away. And what is the cause of this? Why was it not so in former times when more

Indians live on these lands than are now? The reason I find is this: It is none

other than the white man, and the chfldren of him that proceeded from the belly

of that white man's Indian wife which child is the half-breed. That white man

having gained strength in times past by help of Indians, and his half-breed

child grown to manhood has become master of these lands, and kaves our people

with the wolves and dogs to take what leavings we find. I am led to think that

my Old One, Him Above There, put it in my heart no more to aflow ste~ng and

pillaging these lands from me and my people. I have no bad feelings, and wish

not to use my strength, and the strength of our young men to fight the Mexicans.

I have no quarrel with them.

We now look at these lands and what our Old Ones said to us. Keep my children,

the lands for your own selves, and let not the white man take them. Let them

stay among their own. I wish to be my own master and do as I please with what is

my own... I now say this: I hold back and will not use my strength against the

Mexicans. I now close by saying this - I wish it to be as our old fathers tell

us; for the half-breeds to stay with the white man, and take care of the black

coats, and we will take care of our own selves. For me, I give not my hands to

the pigs. Let me see them where I will. Now, I Tsatsi Tvsis, just spoke.

The speech delivered by Sequoyah to Fields and Hunter roused their anger. They

retaliated by t~ing Sequoyah and Chief Tsesi Tsola to leave the Brazos River

area. Sequoyah and Chief Tsola refused to leave their improved settlement.

Sequoyah was not concerned with Mexican control of Texas lands, for he thought

that no white person had the right to put on a piece of paper their foreign laws

to control Indian lands and lives. The lands were Western Indian lands, and it

was from the Comanches that he and Chief Tsesi Tsola obtained permission to

establish their settlement on the Brazos.


When Sequoyah and Chief Tsesi Tsola refused to move, and took a firm stand

against the power which Fields and Hunter had thought to enforce upon the

Indians, Fields and Hunter and other Cherokees from Springfrog's settlement,

along with white rogues, drove off their horses, hogs, and cattle, destroyed

their planted fields, and burned the corn stored in the corncribs. Determined to

hold on to their settlement on the Brazos, Chief Tsesi Tsola and Sequoyah asked

their friends, the Comanches, for help. But even with the help of the Comanches,

the summer of 1825 was one of constant friction and fighting. Their final

efforts to stand. firm and hold their homes and lands along the Brazos, came to

a climax in the fall. Fields and Hunter's agitators succeeded in burning many of

their homes, and in this Indian battle, Chief Tsesi Tsola was wounded, as were

seventeen more Brazos Cherokees. Two small children were killed, including a

grandson of Sequoyah's.

In order to live free and independent, and not to be driven by the power of

Richard Fields and John Hunter, Chief Tsesi Tsola, Canon and Sequoyah selected

lands in the central part of Texas on the Colorado River, which adjoined lands

of a Comanche vil-lage - more than two hundred miles from their old settlement

on the Brazos.

The Indians who had emigrated to Texas during the latter part of the eighteenth

and early nineteenth centuries, did not go along with the Western Indian

confederacy which Fields and Hunter intended to enforce upon them. Fach western

tribe had its own laws and customs, which were radically different from each

other and the emigrated tribes from east of the Mississippi. And the idea of a

white man heading any Indian confederacy was most revolting to them.

The white uprising in Texas, backed by a few Cherokees which Fields and Hunter

were able to "pay" for their warrior service, was put to an end when Richard

Fields and John Hunter were killed by orders from Chief John Bowl in January,


For their efforts in helping to stop the white American settlers, Chief John

Bowl and Gatunweli were given a commission in the Mexican Army, and additional

lands for "the regular" settlement


of the Cherokee Tribe - those yet to be emigrated from the United States. The

new grants of land were those of Chief Tsesi Tsola, Ganon and Sequoyah's

settlement on the Colorado River, known today as San Saba County, Texas. This

action by the Mexican government on behalf of Chief Bowl was unknown to Chief

Tsesi Tsola and Sequoyah until 1834.




NOTHING COULD HAVE stopped Eli from returning to the old nation in the early

summer of 1828, when she received a message from her mother, sent by Going Wolf,

who had managed to flee to Texas.

