Arkansas Cherokee Indians

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There have been many very notable and honored Chiefs that lived in the Arkansas Territory. Some have claimed Dangerous Man from the Cherokee legend of the Lost Cherokee resided in Arkansas for a time, however we will stick to what we know as fact, as that is usually the best policy when doing legitimate research.

 

This does not rule out Dangerous Man, however the evidence suggests his people lived in southwestern Texas and not Arkansas, so we will leave that issue and go forward.

Sometime around 1775, the Chickamauga drove off the French from the lead mines in Southeast Missouri, this was done for the purpose of gaining access to the lead itself which was needed for war. This in fact was very important to the Spanish as they then made overtures to the Cherokee to move West of the Mississippi to settle in Spanish lands as a way to keep the French in check, and to act as a buffer between Spanish interests and French Louisiana whom still maintained a strong presence there with the fur trade and several outposts.

The Cherokee however did not immediately move to the region, as it was still the hopes of many Chickamauga to drive off the settlers from their traditional hunting lands in the east. This ideal changed however in the year 1785 where several Chickamauga Chiefs signed what has become known as the Hopewell Treaty that year.

This treaty demanded that the Cherokee Nation come under no other sovereign other than the United States of America. While some Chickamauga Chiefs signed, there were many that refused to give up their own sovereignty to be under the “protection” of the United States.

For many Cherokees, this treaty was unacceptable and they chose to leave Old Nation lands rather than be forced to accept the terms of the treaty.

The facts are that the United States was in immediate breach of this treaty from the begining and nothing was done to curtail the settlement of lands that they promised they would protect from the invasion of the settlers. Within a very short time it was very apparent to the Cherokee that the Americans were not interested in stopping settlement of the lands regardless of what the treaty said.

Springfrog being disgusted at the outcome of the terms of this treaty, then removed from his traditional home and took many families West of the Mississippi to settle in the Arkansas Territory that he was familiar with from his visits in years past.

These circumstances marked the beginning of voluntary removal of Cherokee Indians from the old lands in the east to the Arkansas Territory that spanned a period of over 50 years!

The first documented Cherokee village in Arkansas was in the year 1785 on the White River. This was none other than Dustu’s Village whom was also known as the famous ball player Chief Springfrog. Springfrog was a very active man and was known to act as both scout and friend to James Audubon. Springfrog was born in a cabin in Hamilton County TN around the year of 1754, and his birth-place may still be visited today and is known as Springfrog’s Cabin.

Sometime later around 1795 Chief Duwali whom was the chief of Hiwasee Town in North Carolina arrived and began living on the St. Francis River. These Cherokee whom lived in this area were forced to leave in 1811 due to a massive Earthquake and flooding which made the Mississippi River and its tributaries run backwards. Duwali then moved his people to the White River for a short time, then moved his people to the south banks of the Arkansas, then later removed to Texas sometime around 1819.

Sometime around 1809, Talontuskee along with Chief Takatoka settled about 300 Cherokees on the White River, while others such as Duwali moved further south and west to live south of the Arkansas River in North Central Arkansas. Tahloteeskee as he is sometimes known was the uncle of Geroge Guess and became the principal Chief of the villages south of the Arkansas sometime around 1813.

Among this growing group of Cherokees was also Walter Webber whom came to the area roughly at the same time around 1809. Walter Webber later became third Chief after 1824. Walter Webber’s wife was the sister of Stand Watie.

John Jolly whom was the brother of Talontuskee, emigrated to the Arkansas Territory in the year 1817 and later became Chief sometime around 1818.

Tahchee whom was also known as Captain William Dutch was an early Old Settler and was famous for fighting the Osage. Tahchee later became a scout for the United States and was the spokesperson for the Indians during the councils for the 1835 Camp Holmes Peace Treaty. Tahchee died in 1848 after being active in Western Cherokee politics and serving as third Chief in his later years in Texas.

Among these early years of emigration, there were many Indians living in these lands whom came to the area after several wars with the whites in the east. Among those who came to the lands to live among the Cherokee were the Shawnee whom had also been in confederation in previous years with the Chickamauga in the resistance to fight white settlement of Indian lands.

Among these Indians was Peter Cornstalk who was the son of the famous Chief Cornstalk of the Great Shawnee Nation.

Peter Cornstalk and his Brother John were half Chickamauga Cherokee through their mother. Peter later became the Principal Chief of the Cherokees living at the mouth of Spring Creek where my 3rd Great Grandfather Isaac Weaver held the first legal land grant as recognized later by President Franklin Pierce in that exact location.

Spring Creek was an area with a very large village of Cherokees, and there were also numerous Shawnee whom lived in this area.