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Echota Cherokee Tribe



1800 to 1900


The 1800s marks a time of great Cherokee triumph and pain. 

During the early 1800s Sequoia began his work developing the Cherokee Syllabary.  Sequoia finished creating the syllabary in 1821 and it was fully accepted into the tribe in 1824.  Once accepted most Cherokees were able to read and write within 3 days.  In 1824 the syllabary was used to create the first written laws and four years later in 1828 the Cherokee Phoenix was established and created its first publication in Cherokee and English.  In 1825 New Echota became the Cherokee capitol and in 1828 John Ross was elected as principle chief. 

At the same time the US was creating new policies concerning Native Americans.  In 1824 the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) is established by Calhoun and placed under the War Department.  Its primary purpose was to control Indians and their land within US boundaries.  The same year Andrew Jackson is elected as president.  Between 1828 and 1830 Georgia legislature 'abolishes' tribal government and declares their authority over the Cherokees.  In 1832 the Supreme Court rules in the case Worchester vs. Georgia that tribes are sovereign nations and Georgia doesn't have authority over them.  The Supreme Court, however, has no power to enforce the decision and Jackson refuses to enforce it, allowing Georgia to have a lottery for Cherokee lands. 

In 1835 the Treaty of New Echota is signed by Major Ridge and the Treaty Party, giving up the remaining Cherokee land in the southeast in exchange for land in Indian Territory (Oklahoma).  This treaty did not express the views of most of the Cherokee Nation, including John Ross.

In the winter of 1838 the US began a force removal of the Cherokees and several other tribes to Indian territory.  This removal involved the stripping of all possessions, being corralled up, then forced to walk 1,000 miles to Oklahoma on a route now known as the Trail of Tears.  Thousands were killed by disease and exposure to the cold.

Many Cherokees escaped the removal by hiding in the Smokey and Cumberland Mountains.  Others carefully returned to areas near their original homeland.  In order to protect themselves they lied about their heretage, claiming to be Black Dutch or similar to explain the darker skin.  Most kept as covered as possible, even during the summer, to avoid becoming any more dark skinned then they were.  Many of these people are the ancestors of the Echota Cherokee. 

Ten years after the trail of tears the BIA moves from the Department of War to the Department of Interior.  Its purpose switches to forcing assimilation into US mainstream culture and abandoning traditional culture.  Boarding schools began to be developed during the late 1800s and continuing into the mid 1900s using the philosophy, stated by Captain Richard Pratt, of "Kill the Indian, save the man".  Children were taken from their families and their tribes, many against their will.  At the school they were forbidden to speak their language, practice their culture, and forced to do hard manual labor over long hours as part of their 'schooling'.  Hundreds of children died from strenuous work and mistreatment. 


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Before 1800         1800 to 1900         1900 to present      

Echota Cherokee Tribe of Alabama history        Deer Clan West history     

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