Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Principal Chief John Ross

Between 1790 and 1845, the Cherokee attempted to become a nation state, lost their ancestral land, endured removal to the Indian Territory, and suffered the destructive Civil War, in which their early alliance with the Confederacy jeopardized their nation. Throughout these tumultuous years, the dominant political figure in the Cherokee Nation was John Ross, whose leadership spanned the entire period. By ancestry, Ross was seven-eighths Scottish, and he grew up in both Cherokee and frontier American environments. He had been educated in English by white men and was a poor speaker of the Cherokee language, but his bi-cultural background allowed him to represent the Cherokee to the Americans in government. He was one of the wealthiest men of the Cherokee Nation.

In terms of heritage, education, status, and economic pursuits, Ross closely resembled his political foes President Andrew Jackson and Governor George R. Gilmer of Georgia. He was among the elite of the Cherokee Nation. By his own person he called into question many of the 19th century European-American assumptions about race and Native American.

John Ross was Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation from 1828 to 1866.

For more on his life: Click Here.

To read a 1836 letter from John Ross to the US Congress pleading the Cherokee case: Click Here.

For the most part, the plea fell on deaf ears.

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