There are many Famous Cherokee people because they are one of the largest tribes.
Attakullakulla –See Little Carpenter
Austenaco – Principle ChiefBlack Fox
Elias Boudinot (Buck Oowatie), nephew of Major Ridge and early publisher of first Cherokee newspaperChief Bowl (Duwali, also known as
Captain William Dutch or just Dutch, a.k.a. Tahchee) –He was an early Old Settler and was famous for fighting the Osage. Bowl 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.
He 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.
He was active in Western Cherokee politics and served as third Chief in his later years in Texas.
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 this 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.Connetoo (also known as John Hill) – Led Cherokee families to the Arkansas Territory.
John Cornstalk – Half Chickamauga Cherokee through his mother. Brother of Peter Cornstalk.
Peter Cornstalk – Half Chickamauga Cherokee through his mother. Principal Chief of the Cherokees living at the mouth of Spring Creek.
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, a.k.a. 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.
Chief Duwali – Chief of Hiwasee Town in North Carolina. Arrived in Arkansas around 1795 and began living on the St. Francis River .
The 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.
Dutch – See Chief Bowl
George Duvall – Led Cherokee families to resettlement in the Arkansas Territory.
Jeffrey A. Gibson (born March 31, 1972) is a Choctaw-Cherokee painter and sculptor.
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.
John Jolly -Brother to Tolluntuskee. He emigrated to the Arkansas Territory in the year 1817 and later became Chief sometime around 1818.
Dick Justice (also known as Dek-keh the Just)
Kanagagota (Cunne Shote, a.k.a. 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 – Koatohee – See Old Tassel
Little Carpenter, (also known as Attakullakulla) – Supreme Chief of the Cherokee from 1760-1775
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 Tassel’s sister, Wurtuh.
Pumpkin Boy – Old Tassel’s 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 – See John Ross
John Ross (Guwisguwi or Cooweescoowe, a.k.a. Major Ridge), 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 (also known as George Gist or Guest), inventor of the Cherokee syllabary.
Skawuaw (also known as the Swan) – Cherokee prophet.
Sequoyah (also known as 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.
Nimrod Jarrett Smith, 1837–1893 – Principal Chief
Chief Spring Frog (Dustu) – Famous ball player. 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.
Stand Waitie –The last major Confederate field commander to surrender to the Union, which took place at Doaksville, in the Choctaw Nation, Indian Territory.
William Holland Thomas, 1805–1893 – Principal Chief
Toluntuskee (Tahloteeskee) -Uncle of George Guess. Around 1809, Talontuskee along with Chief Takatoka settled about 300 Cherokees on the White River in Arkansas.
Toluntuskee invited the Protestant missionaries who founded Dwight Mission in 1820 near what is now Russellville (Pope County) so that Cherokee children could learn Anglo-American ways.
Ironically, the mission was in a location firmly under the control of Takatoka, who opposed its goals. Talontuskee became the principal Chief of the villages south of the Arkansas sometime around 1813.
Tsali Unacata (also known as White Man Killer) – Led Cherokee families to Arkansas Territory.
- Nancy Ward, (Nanye-hi) Cherokee (ca. 1738-ca. 1824)
- Nancy Ward: Military and Genealogical Records of the Famous Indian Woman of Tennessee
John Watts – Served as interpreter at the Cherokee treaty with the British at Augusta Georgia in 1763.
Walter “Wat” Webber – Moved his people to Arkansas around 1809 and settled near Takatoka and Toluntuskee’s people. Walter Webber later became third Chief after 1824. Walter Webber’s wife was the sister of Stand Watie.
William “Red-Headed Will” Webber Led Cherokee families to resettlement in the Arkansas Territory.
Wohsi (Also known as Moses Price) -Led Cherokee families to resettlement in the Arkansas Territory.
Famous Cherokee from the Modern Era
ACTIVISTS / POLITICIANS
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 United States under President 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
John Tyler Hammons (b. 1988), mayor of Muskogee, Oklahoma
Stacy Leeds, former justice on the Cherokee Nation Supreme Court, judge for three tribal courts, law professor
J. B. Milam (1884-1949), Principal Chief
Chad Smith, incumbent Principal Chief and attorney
Ross Swimmer, Principal Chief and Special Trustee for American Indians at the U.S. Department of the Interior
Joe Byrd, Principal Chief, known for the 1997 Constitutional Crisis
Brad Carson (b. 1967), Oklahoma congressman
Daniel Heath Justice, author
W. W. Keeler (1908-1987), Principal Chief
Monte Blue, appeared in 278 television and movie roles.
Cher – Her sister said she made her Cherokee ancestry up as a publicity stunt.
Victor Daniels (stage name Chief Thundercloud), played Tonto in the early Lone Ranger films.
Johnny Depp, famous for the Pirates of the Caribbean movies. Cherokee heritage is doubtful.