Eli's mother said that the nation's police had found their village gold mine.

The police had tried to make her father, Tsatsi Ughvi tell them where he had

hidden the gold the villagers had mined. When he refused, they had tied him to a

tree and had beat him to death. All the people had been whipped in the village,

one hundred lashes on the bare back, and were dispossessed of all possessions.

The families had moved four ridges farther into the Big Mountains. She wished

her daughter Eli, and her son Ig to come and help her and their clansmen.

Eli, her ten year old daughter Gedi, and Ig rode horseback across Texas and

Arkansas to the Mississippi River. Sequoyah and a younger son, Tsuhli, traveled

with his wife, daughter, and brother-in-law as far as to the Mississippi.

At a trading post on the River, Sequoyah bought Eli a pistol, and a folding hand

knife. He gave his ten-year-old daughter Gedi, a tan leather diary and native

lead with which to write. With their trading accomplished, the following June

night, Eli, Gedi and Ig left Sequoyah and Tsuhli• They stood, in the moonlight,

on the banks of the Mississippi River. Gedi describes their departure in one of

her small twfrhundred-page diaries:

Too many times I hear my father say to go to old country was to die. I not ask

him to go with us. I just wished. He marked man. My father Sogwali tell me to

help my mother and my grandmother. To write in my book what I see... We turned

our horses away from the river that June night. I look back to where my father

and brother Tsuhli was standing, the sky became bright like sun. I hear loud

roaring above like strQng wind. I look up. I see coming down out of sky, a round

ball of red fire. We stop the horses. Got off. Look. We say igawesdi... I had a

strange feeling that something would happen to us. My father, Sogwali and my

brother Tsuhli, and to us, going to the old country... Then the ball of red fire

was gone; the noise stopped. We get on our horses, ride on....

It took three weeks to reach the mountains in North Carolina by horseback,

traveling over the Indian paths through Mississippi and Alabama, avoiding the

public traveled roads through their southern neighbor's country with whom they

sought refuge. Rivers, often rain-swollen, were crossed at night, swimming their

horses at the well-known and safe points on the river crossings. These

precautions were taken because Indian travelers returning to the southeastern

nation were often shot by the whites for the "fun of it." And the southeastern

Cherokee Nation's police treated returning Cherokees from the West with a dim

view. To them, they were traitors to the homeland. During the daytime, the

Indian travelers rested with clansmen, or in well-known caves; caves in which

they took their horses with them, cutting a little cane for the horses to feed

on during the time inside.

When they finally arrived at the home of Eli's mother and relatives, what met

their eyes was poverty. There was no prosperous valley with rich farming lands,

log homes and cribs full of Icorn. No cattle and horse herds were grazing on the

mountain side. No clear flowing river. A spring furnished water to the

dispossessed settlement, and it flowed from the roots of a beech tree a mile

from the home of Eli's mother. Only Eli's mother's house had been built, while

other relatives lived in nearby caves.

In a short period of twelve years, Eli's relatives had been reduced to

destitution. This situation not only happened to one conservative Cherokee

settlement, but throughout the whole nation.


Progressive Cherokee "power" rule was the order of the principal chief - the

order of the Angl~American government, and greed. Village chiefs were stripped

0£ their local leadership, and their villages were broken up. Heads of families

were ordered by the appointed principal chief and his chosen assistants, to

settle on plots of land away from their clansmen. Tribal life had been


To further enforce submission of the conservative Cherokees to the New Order

Government of the nation, the leaders imposed the fine of whipping, and bondage

to the whites, for anyone caught "doing" sotalled Indian heathen customs.

Taxation was imposed upon the people, and the nation was policed with the "Light

Horse Guard," and dogs, to avert disturbances and emigration. A sample of

Cherokee white man's laws are given:

Resolved by the National Committee, and Council, that any person or persons,

whatsoever, who shall choose to emigrate to the Arkansas Country, and shall sell

the improvements he or they may be in possession of, to any person or persons

whatsoever, he or they, so disposing of their improvements shall forfeit and pay

unto the Chero-kee Nation the sum of $150.00 dollars; and be it further

Resolved, that any person or persons whatsoever who shall purchase any

improvements from any person or persons emigrating, he or they so offending,

shall also forfeit, and pay a fine of $150.00 dollars to the Nation, to be

collected by the marshal of the district.

