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 Famous Cherokee chiefs,
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Famous Cherokee chiefs, entertainers, artists, and leaders

Famous Cherokee from the Historical Eras

Austenaco - Principle Chief

Elias Boudinot (Buck Oowatie), nephew of Major Ridge and early publisher of first Cherokee newspaper

Chief Bowl (Duwali), principle chief of the Cherokees in Texas.

Bowl, known in his own language as Duwali, was the principal chief of the Cherokees in Texas. Bowl had led his band from North Carolina to Missouri to Arkansas, finally ending up in East Texas about 1819. In 1822, Bowl sent Richard Fields, a Cherokee diplomat, to Mexico to try to negotiate a land title for the tribe. Though Fields was unsuccessful, Bowl continued his efforts throughout the era of Mexican rule. In February 1836, Bowl negotiated a treaty with Sam Houston in which the newly formed Republic of Texas guaranteed the Cherokees possession of their lands in East Texas.

The Texas Senate refused to ratify the treaty. Desperate, Bowl entered into an alliance of Indians and Mexicans who were conspiring to overthrow the Republic. President Mirabeau B. Lamar discovered these machinations and ordered the Cherokees out of Texas. When they resisted, Lamar ordered military action. Bowl was killed in the Battle of the Neches on July 16, 1839.

Carrie Bushyhead, Trail of Tears survivor who became a prominent Indian Territory educator.

Doublehead (Chuquilatague,)was one of the 350 Cherokee who signed the treaties forced onto the rest of the 17,000 Cherokees living at that time, was later assassinated by Major Ridge (Kahnungdatlageh -"the man who walks the mountain top"),James Vann and Alexander Saunders as a Cherokee traitor. He was called Doublehead because he had a split personality.

Chief Dragging Canoe (Cui Canacina)(Tsi'yu-gunsini), the son of Attakullakulla and cousin of Nancy Ward and the primary leading force in the Cherokee's resistance to white settlement on Cherokee lands. He strongly resisted the sale of Cherokee lands to whites and spoke at treaty negotiations vehemently objecting to the continued sale of Cherokee land.

Charles Hicks, Vice Chief on the Trail of Tears and briefly Principal Chief himself in 1827 following the death of Pathkiller with John Ross as Second Principal Chief, before his own death just a few shorts weeks later brought that to an end. A protoge of the former warrior and Upper Towns chief James Vann, Hicks was one of the most influential leaders in the Nation during the period after the Chickamauga Wars to just past the first quarter of the 19th century. Extremely well-read and acculturated, his personal library was one of the biggest on the continent, public or private. A member of the Cherokee Triumvirate at the beginning of the 19th century, along with James Vann and Major Ridge. Elected Second Principal Chief under Pathkiller in 1811, a political dispute two years later left Hicks as de facto top chief with Pathkiller serving as a mere figurehead.

Kanagagota (aka Cunne Shote, Standing Turkey ),was major chief of the Cherokee who was known to the british as "Old Hope of Chote". He visited England in 1762 with a delegation of Cherokee.

Kingfisher - ?

Little Carpenter, also known as Attakullakulla, Supreme Chief of the Cherokee from 1760-1775

Koatohee - See Old Tassel

Little Turtle - ?

Corn Tassel (See Old Tassel - alternate spellings: Tassell or Tassle)

George Tassel (alternate spellings: Tassell or Tassle)- Probably a son of Old Tassel. A Cherokee who was executed for murder. In 1830, George Tassel was tried and convicted in Hall, Georgia and sentenced to hang for the murder of a white man on Indian land. Since the Cherokee Nation was sovereign, Tassel deserved to be tried in a Cherokee court. The Cherokee Nation won a stay of execution from the United States Supreme Court, but the State of Georgia ignored the stay and murdered him anyway. His legal case became the first Cherokee legal document to set precedence on behalf of Cherokee sovereignty. This case is still considered an important precedent for Indian sovereignty today.

John Watts (a.k.a. Young Tassel)
  • Watts was the son of a sister of Corn Tassel. Quite likely his father was John Watts who served as interpreter at the Cherokee treaty with the British at Augusta Georgia in 1763.
  • Watts had such a close attachment to Old Tassel that he was known as Young Tassel
  • In this era, it was Cherokee custom for a brother to raise his sister's children. Thus, some historians mistakenly list him as Old Tassel's son, when he was actually a nephew.
Old Tassel (A.k.a. Corn Tassel, George Watts, Kai-ya-tahee, Koatohee, or Corn Tassel of Toquo [see signature on Hopewell Treaty of 1785]) (alternate spellings: Kahyanteechee, Kayanatehee)
  • Born about 1720
  • Chief Corn Tassel was killed in Jun 1788 at Chilhowie, Little TN by Kirk of John Seviers militia unit
  • Father: Chief Dutch Tau-chee, Broom Deer Clan
  • Mother: Nancy Broom Moytoy, Full Blood, Paint Clan
  • Sister was Wurtah,Mother of Sequoyah.
  • Gist was allowed to settle on the Great Island (across from Fort Henry), and was married, in Cherokee terms, to Tasselís sister, Wurtuh.
  • Pumpkin Boy - Old Tasselís brother
  • ? Son was Little Tassle, Kunnesseei, or Green Corn Top
  • Corn Tassel was Doubleheads brother
  • John Watts (Young Tassel) was his nephew.
  • Daughter married Bob Benge.

Oconostota - the Warrior of Chota.