Iron Eyes Cody
Kevin Costner, became famous for Dances With Wolves, went on to become superstar
Clu Gulager was Deputy, later Sheriff, Ryker on the long-running television series The Virginian
.James Earl Jones
Arthur Junaluska, Eastern Cherokee, was an actor, playwright, and theatrical director.
Henry Kingi, actor and stuntman
Lou Diamond Philips
Will Rogers (1879–1935) was a performer in Wild West shows and on stage, later becoming a film actor, radio personality, and nationally syndicated newspaper columnist.
Will Rogers, Jr. (1911-1993), journalist and California congressman
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).
- Wes Studi Filmography
- Wes Studi inducted into Hall of Great Western Performers
- Wes Studi, back with host of colorful characters for Comanche Moon mini series
- TV Review: 1st segment of Comanche Moon mini-series
- Joe Leaphorn is not his old self but Tony Hillerman is happy with ‘Skinwalkers’
- Film crew documents drama of Cherokee tears
- Independent film explores history of Haskell Boarding School
- Wes Studi arrested on a charge of aggravated DWI
Dennis Weaver was known for his Emmy-winning role as Chester on the long-running television series Gunsmoke, and in the McCloud television series.
Victor Daniels (stage name Chief Thundercloud), played Tonto in the early Lone Ranger films.
Jack Dempsey, boxing champion
Bud Adams (b. 1923), businessman and owner of the Tennessee Titans and Houston Oilers
Sam Bradford (b. 1987), quarterback, winner of the Heisman Trophy.
Sixkiller (b. 1951), football player
Robert Rauschenberg, painter.
Amanda Crowe, 1928–2004 – Sculptor and educator.
Hastings Shade, former Deputy Chief, traditionalist, language expert, artist, and National Treasure
Martha Berry, bead artist, curator, and author
Roy Boney Jr. (b.1978), artist, animator, comic book illustrator
Robert Rauschenberg, painter.
Kay WalkingStick (b. 1935), painter and educator
Mike Dart (b. 1977), basket weaver and activistT
almadge Davis (1962-2005), painter
Mavis Doering (1929-2007), basket weaver
Joseph L. Erb (b.1974), artist, first 3-D animator in Cherokee language
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. Sister says Cherokee ancestry was made up for publicity.
Rita Coolidge, country western legend.
Billy Ray Cyrus, country western singer
Crystal Gayle, country western singer.
Jimi Hendrix, rock legend, was of Cherokee heritage through his maternal grandmother, Nora Rose Moore.
Barbara McAlister (b. 1941), mezzo soprano opera singer
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.
Steven Tyler, singer in the rock band called Aerosmith.
Litefoot, rapper, actor and activist.
Tommy Wildcat, Cherokee-Muscogee-Natchez musician, actor, traditionalist.
Oral Roberts, Television Evangelist
Cherokee Directors, Producers and Writers
Gary Robinson, is a writer, producer and director.
Mitch Cullin, writer.
Marilou Awiakta, b. 1936 – Author
Phil Konstantin (b. 1952), author, TV reporter, historian, website creator.
Modern Day Soldiers:
Charles George, 1932–1952 – Congressional Medal of Honor recipient
Junaluska, ca. 1775–1868 – Military leader and diplomat
Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma (F)
Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians of North Carolina (F)
Echota Cherokee Tribe of AlabamaAL (S)
United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians in Oklahoma (F) (formerly the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians of Oklahoma)
Also see: State and Un-Recognized Cherokee Tribes for a list of 348 state recognized or unrecognized Cherokee tribes and organizations who call themselves Cherokee tribes.
Chuck Norris (born March 10, 1940) was born Charles Norris in Ryan, Oklahoma on March 10, 1940, the son of Wilma (née Scarberry) and Ray Norris, who was a World War II Army soldier, mechanic, bus driver, and truck driver. Norris is Irish and Cherokee Indian. His paternal grandmother and maternal grandfather were full blooded Cherokees.
Frank Blackhorse (Francis DeLuca, Frank Leonard Deluca, Cherokee) is one of several aliases used by a member of the American Indian Movement. He is perhaps best known for his participation in the Wounded Knee incident, particularly his role in the shootout that left two FBI and one American Indian dead and for becoming a fugitive on the run who fled to Canada shortly after.
Much of Blackhorse’s early and personal life is shrouded in mystery. According to one source, Frank Blackhorse was born Frank Leonard Deluca. However, another source identifies Frank Blackhorse as being born Francis Deluca.
Blackhorse has an incredibly long list of aliases which he uses. The list of these aliases, include Francis Blackhorse, Frank DeLuca, Bruce Johnson, Richard Leon High Eagle, Richard Tall Bull, Mike Houston, Michael Houston, Teddy Louis and Teddy Lewis.
Henry Starr, Cherokee, (1873–1921) was the last in a long line of Starr family criminals. Twice sentenced by Judge Isaac Parker to hang for murder, he managed to escape the noose due to technicalities and went on to form a notorious gang that terrorized and robbed throughout northwest Arkansas and Colorado around the start of the 20th century.