By order of the National Committee.



President, National Committee

ALEXANDER McCoy, clerk

Approved: October 27, 4821.


The whipping which the Cherokee police gave Eli's mother, Negi (Maggie) had

caused her to become a cripple. She could walk only with the aid of two walking

sticks. Eli, and her daughter Gedi, and Ig, had lived at her mother's home for

almost a year before clan relatives of James Graves


found out that the wife of Sequoyah had returned and was living in the nation.

Tribal law demanded that her life be given for that of James Graves, whom

Sequoyah had killed thirteen years previously, when he and his wife were

convicted in the s&called witchcraft trial, and for aiding his people to remove

to the West. A law of blood for blood.

But first, clan relatives had to capture Eli. They waited and watched for this

chance. Then one day, in the spring of 1829, a converted Cherokee preacher, who

made the rounds as "circuit rider," preaching the white man's gospel to the

mountain Cherokees, discovered ten-year-old Gedi at the spring, and kidnapped

her. John Huss, the Cherokee preacher, took Gedi down into Georgia to the school

of the white preacher and teacher, Isaac Proctor. 1

The kidnapping of her daughter brought Eli and her brothers out of the mountains

to negotiate with the Rev. John Huss, who lived in Tennessee - Chattooga

District of the nation. She was seized, and put in jail. Eli was again tried,

found guilty and sentenced. She was hanged in the Reverend John Huss's district

of the nation, in the early summer of 1829. Eli's daughter, Gedi remained in

Preacher Proctor's school, until Georgia state laws broke up his mission in

1831. It was then that Gedi's uncles resIcued her from Proctor by paying him

twelve buckskin pouches of gold.

When the whites in Georgia discovered the Cherokee gold mines, and the laws of

the state of Georgia were enforced over the Cherokee Nation, John Ross's power

held off mass removal of the people for nine years. The Cherokee people were

sacrificed to wholesale murder, slavery, imprisonment and starvation by the

whites. John Ross's greed for gold and political power is asserted in the

following article which he wrote for the Cherokee Phoenix, dated June 6,1832:

The gigantic silver pipe which George Washington placed in the hands of the

Cherokees, as a memorial of his warm and abiding friendship, has ceased to

reciprocate; the vivid curling smoke riseth 1 Isaac Proctor, assistant

missionary of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions.


not to the mountain's top; it lies in a corner of the executive Chamber, cold,

like its author, to rise no more. With these disasters r& curred to but in part,

I think are adequate to prove the instability of the American Government, so far

as it has duties to perform towards the Cherokees. What then must be done? Our

New York friends advise us to go, but where? West of the Mississippi? The time

being propitious to drive a bargain, the value might otherwise be lost. The

value of the Cherokee Nation can hardly be set down in figures. It is worth more

than one hundred million of dollars. Let us estimate. From Frogtown near the

source of the Chestatee, commences the gold region, and is termed the limits of

Georgia. From this point almost one hundred miles on a straight line south, or

towards the western comer of Carroll county, is one continued bed of gold, one

pit after another, with intermediate strips of land, and where also gold is

found. The width of this region is not yet known, but at the southern part it is

something like thirty miles broad. Millions of dollars worth of gold have been

taken here by thousands of intruders. There are also mines on the Tennessee and

North Carolina side of the Nation where hundreds of Cherokees are engaged

unmolested in mining operations. There is gold enough in the limits of Georgia

alone to corrupt a world of Governor Lumpkins, Gilmers, and Troups. If all the

slaves in bondage under the freemen of the Southern States, were sold in Brazil

for diamonds, and sold among all the crowned heads of the east, the proceeds of

these gems would be but pittance, towards the payment of the Cherokee mines not

including millions of acres that ought to be worth as much as any lands in the

United States.


While Chief John Ross was striving to pit his political strength against that of

the governor of Georgia to prevent sale of the nation to the United States

Government, and removal of the people to the West, Sequoyah's daughter remained

trapped in the old country with the confused and silent majority of the

Cherokees, who retreated into the mountains, trying to escape destruction.

