History of The Cherokee Language

History of The Cherokee Language.

The Cherokee is the most southern branch of the Iroquoian language family. Linguists believe that the Cherokee migrated from the Great Lakes area to the Southeast over three thousand years ago.

In 1540 the Cherokee lay claim to a territory comprising of 40,000 square miles in the southeastern part of what later became the United States. This area included parts of the states of Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, Kentucky and Tennessee.

In the winter of 1838, the Cherokee Nation was forcibly removed from what was left of their original lands in the East. 20,000 people were forced along the “The Trail of Tears” to the Indian Territory of northeastern Oklahoma. Over 4,000 Cherokees died. The journey was know by the Cherokee as nu-na-hi du-na tlo-hi-lu-i, the “trail where they cried.”

Several hundred Cherokee evaded removal by hiding in the mountains of North Carolina. In 1849 they were given the right to remain on lands purchased in their behalf. It later became the Qualla Reservation.

At the time of the first contact with Europeans, the Cherokee occupied three distinct geographical regions. Three distinct dialects were spoken: Eastern, Middle and Western.

The Eastern or lower dialect is now extinct. Its chief peculiarity is a rolling “r”, which takes the place of the “l” of the other dialects. The Cherokee speakers of the Eastern dialect occupied what is now South Carolina and made the first contact with the British. Due to the wars and conflicts of the 1800’s, the few remaining speakers were absorbed into the other Cherokee groups further inland.

The Middle dialect (Kituwah) is spoken by the Cherokee now living on the Qualla reservation in North Carolina. In some of its phonetic forms it agrees with the Eastern dialect, but resembles the Western in having the “l” sound.

The Western dialect (The Overhill) is spoken by the Cherokee Nation in the West. Because of their isolation, the Kituwah dialect was less impacted by the influence of other Indian cultures and the many conflicts the Western Cherokee encountered. The Overhill dialect is the softest and most musical of this musical language.

The name, “Cherokee,” occurs in fifty different spellings. In this form it dates back at least to 1708. From the Eastern dialect came the form tsa-ra-gi, the form with which the English settlers first became familiar (a rolling “r” took the place of the “l” of the other dialects). Thus came the word “Cherokee.” The Spaniards, advancing from the south, became familiar with the other form (Middle and Western: tsa-la-gi) and spelled the word as Chalaque. Today Cherokees both East and West refer to themselves in that form: tsi-tsa-la-gi (I am Cherokee).

The proper name by which the Cherokee call themselves is: yun-wi-ya. It comes from yun-wi (person) and ya (real or principal). When referring to the tribe, the prefix ani is added: ani-yun-wi-ya.

Cherokees are the only Native American People who possess a writing system equivalent to the European alphabet. The Cherokee syllabary is the only alphabet in history attributed to be the work of one man, George Gist, known to the world as Sequoyah. Although he did not speak or read the English language, he understood the power of the written word. After twelve years of dedicated work, Sequoyah finished the Cherokee syllabary in 1821. He spent the rest of his life teaching his people how to read and spell.

The Cherokee alphabet is a syllabary of 84 characters in which each letter in a word stands for a whole syllable.

There are six vowels: a-e-i-o-u including a vowel which does not exist in English (v). The (v) vowel is decidedly tonal and is pronounced like the “u” in “huh”, nasalized.

The remaining seventy eight characters consist of combining consonants and vowels with one exception, the consonant “s”. It stands alone as the only single consonant represented as a character. Adding “s” to other syllables as a prefix or suffix eliminated the need to create seventeen more characters to the syllabary. There are no equivalent sounds for the English consonants BFPRVX. (Overhill uses the “j” sound when pronouncing the “ts” syllables; Kituwah uses the softer “z” sound.)

Across the United States, the native peoples are involved in preserving their aboriginal languages. Unfortunately some of these languages have all ready been lost. In Qualla and the Cherokee Nation, dedicated Cherokee linguists are working diligently to ensure the Cherokee language survives.

Increasing numbers of Cherokee descendants are renewing their ties with their traditions, history and language. With this renewal comes the understanding that their Cherokee heritage must be preserved and passed on to the next generation.

Demanding the Cherokee Nation : Indian Autonomy and American Culture, 1830-1900

Here is an excerpt from Andrew Denson’s 2004 book on the Cherokee Nation.  I also want to find John Finger’s couple of books on the Eastern Band of Cherokees.  But for now, this is what was available online.  Denson’s main analysis focuses on the concept of Cherokee nationhood in terms of sovereignty, identity and also legal autonomy and the various stances which the American government has taken vis-a-vis the Cherokee Nation.

