http://www.cherokeephoenix.orgA map created by the Arkansas Archeological Survey shows a Cherokee reservation and Cherokee settlements in the late 1700s and early 1800s in what is today Arkansas. In 1828, these Cherokee Old Settlers were forced to abandon their Arkansas settlements and move into Indian Territory, now Oklahoma. COURTESY
A map created by the Arkansas Archeological Survey shows a Cherokee reservation and Cherokee settlements in the late 1700s and early 1800s in what is today Arkansas. In 1828, these Cherokee Old Settlers were forced to abandon their Arkansas settlements and move into Indian Territory, now Oklahoma. COURTESY

TOTA conference highlights Cherokee Old Settlers

Arkansas Archeological Survey Director George Sabo III speaks to an audience on what led the Cherokee Old Settlers to settle in Arkansas during his presentation “Cherokee Old Settlers in Arkansas,” on Oct. 16 at the 22nd annual Trail of Tears Conference and Symposium in Pocola, Oklahoma. WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Arkansas Archeological Survey Director George Sabo III speaks to an audience on what led the Cherokee Old Settlers to settle in Arkansas during his presentation “Cherokee Old Settlers in Arkansas,” on Oct. 16 at the 22nd annual Trail of Tears Conference and Symposium in Pocola, Oklahoma. WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
BY KENLEA HENSON
Reporter
11/15/2017 08:15 AM
POCOLA, Okla. – George Sabo III, Arkansas Archeological Survey director at the University of Arkansas, spoke about Cherokee Old Settlers on Oct. 16 during the 22nd annual Trail of Tears Conference and Symposium.

“My goal is to examine the experiences and accomplishments of Cherokee Old Settlers in Arkansas within a framework that considers historical events setting the stage for Cherokee arrivals during the late 18th and early 19th centuries,” he said.

Sabo highlighted historical events from the first encounters between Natives and Europeans in the mid-16th century to the French and Spanish alliance with Native leaders that led to early Cherokee settlements in Arkansas. These early settlers are known today as Old Settlers.

In the 17th century, Sabo said French and Spanish documents show that tribes such as the Tunicas, Caddo, Quapaw and Osage inhabited lands in Arkansas.

According to Sabo’s research, some of the first Old Settlers settled along the St. Francis River in northeastern Arkansas after “Anglo-Americans” violated the 1785 Treaty of Hopewell. The Cherokee, Choctaw and Chickasaw had signed the treaty with the new U.S. Congress. By 1805 approximately 1,000 Old Settlers were living along the St. Francis River, but they weren’t alone. People from the Abenaki, Delaware, Illinois, Miami and Shawnee tribes also occupied the area after the Revolutionary War.

Sabo discussed two events that led Cherokees to relocate to Arkansas in the early 19th century. One was an 1808 land cession between Upper Louisiana Gov. William Clark and Osage Chief Pawhuska. Although Pawhuska thought the treaty would secure hunting rights in the territory for the Osage, Clark planned for the territory to be open for settlement by other tribes.

The other event was an earthquake known as the New Madrid earthquake, which it and its aftershocks occurred from December 1811 to February 1812 in northeastern Arkansas and southeastern Missouri. The earthquakes destroyed Native settlements along the St. Francis River, including those of the Old Settlers. Sabo referenced historian Conevery Bolton Valencius, who noted that the earthquakes weren’t just a series of events to the southeastern Natives but “signs portending grave cultural and religious implications.”

Those two events plus the continuous conflict in the eastern Cherokee homelands resulted in the Old Settlers and more eastern Cherokees traveling west to the northern banks of the Arkansas River near present-day Russellville, Arkansas, to settle. Sabo suggests the Quapaw were in “friendly relationships” with the Cherokee newcomers.

“The Quapaws were, indeed, perfectly comfortable with an upstream Cherokee settlement area that could serve as a buffer separating Quapaws from Osages, among whom antagonisms still occasionally flared,” he said.

While in the new territory it was not peaceful for the Old Settlers. The Osage saw the land as theirs and attacked Cherokee settlements. For nearly a decade, the Old Settlers and the Osage warred.

Sabo mentioned one battle between the Old Settlers and Osages in 1817. The Cherokees organized 600 fighters and “attacked” Osage Chief Clermont’s town, killing more than 30 Osage and taking more than 100 prisoners. This event led the Osage to petition for a peace negotiation, which resulted in a land cession known as Lovely’s Purchase. The cession obtained an area of land that extended north of the Arkansas River to southern Missouri and 40 miles west from Fort Smith, Arkansas. Sabo said the ceded land was to act as a “buffer” between the Osages and Old Settlers.