Meanwhile at the settlement on the Colorado River, Sequoyah knew about the death

of his wife Eli, and his daughter's kidnaw ping. He saw the whole happening

through a vision. He was a man torn to bits. His magic charms, which all

conservative fullblood Cherokees believe and practice, helped him mentally. But

physically, his crippled hands - his disfigurement - prevented


the fighting action which he had done in the past. This was the awful truth that

there was nothing, absolutely nothing, that he could do about it, but to wait.

It is said that he drank heavily for the first time in his life.

During the years after the white uprising in Texas, the Texas Indians were

caught in the middle of two fires. On one side they had the invading

Angl~Amen.can settlers with which to contend. These invaders took and scraped

from the Indians everything they saw and wanted. On the other side of the fence,

Mexican military officials tried to overthrow the central Mexican Government,

and set up a dictatorship in the state of Texas. One white man's government was

the same as another - each one was thinking of power and greed over the weak.

And the Indians were being pushed into a corner. There was no other place to

run, to escape the whites and the destruction they inflicted upon Indians. There

were also the various tribes of northern and southern Indians who were being

herded across the Mississippi River to the West. Since there were many Plains or

Western tribes, without the additional new tribes, Plains Indian fighting became

a game - an Indian game of life to prevent their hunting lands from being taken

over by the newcomers. Sequoyah remained neutral, and took no active part in the

Plains and emigrant Indian wars. He was a friend, letter writer and associate of

many Plains Tribes, and had adopted some of their customs. Many members of his

settlement had married Plains Indians, and their lands like the Cherokees, were

being encroached upon.

In June 1831, George Gist, his sons Tsatsi and Tsesi, and Will Tsola, came to

Chief Tsesi Tsola's settlement on the Colorado looking for the scribe, George

Guess. Chief Nuya Digadoya, son of the old Chief Digadoya, sent George Gist to

ask the scribe George Guess to come to their settlement in the Western Cherokee

Nation, and teach the people to write and read their native syllabary. George

Gist, said that the black coats 2 had followed

2 The conservative Cherokees referred to the missionaries as digasalena gvhnage,

meaning "black coat" in their language because white preachers wore long black



them, were quarrelling with their people, trying to persuade those m Chief

Digadoya's setdement to allow the missionaries to preach their gospel and teach

the children the English language.

From July 1831, until the middle of October, Sequoyah taught the syllabary to

the people in Chief Digadoya's settlement, which was scattered over an area of

more than twenty-five miles. George Gist, who was about the same age as Sequoyah

(65), became one of his adept pupils, as well as many of the older men and


Again in the summer of 1832, Sequoyah returned to Chief Nuya Digadoya's

settlement to see how well the people were learning the syllabary, and to obtain

news from the southeastern Cherokee Nation. It was on this visit to the Western

Cherokee Nation that George Gist showed the Indian medal and letter sent him by

Charles H. Vann from Chief John Ross, and warned him of an assassination plot by

clansmen of James Graves and selected Cherokee police from the southeastern


Sequoyah and his son Doi, and others from Chief Nuya Digadoya's settlement set

up an ambush for the would-be assassins in the woods near Chief Nuya Digadoya's

house, where the assassins were told that Sequoyah and his son were teaching.

One night the group of more than twelve men rode up shooting, and then threw

lighted torches on Chief Nuya Digadoya's house and set it afire. Sequoyah and

the men of Chief Nuya Digadoya's settlement fired upon the assassins from the

woods, killing five, and wounding one. Others rode away quickly, only to be shot

and killed from the trail.

When the war in Texas began in 1836 between the Americans and Mexicans, Chief

Tsesi Tsola was forced, under pressure of Mexican officials, to send sixty-four

warriors from their settlement to fight in the Mexican Army. The old Cherokee

men did spy work doser to their settlements. Other Indians and tribes fled to

the Rocky Mountains to avoid the white man's war. But to prevent alliance of

Chief John Bowl's settlement with the Mexicans, as well as other tribes living

in his area between the Trinity, Neches, Sabine, and Red Rivers in Texas, the

United States Government sent troops into that area. But it was too late. Many



warriors and warriors from other tribes were already in the service of the

Mexican Army.