The passage I’m quoting below describes a period of relative cultural flourishing and political stability for the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Nation in the wake of the Indian Removal some sixteen years previous.  In particular, the effects of this stability on the Cherokee education system are brought forward:

The period immediately preceding the Civil War is sometimes remembered as the Cherokees’ “golden age.”  When the factional violence ended in 1846, the Cherokees at last had th opportunity to rebuild the nation and reestablish the institutions they had begun in the East.  By most standards, their efforts were successful.  Relative normalcy returned to Cherokee politics, with the factions remaining content to fight most of their battles within the tribe’s constitutional system.  John Ross was still principal chief, and his supporters continued to dominate the tribal government; however, members of the Treaty Party, along with Old Settlers, won election to political office and exerted a measure of influence over the nation’s affairs.  Economically, the Cherokees enjoyed a decade of prosperity.  The bi-cultural elite rebuilt their plantations and businesses, while according to missionaries and federal agents the more numerous class of subsistence farmers maintained at least a decent standard of living.  Most impressive, the Cherokee government used its treaty funds to create a public education system equal to or better than those of neighboring states.  More than one hundred primary schools were operating by the early 1850s, along with the Cherokee Male and Female Seminaries– high schools founded with the intent of training better Cherokee teachers.  All this occurred within the context of comparatively settled relations between the Cherokee Nation and the United States.  There was talk in the 1850s of extending American territorial law over the Indian country, but for the most part the federal government refrained from mounting assaults on the tribal autonomy such as the Cherokees had faced in the removal era.


I want to take a step back here and address what I mean by “Cherokee Education.”  It is all too clear that the U.S. government, State governments as well as religious missionary organizations like the Moravian Church have been responsible for a certain kind of “Cherokee Education.”  This is education in the most deeply colonial sense of education for civilization– teaching Cherokee people how to behave like good European and eventually join American society.  (Also, note I am using the term “colonial” here to designate not merely the 13 British Colonies which revolted against England in 1776, but in the broader sense of an external power and resource grab, squashing the autonomy of indigenous peoples.)

But there are some other senses of the phrase “Cherokee Education, which I am interested in as well.  Denson addresses these different types of education in the following passage:

Equally important was the other kind of education that Adair mentioned in his address.  As I have discussed in previous chapters, tribal leaders in this period were continually trying to teach white Americans about the Indian Territory. Delegates to Washington, for example, often described their work as an ongoing effort to enlighten American authorities about their peoples’ rights and desires, “to educate them into our interests,” as Adair had written in 1870.  They clung to the hope that if Americans could be made to understand the Territory, they might end their assaults on tribal autonomy and land.  The fair at Muskogee offered tribal leaders a further opportunity for this kind of teaching, particularly when visitors from “the states” included politicians and Indian Bureau officers.


So, in addition to the typical colonialist education of Cherokees by European-American settlers, Cherokee people sought to teach the Europeans about themselves and their Territory, and also ran their own schools as we saw during the 1840s “golden age,” described in the first quoted passage above.

What of this dynamic complex of Cherokee education still exists today.  How do Cherokee people teach themselves, how are they taught by settlers, and how do they teach us European-American settlers?  My guess is that the Cherokee Central Schools are not simply examples of one of the above modes of education.  Even on my cursory view of the school district website, I notice that NC curriculum standards have been adopted by the schools.  But there also appear to be plenty of sites and instances of Cherokee people continuing to educate settler-learners such as myself– museums, as well as activism such as the group of young people who ride bikes along the path of the Trail of Tears every year.  And naturally, the autonomy of the Cherokee Central Schools is something that should be taken with some pride.  But I still want to get to the bottom of how autonomous these schools are with respect to curriculum and governance by the Sate of North Carolina.

Treaty of Washington | The Cherokee One Feather

Treaty of Washington | The Cherokee One Feather.

Articles of a convention made between John C. Calhoun, Secretary of War, being specially authorized therefor by the President of the United States, and the undersigned Chiefs and Head Men of the Cherokee nation of Indians, duly authorized and empowered by said nation, at the City of Washington, on the twenty-seventh day of February, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and nineteen. /A/


WHEREAS a greater part of the Cherokee nation have expressed an earnest desire to remain on this side of the Mississippi, and being desirous, in order to commence those measures which they deem necessary to the civilization and preservation of their nation, that the treaty between the United States and them, signed the eighth of July, eighteen hundred and seventeen, might, without further delay, or the trouble or expense of taking the census, as stipulated in the said treaty, be finally adjusted, have offered to cede to the United States a tract of country at least as extensive as that which they probably are entitled to under its provisions, the contracting parties have agreed to and concluded the following articles. /B/