“Cherokee assessments of the continuously changing geopolitical landscape enabled them to gain an upper hand over Osages,” he said.

After securing the land, the Old Settlers advanced in “American-style civilization.” They developed well-structured housing, schools and churches such as the Dwight Mission. Many developed ranches and fenced fields for crops and livestock. Sabo said the Old Settlers also tried to stay true to their culture.

“There were consequently two faces to Cherokee settlements in Arkansas, one illustrating a successful march toward civilization outwardly embracing white American ideals, the other preserving important cultural institutions including social structure, political leadership and religious belief and practice,” Sabo said.

All seemed well for the Cherokees. However, after the Treaty of Ghent was signed in 1814, ending the war between Great Britain, France and the United States, “Anglo-American” settlements in Arkansas multiplied. As the “Anglo” population grew, so did the “racial perspective” of Natives. The tribes that were once viewed as civilized were now seen as “savage.”

“In the view of territorial and federal officials, southeastern Indians including Cherokees should be removed even farther west to make way for the advance of American civilization,” Sabo said. “By the end of the second decade of the 19th century, these sentiments galvanized into legislative action at state, territorial and federal levels across the South to forcibly remove Indians from all lands in the path of expanding Anglo-American settlement.”

Hoping to escape removal, some Old Settler leaders went to Washington, D.C., to convince officials that they should be allowed to purchase their Arkansas lands. The Eastern Cherokees were also in Washington asking to remain on their homelands. Sabo said Congress and President John Quincy Adams’ administration would not budge.

Although the Old Settlers had to abandon their lands, where they were relocated to in 1828 wasn’t far. They settled parts of present-day Sequoyah, Muskogee and McIntosh counties in what is now eastern Oklahoma. Some of them settled again along the Arkansas River and formed the communities of Webbers Falls and Tahlonteeskee, later renamed Gore.