When Chief John Bowl, and his aides, signed a treaty of alliance with Sam

Houston and John Forbes in November 1835, this Indian treaty and afliance was

understood by Chief BoW to be valid for his settlement only. No others. But the

treaty controlled sequoyah's settlement, causing the Cherokees and the Comanches

to destroy their villages in 1836, and necessitated their retreating farther

into the mountains of Mexico.

In February 1839, Dagwadihi, with three others from the Western Cherokee Nation,

came to the Cherokee village in the Mexican mountains (Mexico in 1839 was part

of New Mexico today), looking for Sequoyah, whom he was told would be found

living there. He told sequoyah about his group, who were emigrating to the West,

and who had broke away from the appointec Cherokee leader. He revealed that the

group of less than onc hunidred, were camped on the west side of the Mississippi

River They were sick, starving and dying, and needed help -clothing, and horses

to transport the sick and old ones to the new country. Sequoyah's daughter, Gedi

was among them.

Sequoyah took twenty-three horses, packing these with pounded parched corn meal,

shelled corn, dried buffalo, honey, blankets, buffalo robes and other clothing.

With these, he and eight Cherokee and intermarried Comanches, set out eastward

with their loaded horses toward the Mississippi River.

Six weeks later, after crossing the Indian territory and part of southwestern

Missouri, they found the little group of ninety-three men, women and children,

camped under an over-hang a high bluff of the Mississippi River.

Their dead were buried in the ice and snow drifts, covered over with logs and

tree limbs. The people had no shovels; no tools to dig the graves.

Gedi was now a thin young women of twenty. She had married Wagigu the previous

spring of 1838. Her husband had been shot and killed while resisting a force of

whites to pay a "toll fee" on the Walderns Ridge Toll Road in Tennessee.


Sequoyah was overjoyed at seeing his daughter for the first time in eleven

years. He burned with anger and revenge when he learned of the treatment of his

daughter, and the others, in the white man's stockade in the old nation. For the

moment though, his concern was to feed the hungry, help the sick, and to get the

group of emigrants safely to their village in Mexico.

Gedi gives a description of their journey from the Mississippi to the West:

We started at daylight on the fifth day after my father, Sogwali come to help

us. I rode behind my father on his horse. All the other horses were used for the

old and sick ones, two and three to a horse. Young sick children rode in front

of the old ones. Our people stay close together. We had a long way to go. There

were white people's places that we pass. They send their dogs on us. The white

frogs laugh and call us names....

At a white trader's place, my father send my brothers, Doi and Tsuhli to buy

food and more clothes for our poor people. I went with them to the white man's

place. My brother, Tsuhli carried three gold nuggets, and three gold Mexican

money. He say to the white man that he wanted to buy food, coats, shoes and

blankets For our people walking to the West. The white man say, 'CYou got money,

Indian?" My brother say he did, and show him a Mexican gold piece. The white man

say he not take Mexican money. Then my brother Tsuhli show him a gold nugget,

size of my thumb. The old white man say, 'CYou got more of them Indian?" My

brother mumbled. He know that white man just as soon kill and rob us there. The

old white man got sacks and put corn meal he grind in it. In another sack, he

put two hams. That little food he charged my brother one gold nugget. My brother

say to old white. man that he have one more gold nugget. The white man say that

would buy three coats, eight pair of shoes, and three blankets. My brothers and

me know that the white man cheat us. We need the food and clothes for our people

waiting for us near that place. My brother give him the gold nugget. We take all

men shoes. Our women wear men shoes, same as the men... Our little children feet

we wrap in clothes.

We put the sacks of food and clothes on the horses, and ride back to our people

waiting for us. While we are eating, there ride up some white men, five in all.

They say to us, "Get on your way redskins!" My father say to them that we go as

soon as our people eat. White


men say, "Get going now, redskins!" My father tell our people to take their food

in their hands and start walking. It was of no use to use strength against the

whites there on their lands. Our people start walking and the white men shoot

their guns at us, hitting my mother's brother's wife in the back. She die.

Quickly, white men ride away....

Sequoyah and his group of emigrants took the well known Indian path through

southwestern Missouri and the central part of the then, Indian Territory, today

the state of Oklahoma. Small game supplemented their food supply. Corn was

obtained on two occasions at an Osage settlement.