ART. 1. The Cherokee nation cedes to the United States all of their lands lying north and east of the following line, viz: Beginning on the Tennessee river, at the point where the Cherokee boundary with Madison county, in the Alabama territory, joins the same; thence, along the main channel of said river, to the mouth of the Highwassee; thence, along its main channel, to the first hill which closes in on said river, about two miles above Highwassee Old Town; thence, along the ridge which divides the waters of the Highwassee and Little Tellico, to the Tennessee river, at Tallassee; thence, along the main channel, to the junction of the Cowee and Nanteyalee; thence, along the ridge in the fork of said river, to the top of the Blue Ridge; thence, along the Blue Ridge to the Unicoy Turnpike Road; thence, by a straight line, to the nearest main source of the Chestatee; thence, along its main channel, to the Chatahouchee; and thence to the Creek boundary; it being understood that all the islands in the Chestatee, and the parts of the Tennessee and Highwassee, (with the exception of Jolly’s Island, in the Tennessee, near the mouth of the Highwassee,) which constitute a portion of the present boundary, belong to the Cherokee nation; and it is also understood, that the reservations contained in the second article of the treaty of Tellico, signed the twenty-fifth October, eighteen hundred and five, and a tract equal to twelve miles square, to be located by commencing at the point formed by the intersection of the /C/ boundary line of Madison county, already mentioned, and the north bank of the Tennessee river; thence, along the said line, and up the said river twelve miles, are ceded to the United States, in trust for the Cherokee nation as a school fund; to be sold by the United States, and the proceeds vested as is hereafter provided in the fourth article of this treaty; and, also, that the rights vested in the Unicoy Turnpike Company, by the Cherokee nation, according to certified copies of the instruments securing the rights, and herewith annexed, are not to be affected by this treaty; and it is further understood and agreed by the said parties, that the lands hereby ceded by the Cherokee nation, are in full satisfaction of all claims which the United States have on them, on account of the cession to a part of their nation who have or may hereafter emigrate to the Arkansaw; and this treaty is a final adjustment of that of the eighth of July, eighteen hundred and seventeen. /D/


ART. 2. The United States agree to pay, according to the stipulations contained in the treaty of the eighth of July, eighteen hundred and seventeen, for all improvements on land lying within the country ceded by the Cherokees, which add real value to the land, and do agree to allow a reservation of six hundred and forty acres to each head of any Indian family residing within the ceded territory, those enrolled for the Arkansaw excepted, who choose to become citizens of the United States, in the manner stipulated in said treaty. /E/


ART. 3. It is also understood and agreed by the contracting parties, that a reservation, in fee simple, of six hundred and forty acres square, with the exception of Major Walker’s, which is to be located as is hereafter provided, to include their improvements, and which are to be as near the centre thereof as possible, shall be made to each of the persons whose names are inscribed on the certified list annexed to this treaty, all of whom are believed to be persons of industry, and capable of managing their property with discretion, and have, with few exceptions, made considerable improvements on the tracts reserved. The reservations are made on the condition, that those for whom they are intended shall notify, in writing, to the agent for the Cherokee nation, within six months after the ratification of this treaty, that it is their intention to continue to reside permanently on the land reserved. /F/ /G/


The reservation for Lewis Ross, so to be laid off as to include his house, and out-buildings, and ferry adjoining the Cherokee agency, reserving to the United States all the public property there, and the continuance of the said agency where it now is, during the pleasure of the government; and Major Walker’s, so as to include his dwelling house and ferry: for Major Walker an additional reservation is made of six hundred and forty acres square, to include his grist and saw mill; the land is poor, and principally valuable for its timber. In addition to the above reservations, the following are made, in fee simple; the persons for whom they are intended not residing on the same: To Cabbin Smith, six hundred and forty acres, to be laid off in equal parts, on both sides of his ferry on Tellico, commonly called Blair’s ferry; to John Ross, six hundred and forty acres, to be laid off so as to include the Big Island in Tennessee river, being the first below Tellico – – which tracts of land were given many years since, by the Cherokee nation, to them; to Mrs. Eliza Ross, step daughter of Major Walker, six hundred and forty acres square, to be located on the river below and adjoining Major Walker’s; to Margaret Morgan, six hundred and forty acres square, to be located on the west of, and adjoining, James Riley’s reservation; to George Harlin, six hundred and forty acres square, to be located west of, and adjoining, the reservation of Margaret Morgan; to James Lowry, six hundred and forty acres square, to be located at Crow Mocker’s old place, at the foot of Cumberland mountain; to Susannah Lowry, six hundred and forty acres, /H/ /I/ to be located at the Toll Bridge on Battle Creek; to Nicholas Byers, six hundred and forty acres, including the Toqua Island, to be located on the north bank of the Tennessee, opposite to said Island.


ART. 4. The United States stipulate that the reservations, and the tract reserved for a school fund, in the first article of this treaty, shall be surveyed and sold in the same manner, and on the same terms, with the public lands of the United States, and the proceeds vested, under the direction of the President of the United States, in the stock of the United States, or such other stock as he may deem most advantageous to the Cherokee nation. The interest or dividend on said stock, shall be applied, under his direction, in the manner which he shall judge best calculated to diffuse the benefits of education among the Cherokee nation on this side of the Mississippi. /J/ /K/


