(Photo courtesy of Wiki Commons - public domain photo)
This is the fourth in a series of blog posts offering brief information on every constitutionally-elected Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation since 1828.
Charles Thompson, or Utselata, was born sometime in the early 1800s in the Cherokee Nation East. While young, he attended the Baptist Mission School in Valley Town, now Andrews, North Carolina. He was heavily influenced by The Rev. Evan Jones and his son, John Buttrick Jones. Utsela’s family was forced to make the journey on the Trail of Tears and settled in what is now Delaware County, Oklahoma.
Utsela joined the Keetoowah Society in 1859. He joined the 1st Regiment of the Cherokee Mounted Rifles during the Civil War on the Confederate side. In 1867, he was elected as a Delaware District senator to the Cherokee National Council. During this time period, he took the name Charles Thompson. While a senior senator in the Cherokee Senate, he was appointed to fill Chief Downing’s place during his dying days. On 1 August 1875, Thompson defeated William P. Ross in the election for Principal Chief, and served until 1879.
Charles Thompson died 22 June 1891. He is buried in the old Indian cemetery Eucha, a town that was relocated in 1952. His grave, of course, was relocated at that time.
***Bryan D. Jackson’s new release, Chattahoochee Rain (ages 12 and up), is available for purchase for the holidays. It is a historical fiction account that paints a portrait of events during the months leading up to the Treaty of New Echota and features some of Bryan’s direct ancestors.
"YOH-nuh" (yonv) means "bear" in Cherokee. Thanks for visiting!