When they reached the village of Comanche Chief Gihliunega, near the Red River,

in early May 1839, they rested with their friends to regain strength and health.

While the emigrants rested, Sequoyah, his two sons, and Eli's brother, Ig, rode

to Chief Nuya Digadoya's settlement on the Illinois River in the Western

Cherokee Nation to visit clansmen who still desired to remove beyond the limits

of the United States to their new settlement in Mexico. He wanted also to look

for the "rulers" who had caused his wife's death, his disfigurement, and death

of his clansmen - the Indian law of blood.

Camped along the Illinois River, in donated government tents, those Cherokees of

Situwakee's group had many reasons for their pent-up hatred of Iron Rule

leadership. Situwakee was a clansman of Sequoyah's wife Eli, and her brother Ig.

He boiled with anger when he related to Sequoyah and Ig the conditions forced

upon his people during the "march" West. As head teamster, he had seen and

experienced as much sorrow as Gedi's group. Reaching the Ohio River in late

December, ice and snow had frozen it over. The ferry was unable to transport the

people across the river, and the ice was not thick enough for the teams and the

people to walk across. But the Rev. Evan Jones, a Baptist preacher in charge of

the Indian group thought so. Jones disregarded Situwakee's warning that the ice

was thin and would break. So on the white man's Christmas Day 1838, preacher

Jones, by gospel harassment, lined up three teams and wagons loaded with old

people, sick and small children, cooking utensils, and a little bedding to cross

the ice-


covered Ohio River. Situwakee warned the converted Baptist teamsters not to risk

the ice. Jones said, "My prayers to God will see them across. The first wagon

almost reached the other side to safety when the ice gave away, plunging all

three wagons into the icy waters, where all were drowned. Situwakee had seen the

hor-ror, and had heard the screams. He had dived into the icy waters, Itrying to

rescue his people, but it had been to no avail - the peopie were gone to the

bottom of the river.

Fights immediately broke out among the freezing and starving converted Baptist

Cherokees and the non£onverted. Many were wounded, and six Cherokees were

killed. Preacher Evan Jones cried and prayed to his God.

Although Sequoyah planned revenge on those who had branded him and caused the

death and misery to thousands of his tribesmen, the Cherokee civil war began

before his arrival into the Western Cherokee Nation, and had spread like a

windstorm. The part Sequoyah played in the Indian civil war is gleaned from the

pen of his daughter Gedi:

Now, I say this to you, my grandchildren; my father Sogwali and brothers Tsuhli

and Doi worked and fought in that war our people fight over there in Indian

lands. Our people that want to be their own masters, my father, my brothers

help. They fight them! Yes!

Now, John Bowls (son or old chief John Bowl) and Joseph Bags come to our place

on river where we are staying. They say to my father and Chief Cihliunega that

they need warriors to help them fight. The white people take their horses and

cattle, tell Indians leave their places. Move across the lied River to Indian

lands they say to Chief John Bowls. John Bowls tell my father that a man he

wanted had come to live in their village. If he want him, come and get him. He

was one of the evil ones. My father Sogwali, Chief Gihliunega, his men, they

talk. They vote to go help Chief John Bowls and our people. Many warriors get

ready to go. My father, brothers Tsuhli and Doi, and my dead husband's brother,

Diver. Many women go with the men to help. The old women make bags of food for

all persons to tie on to their saddle.

At daylight next morning, men and women ride toward Chief Bowls' place. John

Bowls and Joseph Bags lead the way. That ght we camp in a canyon. Guards were

'jut around the camp. Next


morning before daylight, we eat, saddle our hobbled horses, and start again to

Chief Bowls' place.

We ride that day crossing little creeks. Then we come to a big river that we

have to swim our horses across. John Bowls, Joseph Bags, my brothers Tsuhli and

Doi, Driver and my father lead the way across. We women were behind them. Scouts

were in front, on the sides and behind the women. Just as my father Sogwali got

across the river, many soldiers come running their horses up, shooting at us.

Our people that were crossing the river turned our horses down stream, and ride

back across the river. My horse was shot by the soldiers, and fell in the water.