ART. 5. It is agreed that such boundary lines as may be necessary to designate the lands ceded by the first article of this treaty, may be run by a commissioner or commissioners to be appointed by the President of the United States, who shall be accompanied by such commissioners as the Cherokees may appoint, due notice thereof to be given to the nation; and that the leases which have been made under the treaty of the eighth of July, eighteen hundred and seventeen, of land lying within the portion of country reserved to the Cherokees, to be void; and that all white people who have intruded, or may hereafter intrude, on the lands reserved for the Cherokees, shall be removed by the United States, and proceeded against according to the provisions of the act passed thirtieth March, eighteen hundred and two, entitled “An act to regulate trade and intercourse with the Indian tribes, and to preserve peace on the frontiers.” /L/ /M/ /N/


ART. 6. The contracting parties agree that the annuity to the Cherokee nation shall be paid, two-thirds to the Cherokees east of the Mississippi, and one-third to the Cherokees west of that river, as it is estimated that those who have emigrated, and who have enrolled for emigration, constitute one-third of the whole nation; but if the Cherokees west of the Mississippi object to this distribution, of which due notice shall be given them, before the expiration of one year after the ratification of this treaty, then the census, solely for distributing the annuity, shall be taken at such times, and in such manner, as the President of the United States may designate. /O/


ART. 7. The United States, in order to afford the Cherokees who reside on the lands ceded by this treaty, time to cultivate their crop next summer, and for those who do not choose to take reservations, to remove, bind themselves to prevent the intrusion of their citizens on the ceded land before the first of January next. /P/


ART. 8. This treaty to be binding on the contracting parties so soon as it is ratified by the President of the United States, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate. /Q/


Done at the place, and on the day and year, above written.


J.C. Calhoun.
Ch. Hicks, (L.S.)
Jno. Ross, (L.S.)
Lewis Ross, (L.S.)
John Martin, (L.S.)
James Brown, (L.S.)
Geo. Lowry, (L.S.)
Gideon Morgan, jr. (L.S.)
Cabbin Smith, his x mark, (L.S.)
Sleeping Rabbit, his x mark, (L.S.)
Small Wood, his x mark, (L.S.)
John Walker, his x mark, (L.S.)
Currohee Dick, his x mark, (L.S.)
Return J. Meigs,
C. Vandeventer,
Elias Earle,
John Lowry.
List of persons referred to in the 3d article of the annexed Treaty.
Richard Walker, within the chartered limits of North Carolina.
Yonah, alias Big Bear, do.
John Martin, do. Georgia.
Peter Linch, do. do.
Daniel Davis, do. do.
George Parris, do. do.


Walter S. Adair, do. do.
Thos. Wilson, do. Alab. Ter.
Richard Riley, do. do.
James Riley, do. do.
Edward Gunter, do. do.
Robert McLemore, do. Tenn.
John Baldridge, do. do.
Lewis Ross, do. do.
Fox Taylor, do. do.
Rd Timberlake, do. do.
David Fields, (to include his mill,) do. do.
James Brown, (to include his field by the long pond,) do. do.
William Brown, do. do.
John Brown, do. Tennessee.
Elizabeth Lowry, do. do.
George Lowry, do. do.
John Benge, do. do.
Mrs. Eliz. Peck, do. do.
John Walker, Sr. do. do.
John Walker, Jr. (unmarried,) do. do.
Richard Taylor, do. do.
John McIntosh, do. do.
James Starr, do. do.
Samuel Parks, do. do.
The Old Bark, (of Chota) do. do.
No. of reservees within the limits of
North Carolina, 2
Georgia, 5
Alabama Terr. 4
Tennessee, 20
Total No. of reservees, 31


I hereby certify, that I am, either personally, or by information on which I can rely, acquainted with the persons before named, all of whom I believe to be persons of industry, and capable of managing their property with discretion; and who have, with few exceptions, long resided on the tracts reserved, and made considerable improvements thereon.


Agent in the Cherokee nation.
(COPY.) Cherokee Agency, Highwassee Garrison.


We, the undersigned Chiefs and Councillors of the Cherokees in full council assembled, do hereby give, grant, and make over unto Nicholas Byers and David Russell, who are agents in behalf of the states of Tennessee and Georgia, full power and authority to establish a Turnpike Company, to be composed of them, the said Nicholas and David, Arthur Henly, John Lowry, Atto. and one other person, by them to be hereafter named, in behalf of the state of Georgia; and the above named persons are authorized to nominate five proper and fit persons, natives of the Cherokees, who, together with the white men aforesaid, are to constitute the company; which said company, when thus established, are hereby fully authorized by us, to lay out and open a road from the most suitable point on the Tennessee River, to be directed the nearest and best way to the highest point of navigation on the Tugolo River; which said road, when opened and established, shall continue and remain a free and public highway, unmolested by us, to the interest and benefit of the said company, and their successors, for the full term of twenty years, yet to come, after the same may be open and complete; after which time, said road, with all its advantages, shall be surrendered up, and reverted in, the said Cherokee nation. And the said company shall have leave, and are hereby authorized, to erect their public stands, or houses of entertainment, on said road, that is to say: one at each end, and one in the middle, or as nearly so as a good situation will permit: with leave also to cultivate one hundred acres of land at each end of the road, and fifty acres at the middle stand, with a privilege of a sufficiency of timber for the use and consumption of said stands. And the said Turnpike Company do hereby agree to pay the sum of one hundred and sixty dollars yearly to the Cherokee nation, for the aforesaid privilege, to commence after said road is opened and in complete operation. The said company are to have the benefit of one ferry on Tennessee river, and such other ferry or ferries as are necessary on said road; and, likewise, said company shall have the exclusive privilege of trading on said road during the aforesaid term of time. /R/


In testimony of our full consent to all and singular the above named privileges and advantages, we have hereunto set our hands and affixed our seals, this eighth day of March, eighteen hundred and thirteen.