Pathkiller,(1749 to January 1827)
Pathkiller was the Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation, fought in the Revolutionary War for Britain and in the wars against American frontiersmen from 1783 through 1794. Pathkiller, a "fullblood," unacculturated Cherokee, became principal chief in 1811 and was the last individual from a conservative background to hold that office. Although Pathkiller remained principal chief through 1827, authority in the Cherokee Nation, after 1813, shifted to Charles Hicks.

Pathkiller was the mentor to John Ross, identifying the young Cherokee of Scotch-Irish descent as the future leader of the Cherokee people. Pathkiller is buried in New Echota Cemetery in New Echota, Georgia.

Rayetayah (a.k.a. Hanging Maw)

John Ridge (son of Major Ridge)

Major Ridge -

John Ross (Guwisguwi or Cooweescoowe), 1/8th Cherokee, principle chief of the Cherokee at the time of Cherokee removal. Once there, Ross was instrumental in drafting a Cherokee constitution that united the eastern and western branches of the tribe. That year he was also chosen chief of the united tribe, an office he held until his death.

He settled near Park Hill in Oklahoma, where he erected a mansion and farmed, using his many slaves to cultivate his fields. His first wife, a Cherokee, Quatie, died in 1839. In 1845 he married a white woman who died in 1865.

His father was a Scotsman; his mother was one-quarter Cherokee and three-quarters Scot. Ross was educated by private tutors and then at Kingston Academy in Tennessee.

Alexander Saunders - ?

Sequoyah (George Gist), is credited with inventing the Cherokee writing system, although Cherokee oral history suggests he may have borrowed from an earlier writing system used only by Cherokee priests.

Stand Waitie, Confederate General


James Vann

Nancy Ward

Chief Yonaguska

Famous Cherokee from the Modern Era


Sir Winston Churchill

President Bill Clinton (who claims to be one-sixteenth Cherokee, although no documentation has been found to support this).

John Nance Garner (nicknamed Cactus Jack), 32nd Vice President of the US under Roosevelt

Wilma Mankiller was the first female Cherokee Principal Chief and a well known native american activist.

Rosa Parks, who wouldn't give up her seat on a bus, the incident that started racial reform in the 60s for blacks.

John Leak Springston


Monte Blue, appeared in 278 television and movie roles.

Walter Brennan


Victor Daniels (stage name Chief Thundercloud), played Tonto in the early Lone Ranger films.

Johnny Depp, famous for the Pirates of the Caribbean movies.

Charisma Carpenter

David Carradine

Iron Eyes Cody

Kevin Costner, became famous for Dances With Wolves, went on to become superstar

James Garner

Clu Gulager was Deputy, later Sheriff, Ryker on the long-running television series The Virginian.

James Earl Jones

Christopher Judge

Arthur Junaluska, Eastern Cherokee, was an actor, playwright, and theatrical director.

Tom Mix

Chuck Norris

Lou Diamond Philips

Burt Reynolds

Will Rogers was a performer in Wild West shows and on stage, later becoming a film actor, radio personality, and nationally syndicated newspaper columnist.

Liv Tyler

Wes Studi is full-blood Cherokee, and has received critical acclaim for his portrayals of Magua in The Last of the Mohicans (1992), and Geronimo (1994).

Dennis Weaver was known for his Emmy-winning role as Chester on the long-running television series Gunsmoke, and in the McCloud television series.


Jack Dempsey, boxing champion


Robert Rauschenberg, painter.


Tori Amos also shares Cherokee ancestry.

Anita Bryant, singer, beauty queen, and celebrity spokesperson who became best known for her work in favor of bigotry against gays and lesbians.

Johnny Cash, country-western legend.

Cher, the actress and singer.

Rita Coolidge, country western legend.

Billy Ray Cyrus, country western singer

Miley Cyrus

Crystal Gayle, country western singer.

Jimi Hendrix, rock legend, was of Cherokee heritage through his maternal grandmother, Nora Rose Moore.

Eartha Kitt

Loretta Lynn, country western superstar.

Willie Nelson, country-western legend, folk hero.

John Phillips of the singing group,The Mamas and the Papas, famous in the 1970-80s.

Elvis Presley, singer, musician and actor, maybe the biggest musical legend of the 20th century.

Tiffany, singer.

Steven Tyler, singer in the rock band called Aerosmith.


Oral Roberts, Television Evangelist


Gary Robinson, is a writer, producer and director.

Mitch Cullin, writer.
American Indian Chiefs, 1900
American Indian Chiefs, 1900 Giclee Print
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Names of the Cherokee moons
Names and meanings of the months in the Cherokee language.

Little Carpenter, Peace Chief of the Cherokee, 1699-1797
According to his son, Turtle At Home, his father was originally a Mishwakihha, one of the divisions of the Nipissing Indians, and had been captured as an infant and adopted by the Cherokees.

Tsi'yu-gunsini - Dragging Canoe, Chickamaugas Chief
Tsi'yu-gunsini was a war leader who led a dissident band of young Cherokees against the United States in the American Revolutionary War. Dragging Canoe is considered by many to be the most significant leader of the Southeast, and provided a significant role model for the younger Tecumseh, who was a member of a band of Shawnee living with the Chickamaugas and taking part in their wars.

The Raven Mocker is the most dreaded of Cherokee witches
A Raven Mocker can be of either sex, and there is no real way to know one. They usually look old and withered, because they have added so many lives to their own.

Shadow of the Eagle
A Cherokee poem.

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