I jump off as the horse goes down, and swim hard to the side where we come into

the river. Woti's brother come to me, lift me on his horse. Quickly, we run away

from the river. The men tell the women to take our horses into thicket with some

of theirs where we would be protected. This we do. Down the river, we hear

shooting. Soldiers come back to where we cross the river. Our men not shoot at

them until some of the soldiers come across the river. Then our men shoot

soldiers. Our men on horses, waiting behind our scouts, ride to fight the

soldiers, killing the ones that come across the river. Three of our men are

killed. The soldiers across the river run off. We wait a long time. Then our men

tell the women to come out. Some of our men ride across the river looking for my

father Sogwali, my brothers, Driver, John Bowls, Joseph Bags, and the other

scouts. We wait a long time, then they come. I see my brother Doi leading my

father's horse, and my father Sogwali across the horse like a sack of corn. I

know my father is dead. My brother Doi was bleeding. Joseph Bags is dead. Others

of our people, six in all. Dead. My brother Tsuhli and Driver alright. My heart

pained when I see my father Sogwali dead... Quickly, we ride away from the


The Cherokee Indian, known by the names of Sequoyah and George Guess, was shot

and killed by soldiers in Texas, on the Brazos River, on June 9, 1839. His

daughter Gedi, and other relatives returned with his body to the Comanche

village, where he was prepared for burial. Wrapped in buffalo robes, Sequoyah

was buried beyond the Comanche village in Texas.


Bibliographical Note


A LONG TIME ago, the begetting of this book had begun. The flame was lit when I

was eight. On a rare occasion in school one day, the teacher asked me to tell

the story of Sequoyah. She knew nothing of my blood relationship to my ancestor.

I did, but not as she knew it. I was paddled on the tongue with her ruler until

it bled for telling "such a fantastic story."

The "source" of what I have written comes from more than six hundred documents

written by George Guess himself on thick ruled ledger books, small leather-bound

note books, scraps of paper, edges of early eighteenth and nineteenth century

newspapers, white buckskin, corn shuck paper, and mulberry and cedar bark. It

comes from the mass of writings by his children, grandchildren, and great

grandchildren. It comes from the old war chiefs, village chiefs, and old

warriors whose words were carefully preserved along with the cultural records of

the tribe. Added to this volume of writings are important documents of the

government's chosen Cherokee leaders, from the period 1795 to 1845 - Charles

Hicks, Isaac McCoy, John Ross, John Ridge, Elias Boudinot, George Lowery, John

Lowery and others-along with pertinent documents of non-Indians which bear

directly On our hidden historical facts. Their words are there in box upon box,

yellowing with age, and a little mouldy from being buried in caves.

I have recreated my ancestor in his own image through words and thoughts of a

foreign language - not from the books in libraries, nor government records. In

so doing, I have sought the truth as it exists in the hearts and minds of some

13,000 fullblood kinsmen living in the hills of Eastern Oklahoma, the Smoky

Mountains of North Carolina and those of Mexico who sull speak, read and write

our native language, and who have managed to keep our culture, values and sane

life-ways. Whether this is your truth, I don't know, nor does it matter - it is

mine, and that of the minority faction of my people, whose ancestors refused to


The life of my ancestor, George Guess, lives on today the same as it did 131

years ago, outside the books that have been written about him by the non-Indian

and the "good Cherokee" who lost his identity in an alien white world of muddled

thoughts of what George Guess ought to be. He over-shadows that stereotppe in

which writers have placed him.

Although history is a fact of life, historians of Cherokee history had the power

to condemn that fact to death, or, cleverly Iwritten, to conceal facts.

Considering that every aspect of Indian lives have been run by the government

since 1776, there is a vast amount of government documents on the Cherokees.

From this material I confirmed my ancestor's documentation of the particular

points brought out in the "Conspiracy" chapter.


American State Papers, Documents, legislative and executive, of the Congress of

the United States. Class II, Indian Affairs, Vols. I-ILIV. Military Affairs,

Vols. VI-VII. VVashington, D.C. 1832-60.

Indian Tribal Records, Documents and Laws. Cherokee Agency. Letters Received by

the Office of Indian Af-fairs, The National Archives of the United States,

Wahington, D.C.

Cherokee Agency, West. Letters Received by the Office of In-dian Affairs, The

National Archives of the United States, Washington, D.C.

The United States War Department, Record Files, Washington, D.C.


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