Outahelce, his x mark, (L.S.)
Naire, above, his x mark, (L.S.)
Theelagathahee, his x mark, (L.S.)
The Raven, his x mark, (L.S.)
Two Killers, his x mark, (L.S.)
Teeistiskee, his x mark, (L.S.)
John Boggs, his – – mark, (L.S.)
Quotiquaskee, his – – mark, (L.S.)
Currihee, Dick, his – – mark, (L.S.)
Ooseekee, his – – mark, (L.S.)
Toochalee, (L.S.)
Chulio, (L.S.)
Dick Justice, (L.S.)
Wausaway, (L.S.)
Big Cabbin, (L.S.)
The Bark, (L.S.)
Nettle Carrier, (L.S.)
Seekeekee, (L.S.)
John Walker, (L.S.)
Dick Brown, (L.S.)
Charles Hick, (L.S.)
Witnesses present:
Wm. L. Lovely, assistant agent,
William Smith,
George Colville.
James Carey,
Richard Taylor,


The foregoing agreement and grant was amicably negotiated and concluded in my presence.


Return J. Meigs.
I certify I believe the within to be a correct copy of the original.
Charles Hicks.


WASHINGTON CITY, March 1, 1819.


CHEROKEE AGENCY, January 6, 1817.


We, the undersigned Chiefs of the Cherokee nation, do hereby grant unto Nicholas Byers, Arthur H. Henly, and David Russell, proprietors of the Unicoy road to Georgia, the liberty of cultivating all the ground contained in the bend on the north side of Tennessee river, opposite and below Chota Old Town, together with the liberty to erect a grist mill on Four Mile creek, for the use and benefit of said road, and the Cherokees in the neighbourhood thereof; for them, the said Byers, Henly, and Russell, to have and to hold the above privileges during the term of lease of the Unicoy road, also obtained from the Cherokees, and sanctioned by the President of the United States. /S/


In witness whereof, we hereunto affix our hands and seals, in presence of – –


John McIntosh, (L.S.)
Charles Hicks, (L.S.)
Path Killer, (L.S.)
Tuchalar, (L.S.)
The Gloss, (L.S.)
John Walker, (L.S.)
Path Killer, jr. (L.S.)
Going Snake. (L.S.)
Return J. Meigs, United States agent.


The above instrument was executed in open Cherokee council, in my office, in January, 1817.


Return J. Meigs.


CHEROKEE AGENCY, 8th July, 1817.


The use of the Unicoy road, so called, was for twenty years.


Return J. Meigs.


I certify I believe the within to be a correct copy of the original.

Ch. Hicks.
WASHINGTON CITY, March 1, 1819. A/ Proclamation, Mar. 10, 1819. B/ Preamble. C/ Cession of lands by the Cherokees. D/ The lands hereby ceded are in full satisfaction, etc. E/ United States to pay for improvements on ceded lands. F/ Grant of land to each person on the list annexed to this treaty, except Major Walker. G/ Notice to be given of intention to continue residence. H/ Reservations. I/ Additional reservations. J/ The reservations, etc., to be sold, and proceeds vested in stock. K/ Interest, how to be applied. L/ Boundary lines to be run by commissioners. M/ White intruders to be removed. N/ 1802, ch. 13. O/ Division of annuity to Cherokee Nation. P/ Intrusion of citizens to be prevented. Q/ Treaty binding when ratified. R/ Mar. 8, 1813. S/ Jan. 6, 1817

Talking Leaves: The Treaty of Hopewell | The Cherokee One Feather

Treaty of Hopewell | The Cherokee One Feather.


On November 28, 1785, the Treaty of Hopewell was signed between the U.S. representative Benjamin Hawkins and the Cherokee Indians. The treaty laid out a western boundary for white settlement. The treaty gave rise to the sardonic Cherokee phrase of Talking Leaves, since they claimed that when the treaties no longer suited the Americans, they would blow away like talking leaves. A description of the boundary is found on Article 4 of the accord.

Signatures of the Cherokee delegation there were several from leaders of the Chickamauga/Lower Cherokee, including two from Chickamauga itself and one from Lookout Mountain Town

Articles concluded at Hopewell, on the Keowee, between Benjamin Hawkins, Andrew Pickens, Joseph Martin, and Lachlan M’Intosh, Commissioners Plenipotentiary of the United States of America, of the one Part, and the Head-Men and Warriors of all the Cherokees of the other.