“The one small consolation for the Old Settlers was that their newly granted lands were located a comparatively short distance up the Arkansas River, and the move took place without most of the horror that accompanied the larger-scale Trail of Tears removals that commenced a decade later,” Sabo said. “And here we are today, celebrating a legacy of trial and tribulation but also of perseverance and success.”
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BY KENLEA HENSON
Reporter
05/18/2018 08:00 AM
TAHLEQUAH – Every year on May 7 the Descendants of the Cherokee Seminaries Students Organization hold its annual reunion at Northeastern State University where it awards two NSU students with scholarships. This year’s recipients were Cherokee Nation citizens Bryley Hoodenpyle and Marilyn Tschida. Both students received a $1,000 scholarship based on their GPAs, activities and interviews. Hoodenpyle said her fourth great-grandmother’s aunt and two cousins attended the Cherokee Male and Female seminaries, which she discovered through online research and NSU’s archives. She said after college she plans to attend NSU’s optometry school. “It means a lot to me to receive this scholarship just because this university has given so much to me and has helped me grow personally,” Hoodenpyle said. “NSU has developed me as a student and as a leader so its really awesome to me that my family played a part in that story however many years ago.” Tschida is an education graduate student and plans to graduate in December. She said she found her grandmother’s name in the Cherokee Female Seminary roll book in NSU’s archives and decided to apply for the scholarship. “I am really proud to accept it, I think she would be very proud for me to have gotten something on her behalf,” Tschida said. On May 7, 1889, the Cherokee Female Seminary reopened north of Tahlequah after a fire destroyed it two years earlier. So, no matter what day May 7 falls on, the descendants of students who attended the Cherokee Male and Female seminaries gather to honor their ancestors and their time at the schools. DCSSO President Rick Ward said the reunion is the oldest tradition on NSU’s campus, accruing annually for 167 years with the exception of one year during World War II. “It started out as a picnic, but it wasn’t the descendants getting together it was the actual students of the seminaries coming together, bringing food and visiting out in front of the sycamore tree,” he said. After noticing the number seminary students fading away, Jack Brown established the DCSSO in 1975. Brown served as the executive vice president of the Cherokee Seminaries Students Alumni Association for years. He wanted to get the descendants of the alumni involved in the activities of the association as well as keep the tradition alive. In 1984 the name officially changed to the Descendants of Cherokee Seminaries Students Organization. The state bought the Female Seminary in 1909, which now serves as Seminary Hall and the centerpiece of NSU. DCSSO Secretary Ginny Wilson said she wants to keep the reunion tradition alive for her grandmother, who was a student at the Female Seminary. “I do this for my grandmother. We used to bring her up here to this reunion. It was always the one thing in her life she wanted to do,” Wilson said. Wilson said the DCSSO follows the same format as their ancestors did during their reunions, which consists of the organization’s meeting, lunch, a speaker, the Cherokee choir and Miss Cherokee. “We follow that format as close as we can to just do the same thing. It’s gotten a whole lot smaller, but that’s what we do as descendants in memory of those people,” she said. Since the DCSSO established a scholarship for students who are descendants in the early 2000s, its goal is to continue to provide that scholarship. “Our biggest plan is to increase our scholarship amount. That’s the most important, but also to keep the (May 7) tradition going at Northeastern. Otherwise it will die,” Wilson said.
BY STAFF REPORTS
05/16/2018 12:00 PM
SALLISAW – Enjoy a day of traditional Cherokee art, music and more, honoring legendary statesman and inventor of the Cherokee syllabary, Sequoyah. The event will be held in conjunction with Cherokee Nation’s Traditional Native Games. Sequoyah Day begins at 10 a.m. on May 19 at Sequoyah’s Cabin Museum. “We are proud to bring to life an event like Sequoyah Day. It’s a unique daylong celebration of Cherokee history and culture at the home of the man who pioneered the Cherokee syllabary,” Principal Chief Bill John Baker said. “Now that Cherokee Nation owns and operates the Sequoyah Cabin Park, we can organize these types of family-driven events that are both educational and fun for all.” The event runs until 4 p.m. and features live performances, activities for children and cultural demonstrations such as pottery, flint-knapping, bow-making, stone carving and graphics. The event includes multiple performances from the Cherokee National Youth Choir and a special language presentation at 1:30 p.m. Sequoyah built the cabin in 1829 and welcomes more than 12,000 visitors each year. It was designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1966 and a National Literary Landmark in 2006. The homestead includes a one-room cabin and nearly 200 acres. Prior to reopening under CN management in 2017, Sequoyah’s Cabin Museum received much-needed repairs and renovations. The museum now features large displays that share the story of Sequoyah, his development of the Cherokee syllabary and the Cherokee language today. The museum also features a retail space offering Cherokee Nation apparel, gifts and souvenirs. The museum is located at Highway 101, 7 miles east of Highway 59. For more information, visit <a href="http://www.VisitCherokeeNation.com" target="_blank">www.VisitCherokeeNation.com</a>.
BY STAFF REPORTS
05/09/2018 12:00 PM
