Important Dates in Cherokee History

1540: The Spanish explorer Hernando De Soto and his party are the first whites seen by the Cherokees.

1673: The first traders from English settlements begin trading among the Cherokees.

1721: The Charleston Treaty with the Governor of the Carolinas is thought to be the first concession of Cherokee land.

1785: Treaty of Hopewell is first treaty between U.S. and Cherokees.

1791: Treaty of Holston signed. Includes call for U.S. to advance "civilization" of 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 government there. In 1828 they are forced to move into Indian Territory.

1821: Sequoyah's Cherokee syllabary completed; quickly leads to almost total literacy among Cherokees.

1822: Cherokee Supreme Court established. 1824: First written law of the Western Cherokee.

1825: New Echota, GA, authorized as Cherokee capital.

1827: Modern Cherokee Nation begins with Cherokee Constitution established by 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: U.S. Supreme Court decision in Worcester V. 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. U.S. 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 until 1846. New constitution ratified at convention uniting Cherokees arriving from east with those in the west.

1844: Cherokee Supreme Court building opens; Cherokee Advocate becomes first newspaper in Indian Territory.

1851: Cherokee Male and Female Seminaries open. Female Seminary is first secondary school for iris west of Mississippi River.

The printing office of the Cherokee Advocate, Tahlequah, I.T., Capt. N.J.. Starr and Walter Namman, Advocate employees, are pictured.

1859: Original Keetoowah Society organized to maintain tradition 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 Confederate government. Cherokee Nation torn by border warfare throughout the Civil War.

1865- Cherokees must negotiate peace with U.S. government.

1866: New treaty limits tribal land rights, eliminates possibility of Cherokee state and is prelude to Dawes Commission. John Ross dies.

1857: General Allotment Act passed; requires individual ownership of lands once held in common by Indian tribes.

Tahlequah's opera house was used for sessions of the U.S. Court when ft met in Tahlequah.

1889: Unassigned lands in Indian Territory opened by white settlers known as "boomers."

1890: Oklahoma Territory organized out of western half of Indian Territory.

1893: Cherokee Outlet opened for white settlement. 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 elected Cherokee chief, dies.

1934: Indian Reorganization Act established land base for tribes and legal structure for self-government.

1948: Chief J.B. Milam calls Cherokee Convention; beginning of modern tribal government of Cherokee Nation.

1949: W.W. Bill Keeler appointed chief by President Harry Truman.

1957: First Cherokee National Holiday.

1961: Cherokees awarded $15 million by U.S. Claims Commission for Cherokee Outlet lands.

1963: Cherokee National Historical Society founded. Later CNHS opens ancient village, 1967; Trail of Tears drama, 1969, and museum, 1975.

1967: Cherokee Foundation formed to purchase land on which 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.

1985: Ross Swimmer appointed by President Reagan as Assistant Secretary of the Department of Interior. Resigns to head BIA.

1987: Wilma Mankiller makes history and draws international attention to her tribe as the first woman elected its chief; Cherokee voters pass constitutional amendment to elect council by districts in 1991.

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 bi-annually.

1988: Cherokee Nation joins Eastern Band in Cherokee, NC to commemorate beginning of Trail of Tears.

1989: Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma observes 150th anniversary of arrival in Indian Territory. 'A New Beginning" finds the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma the second largest Indian tribe in the U.S. with nearly 95,000 members. Considered among the most progressive tribes, its government has an annual operating budget of $52 million, administers$24 million annually in services for the Cherokee people, has an annual payroll of $13 million and $29.5 million in assets,

Tahlequah Daily Pictorial Press

et 9-2006

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This page last updated: 12/01/2010
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