The Commissioners Plenipotentiary of the United States, in Congress assembled, give peace to all the Cherokees, and receive them into the favor and protection of the United States of America, on the following conditions:


The Head-Men and Warriors of all the Cherokees shall restore all the prisoners, citizens of the United States, or subjects of their allies, to their entire liberty: They shall also restore all the Negroes, and all other property taken during the late war from the citizens, to such person, and at such time and place, as the Commissioners shall appoint.


The Commissioners of the United States in Congress assembled, shall restore all the prisoners taken from the Indians, during the late war, to the Head-Men and Warriors of the Cherokees, as early as is practicable.


The said Indians for themselves and their respective tribes and towns do acknowledge all the Cherokees to be under the protection of the United States of America, and of no other sovereign whosoever.


The boundary allotted to the Cherokees for their hunting grounds, between the said Indians and the citizens of the United States, within the limits of the United States of America, is, and shall be the following, viz. Beginning at the mouth of Duck river, on the Tennessee; thence running north-east to the ridge dividing the waters running into Cumberland from those running into the Tennessee; thence eastwardly along the said ridge to a north-east line to be run, which shall strike the river Cumberland forty miles above Nashville; thence along the said line to the river; thence up the said river to the ford where the Kentucky road crosses the river; thence to Campbell’s line, near Cumberland gap; thence to the mouth of Claud’s creek on Holstein; thence to the Chimney-top mountain; thence to Camp-creek, near the mouth of Big Limestone, on Nolichuckey; thence a southerly course six miles to a mountain; thence south to the North-Carolina line; thence to the South-Carolina Indian boundary, and along the same south-west over the top of the Oconee mountain till it shall strike Tugaloo river; thence a direct line to the top of the Currohee mountain; thence to the head of the south fork of Oconee river.


If any citizen of the United States, or other person not being an Indian, shall attempt to settle on any of the lands westward or southward of the said boundary which are hereby allotted to the Indians for their hunting grounds, or having already settled and will not remove from the same within six months after the ratification of this treaty, such person shall forfeit the protection of the United States, and the Indians may punish him or not as they please: Provided nevertheless, That this article shall not extend to the people settled between the fork of French Broad and Holstein rivers, whose particular situation shall be transmitted to the United States in Congress assembled for their decision thereon, which the Indians agree to abide by.


If any Indian or Indians, or person residing among them, or who shall take refuge in their nation, shall commit a robbery, or murder, or other capital crime, on any citizen of the United States, or person under their protection, the nation, or the tribe to which such offender or offenders may belong, shall be bound to deliver him or them up to be punished according to the ordinances of the United States; Provided, that the punishment shall not be greater than if the robbery or murder, or other capital crime had been committed by a citizen on a citizen.


If any citizen of the United States, or person under their protection, shall commit a robbery or murder, or other capital crime, on any Indian, such offender or offenders shall be punished in the same manner as if the murder or robbery, or other capital crime, had been committed on a citizen of the United States; and the punishment shall be in presence of some of the Cherokees, if any shall attend at the time and place, and that they may have an opportunity so to do, due notice of the time of such intended punishment shall be sent to some one of the tribes.


It is understood that the punishment of the innocent under the idea of retaliation, is unjust, and shall not be practiced on either side, except where there is a manifest violation of this treaty; and then it shall be preceded first by a demand of justice, and if refused, then by a declaration of hostilities.


For the benefit and comfort of the Indians, and for the prevention of injuries or oppressions on the part of the citizens or Indians, the United States in Congress assembled shall have the sole and exclusive right of regulating the trade with the Indians, and managing all their affairs in such manner as they think proper.


Until the pleasure of Congress be known, respecting the ninth article, all traders, citizens of the United States, shall have liberty to go to any of the tribes or towns of the Cherokees to trade with them, and they shall be protected in their persons and property, and kindly treated.


The said Indians shall give notice to the citizens of the United States, of any designs which they may know or suspect to be formed in any neighboring tribe, or by any person whosoever, against the peace, trade or interest of the United States.


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.


The hatchet shall be forever buried, and the peace given by the United States, and friendship re-established between the said states on the one part, and all the Cherokees on the other, shall be universal; and the contracting parties shall use their utmost endeavors to maintain the peace given as aforesaid, and friendship re-established.

In witness of all and every thing herein determined, between the United States of America and all the Cherokees, we, their underwritten Commissioners, by virtue of our full powers, have signed this definitive treaty, and have caused our seals to be hereunto affixed. Done at Hopewell, on the Keowee, this twenty-eighth of November, in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and eighty-five.

Benjamin Hawkins, [L. S.]

And’w Pickens, [L. S.]

Jos. Martin, [L. S.]

Lach’n McIntosh Koatohee, or Corn Tassel of Toquo, his x mark, [L. S.]