PARK HILL – Explore the messages of John Ross in his correspondences with fellow tribesmen and political allies throughout his 38 years as principal chief of the Cherokee Nation. “The Letters of John Ross” is the tribe’s first digital exhibit and allows guests to view documents that are usually off view and housed in collections at the Gilcrease Museum in Tulsa. Featured writings address topics such as delegation nominations, potential resolutions, rumors of assassination plots and the possible removal of Cherokee people to Mexico. “This is the first exhibit of its kind for Cherokee Nation, and we are eager to see how the public responds,” Travis Owens, Cherokee Nation Businesses cultural tourism director, said. “The digital format enables guests to focus on their specific interests in an interactive and engaging way.” The exhibit runs May 4 through Jan. 31 at the John Ross Museum, which highlights Ross’ life and legacy and houses exhibits and interactive displays on the Trail of Tears, Civil War, Cherokee Golden Age and tribe’s passion for education. The museum is housed in an old, rural school building known as School #51 and sits at the foot of Ross Cemetery, where Ross and other notable CN citizens are buried. The museum is located at 22366 S. 530 Road. It’s open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. For information, call -1877-779-6977 or visit <a href="http://www.VisitCherokeeNation.com" target="_blank">www.VisitCherokeeNation.com</a>.
BY STAFF REPORTS
05/09/2018 10:00 AM
TAHLEQUAH – The Cherokee Speakers Bureau will be held Thursday May 10, 2018 from 12:30 – 4 p.m. We will meet in the Community Ballroom that is located behind the Restaurant of the Cherokee. All Cherokee speakers are invited to attend. If you want to bring a side dish or a dessert, feel free to bring it. Come speak Cherokee and enjoy food and fellowship. For further information about the event, please contact: the Language Program at 918-453-5151. Tsalagi aniwonisgi unadatlugv dodvnatlosi Nvgineiga Anisgvti 10, 2018, ganvsulvi 12:30pm adalenisgi 4 p.m. igohida. Na Anitsalagi tsunalisdayetiyi tsigotlv unaditli wayvsdi onadilvyvi utani kanvsula dodvnatlosi. Naniv Anitsalagi aniwonisgi otsitayohiha uniluhisdii. Alisdayvdi ayohisdi yodulia. Dodayotsadatlisani ale dodayotsalisdayvna hilutsvi. Ugodesdi tsadulihesdi tsadelayohisdi hiina wigehiyadvdi: Tsalagi Gawonihisdi Unadotlvsv 918- 453-5151.
BY STAFF REPORTS
05/08/2018 08:00 AM
BENTONVILLE, Ark. – The Museum of Native American History will host storytelling and a beadwork class on May 12. The museum is located at 202 S.W. “O” St. Admission is free, and the events are open to all. From 10:30 a.m. to 11 a.m., MONAH staff will share traditional Yup'ik (Alaska) and Cherokee stories about how berries came to be just in time for berry season. “Our stories for the day include ‘Berry Magic,’ written and illustrated by Teri Sloat and Betty Huffmon, and ‘The First Strawberries: A Cherokee Story,’ retold by Joseph Bruchac and illustrated by Anna Vojtech. Stick around after the stories to make a self-portrait using nature and try akutaq, a traditional Yup'ik dish made with berries,” MONAH Director Charlotte Buchanan-Yale said. Storytime is geared toward ages 4 and up, but kids of all ages and their adults are welcome. A Creative Visions artist will host and teach a “Beadwork for Beginners” class beginning at 5:30 p.m. in the museum. Join Cherokee beadwork and jewelry artist Carolyn Chumwalooky for an in-depth introduction to the intricate art of beading. This hands-on workshop will lead participants through the process of creating a beaded keychain to take home. Registration is free and required. Supplies and refreshments will be provided. For more information, call the museum at 479-273-2456 or visit <a href="http://www.momah.us" target="_blank">www.momah.us</a>.
BY STAFF REPORTS
05/04/2018 04:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH – According to a Cherokee Nation press release, the tribe has started interior renovations of the Cherokee National Capitol building that are expected to help prepare it to serve as a museum in future years. “We are beginning the interior restoration of our most iconic building,” Principal Chief Bill John Baker said. “Because so much critical history has happened on those premises, it’s important we take the proper steps to ensure its preservation for future generations. This historic structure will soon begin a new chapter as a museum that will educate Cherokees and visitors alike about the powerful and inspiring story of the Cherokee people.” According to CN Communications, Cherokee Nation Businesses is funding the project and Cherokee Nation Cultural Tourism is managing it. Officials said the estimated budget for renovations is $2.3 million. The project consists of plaster restoration, new public restrooms, new flooring, a new geothermal HVAC system and the addition of an elevator and second stairwell, the release states. “Preservation projects are one of the most rewarding investments we can make,” CNB CEO Shawn Slaton said. “Once renovations are complete, this iconic building will serve as a museum and further expand the tribe’s impressive tourism offerings within the Cherokee Nation.” The release states that Builders Unlimited, a TERO-certified company, is performing the work while being managed by Cherokee Nation Cultural Tourism. Renovations are slated to be complete in early 2019, according to the release. “We’ve had a longstanding commitment to the preservation of our historic sites,” CNB Executive Vice President Chuck Garrett said. “This project, along with the many others we’ve completed, is another way of keeping our history and culture alive and gives us an opportunity to share our Cherokee story with the world.” This is the latest of several preservation projects to take place at the Capitol. In 2013, a replica cupola was constructed to bring the building back to its 1870s appearance. A few years later, the building underwent a masonry restoration in which more than 2,000 bricks were replaced to strengthen the structure. That work also included removing paint from the existing brick to help return the building to its historic look. Additional restoration work throughout the years has included roof repairs with new decking and historic era shingles, restoration of soffits and fascia, a gutter system and updated doors and windows. The Capitol building was built in 1869, and all three branches of the CN government occupied it prior to statehood. The building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is designated a National Landmark.