Dutch ~ Chief of the Cherokee Nation West

Who are the Western Cherokee?

The Western Cherokee are Native Americans who identified themselves as Cherokee, identified with the mountainous areas of Arkansas, Oklahoma and Missouri. They lived west of the Mississippi before the Trail of Tears, and did not migrate to Indian Territory after the Cherokee Treaty of 1828. The Western Cherokee are not a single group but instead are a coalition of groups with various historical backgrounds in Arkansas, southern Missouri, Eastern Oklahoma, Kansas and Texas. They identify as a community with a singular identity. They are a single nation unified by their identity as Cherokee, and in their shared government, and recognized by the United States as the Cherokee Nation West under the Treaties of 1817 and 1819. The Cherokee Nation West never ratified or recognized the Treaty of 1828, which removed the Cherokee Nation West lands. The Western Cherokee delegation who signed that document, which was sent for approval to the United States Congress by President Adams before it was ratified by the Cherokee Nation West Full Council, informed the United States verbally and in writing that the treaty was not valid until it was signed by the Full Council in Arkansas (Royce 1975:118-120). The Western Cherokee were not bound by the Treaty of 1828 since it had not been approved or ratified by the Full Cherokee Nation West Council (Sub-Agent Brearly letter Secretary of War, September 27, 1828).

The Western Cherokee constitute a coalition of diverse Cherokee groups each with a unique individual history. The unifying factors that held the Western Cherokee together included (1) an identity separate from other Cherokee based on their identification with the Ancient communities West of the Mississippi and a common belief that Creator had wished the Cherokee to stay west of the Mississippi to remove themselves from the "European" influences, (2) a common government, the Full Council of the Cherokee Nation West, and (3) identity with the Sacred Homelands in the Ozarks. Their lands included the hilly and mountainous areas of Arkansas, southern Missouri, eastern Oklahoma, southeastern Kansas, and northeastern Texas. Their core Sacred Homelands were bounded on the north by the Devil's Backbone (the north/south water flow break point in southern Missouri), the Mississippi River on the east, the Arkansas River on the south, and the end of the "hill county" in eastern Oklahoma and southeastern Kansas. The Sacred Homelands had been lands that were held for at least 1800 years, though they were partially lost to invading "People Eaters" from the south and the "Great Warriors" from the west about 800-900 years ago (Interviews: Lee Brody and Jean Skaggs September 14, 2000, Red Wasp (John Dushanack) May 20, 2001, Richard Craker November 24, 2001). Their lands, associated with their relationship with the United States government, were those lands outlined in the Treaty of 1819.


-Cherokee Nation West Anthropologist Dr. Timothy W. Jones


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