Scholauetta, or Hanging Man of Chota, his x mark, [L. S.]

Tuskegatahu, or Long Fellow of Chistohoe, his x mark, [L. S.]

Ooskwha, or Abraham of Chilkowa, his x mark, [L. S.]

Kolakusta, or Prince of Noth, his x mark, [L. S.]

Newota, or the Gritzs of Chicamaga, his x mark, [L. S.]

Konatota, or the Rising Fawn of Highwassay, his x mark, [L. S.]

Tuckasee, or Young Terrapin of Allajoy, his x mark, [L. S.]

Toostaka, or the Waker of Oostanawa, his x mark, [L. S.]

Untoola, or Gun Rod of Seteco, his x mark, [L. S.]

Unsuokanail, Buffalo White Calf New Cussee, his x mark, [L. S.]

Kostayeak, or Sharp Fellow Wataga, his x mark, [L. S.]

Chonosta, of Cowe, his x mark, [L. S.]

Chescoonwho, Bird in Close of Tomotlug, his x mark, [L. S.]

Tuckasee, or Terrapin of Hightowa, his x mark, [L. S.]

Chesetoa, or the Rabbit of Tlacoa, his x mark, [L. S.]

Chesecotetona, or Yellow Bird of the Pine Log, his x mark, [L. S.]

Sketaloska, Second Man of Tillico, his x mark, [L. S.]

Chokasatahe, Chickasaw Killer Tasonta, his x mark, [L. S.]

Onanoota, of Koosoate, his x mark, [L. S.]

Ookoseta, or Sower Mush of Kooloque, his x mark, [L. S.]

Umatooetha, the Water Hunter Choikamawga, his x mark, [L. S.]

Wyuka, of Lookout Mountain, his x mark, [L. S.]

Tulco, or Tom of Chatuga, his x mark, [L. S.]

Will, of Akoha, his x mark, [L. S.]

Necatee, of Sawta, his x mark, [L. S.]

Amokontakona, Kutcloa, his x mark, [L. S.]

Kowetatahee, in Frog Town, his x mark, [L. S.]

Keukuck, Talcoa, his x mark, [L. S.]

Tulatiska, of Chaway, his x mark, [L. S.]

Wooaluka, the Waylayer, Chota, his x mark, [L. S.]

Tatliusta, or Porpoise of Tilassi, his x mark, [L. S.]

John, of Little Tallico, his x mark, [L. S.]

Skeleak, his x mark, [L. S.]

Akonoluchta, the Cabin, his x mark, [L. S.]

Cheanoka, of Kawetakac, his x mark, [L. S.]

Yellow Bird, his x mark, [L. S.]


Wm. Blount,

Sam’l Taylor, Major.,

John Owen,

Jess. Walton,

Jno. Cowan, capt. comm’d’t,

Thos. Gregg,

W. Hazzard.

James Madison,

Arthur Cooley,.

Sworn interpreters.

Proclamation of 1763 | The Cherokee One Feather

And whereas it is just and reasonable, and essential to our Interest, and the Security of our Colonies, that the several Nations or Tribes of Indians with whom We are connected, and who live under our Protection, should not be molested or disturbed in the Possession of such Parts of Our Dominions and Territories as, not having been ceded to or purchased by Us, are reserved to them, or any of them, as their Hunting Grounds —We do therefore, with the Advice of our Privy Council, declare it to be our Royal Will and Pleasure, that no Governor or Commander in Chief in any of our Colonies of Quebec, East Florida, or West Florida, do presume, upon any Pretence whatever, to grant Warrants of Survey, or pass any Patents for Lands beyond the Bounds of their respective Governments, as described in their Commissions: as also that no Governor or Commander in Chief in any of our other Colonies or Plantations in America do presume for the present, and until our further Pleasure be known, to grant Warrants of Survey, or pass Patents for any Lands beyond the Heads or Sources of any of the Rivers which fall into the Atlantic Ocean from the West and North West, or upon any Lands whatever, which, not having been ceded to or purchased by Us as aforesaid, are reserved to the said Indians, or any of them.

And We do further declare it to be Our Royal Will and Pleasure, for the present as aforesaid, to reserve under our Sovereignty, Protection, and Dominion, for the use of the said Indians, all the Lands and Territories not included within the Limits of Our said Three new Governments, or within the Limits of the Territory granted to the Hudson’s Bay Company, as also all the Lands and Territories lying to the Westward of the Sources of the Rivers which fall into the Sea from the West and North West as aforesaid.

And We do hereby strictly forbid, on Pain of our Displeasure, all our loving Subjects from making any Purchases or Settlements whatever, or taking Possession of any of the Lands above reserved, without our especial leave and Licence for that Purpose first obtained.

And We do further strictly enjoin and require all Persons whatever who have either wilfully or inadvertently seated themselves upon any Lands within the Countries above described or upon any other Lands which, not having been ceded to or purchased by Us, are still reserved to the said Indians as aforesaid, forthwith to remove themselves from such Settlements.

