Research: Important Dates In Cherokee History

Please note that some articles have been transferred over from the Old Word Museum site. You may occasionally encounter broken links or outdated information in these articles.

Written by: Julie Farrow
Date: 2002

* 1540 – The Spanish Explorer, Hernando De Soto and his party are the first whites seen by the Cherokees.


* 1629 – The first traders from the English settlements began trading among the



* 1721 – The Cherokee Treaty with the Governor of the Carolinas is thought to be the first consession of land.


* 1785 – Treaty of Hopewell is the first treaty between the U.S. and the Cherokees.


* 1791 – Treaty of Holston signed. Includes a call for the U.S. to advance civilization of the Cherokees by giving them farm tools and technical advice.


* 1802 – Jefferson signs Georgia Compact.


* 1817 – Treaty makes exchange for land in Arkansas. Old Settlers begin voluntary migration and establish a government there. In 1828, they are forced to move into Indian territory.


* 1821 – Sequoyah’s Cherokee Syllarary completed, quickly leads to almost total

literacy among the Cherokees.


* 1822 – Cherokee’s Supreme Court established.


* 1824 – First written law of Western Cherokees.


* 1825 – New Echota, GA authorized as Cherokee capital.


* 1827 – Modern Cherokee Nation begins with Cherokee Constitution established by a convention; John Ross elected chief.


* 1828 – Cherokee Phoenix published in English and Cherokee, Andrew Jackson

elected President. Gold discovered in Georgia.


* 1828-1830 – Georgia Legislature abolishes tribal government and expands authority over Cherokee country.


* 1832 – US Supreme Court decision Worcester vs Georgia establishes tribal

sovereignty, protects Cherokees from Georgia laws. Jackson won’t enforce decision and Georgia holds lottery for Cherokee lands.


* 1835 – Treaty Party signs Treaty of New Echota, giving up title to all Cherokee lands in southeast in exchange for land in Indian Territory (now Oklahoma).


* 1838-1839 – Trail of Tears. US Government’s forced removal of 17,000 Cherokees, in defiance of Supreme Court decision. More than 4,000 die from exposure and disease along the way.


* 1839 – Assassination of Treaty Party leaders, Major Ridge, John Ridge, and Elias Boudinot for breaking pact not to sign Treaty of New Echota. Factionalism

continues untol 1846. New constitution ratified at convention uniting Cherokees arriving from the east with those in the west.


* 1844 – Cherokee Supreme Court building opens; Cherokee Advocate becomes the first newspaper in Indian territory.


* 1851 – Cherokee male and female seminaries open. Female seminary is the first secondary school for girls west of the Mississippi.


* 1859 – Original Keetoowah Society orgainzed to maintain traditions and fight slavery.


* 1860 – Tension mounts between Union Cherokees and Confederate Cherokees. Civil War begins.


* 1861 – Treaty signed at Park Hill between Cherokee Nation and the Confederate

government. Cherokee Nation torn by border warfare throughout the Civil War.


* 1865-1866 – Cherokee must negotiate peace with the U.S. Government. New treaty limits tribal land rights, eliminates possibility of Cherokee State and is prelude to Dawes Commission. John Ross dies.


* 1887 – General Allotment Act passed, requires individual owership of lands once held in common by Indian tribes.


* 1889 – Unassigned lands in Indian Territory opened by white settlers known as



* 1890 – Oklahoma Territory orgainzed out of western half of Indian Territory.


* 1893 – Cherokee Outlet opened for white settlers. Dawes Commission arrives.


* 1898 – Curtis Act passed abolishing tribal courts.


* 1903 – W.C. Rogers becomes last elected chief for 69 years.


* 1905 – Land allotment begins after official roll taken of Cherokees.


* 1907 – Oklahoma statehood combines Indian and Oklahoma Territories and dissolves tribal government.


* 1917 – William C. Rogers, the last Cherokee Chief, dies.


* 1934 – Indian Reorganization Act established a landbase for tribes and legal structure for self government.


* 1948 – Chief J.B. Milam calls Cherokee Convention; beginning of model tribal government of the Cherokee Nation.


* 1949 – W.W. Bill Keeler appointed chief by President Harry Truman.


* 1957 – First Cherokee National Holiday.



* 1961 – Cherokees awarded 15 million dollars by the US claims Commission for

Cherokee Outlet Lands.


* 1963 – Cherokee National Historical Society founded. CNHS opens Ancient Village, 1967; Trail of Tears Drama, 1969, and museum, 1975.


* 1967 – Cherokee Foundation formed to purchase land on which the tribal complex now sits.


* 1970 – U.S. Supreme Court ruling confirms Cherokee Nation ownership of bed and banks of 96 mile segment of Arkansas Riverbed.


* 1971 – W.W. Keeler becomes first elected principal chief since statehood.


* 1975 – Ross O. Swimmer elected to first of three terms as principal chief. First

Cherokee Tribal Council elected. Congress passes Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act.


* 1976 – Cherokee voters ratify new Constitution outlining tribal government.


* 1979 – Tribal offices moved into modern new complex South of Tahlequah.


* 1984 – First joint council meeting in 146 years between Eastern Band of Cherokees and Cherokee Nation held at Red Clay, TN. Council meetings now held



* 1987 – Wilma Mankiller makes history and draws international attention to tribe as first woman elected chief, Cherokee voters pass constitution amendment to

elect council by districts in 1991.


* 1988 – Cherokee Nation joins Eastern Band in Cherokee, NC to commemorate

beginning of The Trail of Tears.


* 1989 – The Cherokee Nation observes 150th anniversary of arrival in Indian Territory. “A New Beginning.”


* 1990 – Chief Mankiller signs the historic self-government agreement, making the

Cherokee Nation one of six tribes to participate in the self-determination project. The project, which ran for three years beginning Oct. 1, 1990, authorized the tribe to assume tribal responsibility for BIA funds which were formerly being spent on the tribe’s behalf at the agency, area and central office levels.


* 1991 – In the July tribal election the first council to be elected by districts since

statehood and Wilma Mankiller won second elected term as principal chief

with a landslide 82% of the votes cast.


* 1995 – Joe Byrd and Garland Eagle elected principal chief and deputy chief which marks the first time in nearly 200 years that full blood bilingual leaders occupy the top positions of the Cherokee Nation.

Lori Soard started Word Museum in 1997. She’s a published author and has written thousands of articles over the years for newspapers, magazines and online. She has a PhD in Journalism and lives in Southern Indiana with her husband. They have two grown daughters, both animal lovers their house is always filled with pets.

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