Principal Chief John Ross
(Photo courtesy of Wiki Commons - public domain photo)
This is the first in a series of blog posts offering brief information on every constitutionally-elected Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation since 1828.
John Ross, or Cooweescoowee (“Mysterious Little White Bird”) was born in the Cherokee settlement known as Turkeytown, Alabama, on 3 October 1790. His father was Scottish and his mother Cherokee. Schooled at the Kingston Academy in Tennessee, Ross became a prominent leader of Cherokee resistance to invading colonial influence. Federal agents spent much time trying to bribe Ross into approving Cherokee land sales, which Ross resisted and reported.
Ross became chief in 1828. The Treaty of New Echota, signed in 1835 and ratified in 1836, ceded (by a minority Cherokee faction) Cherokee lands to the United States Government. Ross led the resistance against the treaty, but to no avail. He led the western Cherokees across the Mississippi River to Indian Territory during the Trail of Tears (TOT) in 1838-39. Ross’ first wife, Quatie, died on the steamboat "Victoria," on a TOT river route 1 February 1839. When most of the Cherokees were forced to the new Indian Territory, Ross helped create a new constitution and was elected Principal Chief for the new territory in 1839, and held that office until his death on 1 August 1866.
John Ross is buried in Ross Cemetery, Tahlequah, Cherokee County, Oklahoma.
***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.
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