And whereas great Frauds and Abuses have been committed in purchasing Lands of the Indians, to the great Prejudice of our Interests, and to the great Dissatisfaction of the said Indians: In order, therefore, to prevent such Irregularities for the future, and to the end that the Indians may be convinced of our Justice and determined Resolution to remove all reasonable Cause of Discontent, We do, with the Advice of our Privy Council strictly enjoin and require, that no private Person do presume to make any purchase from the said Indians of any Lands reserved to the said Indians, within those parts of our Colonies where We have thought proper to allow Settlement: but that, if at any Time any of the Said Indians should be inclined to dispose of the said Lands, the same shall be Purchased only for Us, in our Name, at some public Meeting or Assembly of the said Indians, to be held for that Purpose by the Governor or Commander in Chief of our Colony respectively within which they shall lie: and in case they shall lie within the limits of any Proprietary Government, they shall be purchased only for the Use and in the name of such Proprietaries, conformable to such Directions and Instructions as We or they shall think proper to give for that Purpose: And we do, by the Advice of our Privy Council, declare and enjoin, that the Trade with the said Indians shall be free and open to all our Subjects whatever, provided that every Person who may incline to Trade with the said Indians do take out a Licence for carrying on such Trade from the Governor or Commander in Chief of any of our Colonies respectively where such Person shall reside, and also give Security to observe such Regulations as We shall at any Time think fit, by ourselves or by our Commissaries to be appointed for this Purpose, to direct and appoint for the Benefit of the said Trade:

And we do hereby authorize, enjoin, and require the Governors and Commanders in Chief of all our Colonies respectively, as well those under Our immediate Government as those under the Government and Direction of Proprietaries, to grant such Licences without Fee or Reward, taking especial Care to insert therein a Condition, that such Licence shall be void, and the Security forfeited in case the Person to whom the same is granted shall refuse or neglect to observe such Regulations as We shall think proper to prescribe as aforesaid.

And we do further expressly conjoin and require all Officers whatever, as well Military as those Employed in the Management and Direction of Indian Affairs, within the Territories reserved as aforesaid for the use of the said Indians, to seize and apprehend all Persons whatever, who standing charged with Treason, Misprisions of Treason, Murders, or other Felonies or Misdemeanors, shall fly from Justice and take Refuge in the said Territory, and to send them under a proper guard to the Colony where the Crime was committed, of which they stand accused, in order to take their Trial for the same.

via Proclamation of 1763 | The Cherokee One Feather.

The (unwritten) History of North Carolina’s Public School’s

Chapter One — NC State Board of Education.

As part of my historical investigation of N.C. schools, one of the first “methods” I have used has really just been to run Internet searches for terms like “history of nc public schools.”  May as well start with what on the outer surface of available historical knowledge.  And as expected, these searches have turned up the usual broad, survey-level wikipedia links as well as a lot of links to individual schools’ (mostly college and university) history sites.  One particularly interesting hit that these initial searches came up with is an overview of the history of North Carolina’s public schools that extends all the way back to the drafting of the NC Constitution in 1776.

The constitution provided for State-supported schools then, though the idea of a school board would not really take hold until 1825 with the establishment of the “Literary Board.”  I thought this name had a certain Orwellian ring to it.  And so, I was disgusted, but not entirely surprised when I read that the Literary Fund was originally fed by “bank stocks and proceeds from the sales of vacant lands [my emphasis], as well as dividends from navigation companies, license taxes and money received from the federal government for aid in the removal of Cherokee Indians” (NC State Board of Education).

This was, after all, the age of The Indian Removal Act (1830) and the Trail of Tears, which forcibly displaced many thousands of the original inhabitants of the territory now known as North Carolina.  It is a pretty gross error that the author of this institutional history retains the designation “vacant lands” in this description and fails to interrogate such an obvious misrepresentation by the founders of North Carolina’s public school bureaucracy.

But as I mentioned, as despicable a move as it was to link the early funding of North Carolina’s public schools to the displacement and genocide of aboriginal people was not entirely unexpected.  It certainly fits the larger pattern of colonialism and imperial capitalism that have been the hallmark of the State and Federal governments of the U.S. since the beginning.

Who has written about the learning traditions of the Cherokee who were forced into hiding in the Appalachian Mountains the 1830s?  I am vaguely familiar with legendary figures like the Cherokee man, Tsali, who led a late wave of resistance against Jackson’s forces.  But I suspect that the stories I have heard, whitewashed as they were though Boy Scouts campfire rituals, are severely lacking in authenticity.

Here’s a link to a Cherokee newspaper which has some useful looking resources on EBCI Treaties between the Cherokee and US Government, but nothing after 1819 for some reason…

And here is a link to the Cherokee Central Schools website, which I want to explore in much greater length in the future.

What are the origins of these schools?  When, how were they established?  Why do they use North Carolina curriculum and assessments as they report on this site?  What are the consequences of this positive and negative?