As tribes acquired firearms from Europeans and used them against neighboring tribes, a weaponry race began. Tribes accelerated trade to acquire firearms for military purposes. Initially the guns were purchased with furs and skins. The south carolina colony, established in 1670, waas encouraging the tribes to trade their native american prisoners of war which were then sold into slavery. In 1705, there were complaints from North Carolina that the south carolina governor's trade in native american slaves had so angered the tribes that an indian war was inevitable. Several tibes, including the cherokee, assisted colonist in drivng out their mutual enemy, the Tuscarora, in a war that lasted from 1711-1713. However with the Tuscarora out of the way, the tribes begin to addres their grievances with the colonist.. primarily the sale of Native Americans into slavery despite agreements to discontinue this practice.
The result was a war, in 1715, in which the combined tribes in the region threatened to wipe out the south carolina colony, ultimately, the colonists were able to mass their force and after achieving several victories the tribes begand to sue for peace. Peace was made with the cherokee who were given a large quantity of guns and ammunition in exchange for their alliance with the colony. In 1721, a treaty was signed with south carolina to systematize trade but the most significant condition was the estaablishment of a fixed boundry between the cherokee and the colony which was the first land cesion made by the cherokee to the europeans. The population of the Cherokee Nation was probrably 16,000-17,000 including 6,000 warriors. Although allied with the english, the cherokee began to favor the french who had estblished fort toulouse near present montgomery AL. The french showed greater respect for the indians than the british who considered them an inferior race.
To prevent a cherokee alliance with the french Sir Alexander Cuming visited the prominent cherokee towns and convinced the cherokee to select an emperor chief Moytoy of Tellico, to represent the tribe in all dealings with the british, in addition, he escorted seven cherokees to england who met with the king and swore allegiance to the crown. A treaty was signed obligating the cherokee to trade only with the british, return all runaway slaves, and to expel all non english whites from their territory, In return, the cherokee recieved a substantial amount of guns, ammunition, and red paint. Although the seven cherokee who made the trip were presented to the king as chiefs only one could be considered a prominent cherokee--the others being young men who went only for adventure. the chiefs of the tribe declined due to their responsibilities for hunting and defense, however, one of the young men was Attacullakulla, known as
About 1738, small pox, brought to carolina by slave ships, broke out amoung the cherokee with such terrible efffect that nearly half the tribe died from the disease within a year. Native Americans had never been exposed to many european diseases and had no immunity to them. To make matters worse, the traditional cherokee rememdy for serious illnessess of plunging into a cold stream was the worst possible treatment. James Adair, an english teacher who lived amound the cherokee for 40 years, reported the cherokee were so proud of their physical appearance that when they saw their disfigurement from the disease many warriors committed suicide. Some shot themselves, others cut their throats, some stabbed themselves with knives and others with sharp pointed canes, many threw themselves with sullen maddness into the fire and there slowly expired, as if they had been utterly divested of the native power of feeling pain.
The small pox epedemic was also devestating to cherokee religious tradition. cherokee priest, unable to cure the disease, fell from favor. the priest felt that the tribe was being punished for adopting the white mans ways and discarded their now powerless sared objects. The cherokee were constantly at war with neighboring tribes. In 1715, they drowe the shawnee northward out of the cumberland river region. they continued their hereditary war with the creeks (Muscogee). they fought eleven year war with the chickasaw until they were ultimately defeated in 1768.. When the seven years war (french and indian war) began the cherokee would have sided with the french except for their dependance on trade with the english. Lieutenant Henry Timberlake, a young virginian officer who visited the cherokee a few years later gave the reasons for their fondness in french.
Atreaty was signed in 1754 reaffirming the cherokee alliance with the english and , besides the usual stipulation of land cessions, provided for british forts in the cherokee country. In spite of the treaty, the cherokee were obviously in contact with the french and perhaps participated with other french allied tribes in raids against the british colonist. About 100 cherokee accompanied a british expedition that was intended to attack the french allied shawnee but the campaign was abandoned when their provisions were lost while attempting to cross a swollen river. the cherokee began home on foot in starving condition angered at the contempt and neglect they experienced from the britsh, they confiscated some free roaming horses belonging to virginia colonists, feeling fully justified considering their service to the ungrateful colonists, the colonist, however attacked the cherokee killing over twenty of them. the cherokee dead were mutilated and scalped and the scalps redeemed for bounty as provided by virginia law.
The chiefs of the nation attempted to negotiate restitution with the colonist but the young warriors were so incense that they began reainding border settlements. the colonist declared war, cut off all trade, and demanded that numerous chiefs be surrendered for execution. thirty two prominent cherokee, including the famous war chief Oconostota, went to fort prince george in south carolina, to attempt to negotiate peace but the british took the whole party prisoner. chief attacullakulla, the little carpenter, was able to negotiate the release of oconostota and two others while the remaining twenty nine chiefs remain captive.
Angered at the tactics of the british, oconostota laid siege to fort prince george. the commander of the fort was called out to speak to oconostota but when he came out he was shot and killed. the garrison of the fort immediately killed their twenty nine captives. with war now in full swing, oconostotas warriors begin raiding the carolina settlements while other cherokees laid siege to fort loudoun in what is now eastern tennessee. a force of 1,600 colonials drove the cherokees back and destroyed numerous towns. the cherokee, however, massed a large force and in june of 1760 forced the colonists to retrieve leaving fort loudoun under siege.
Fort loudoun surrendered to oconostota in august on the condition that they would be allowed safe passage with suffficient arms and ammunition for the march home but delievering all other weapons and ammunition to the cherokee. when they ocupied the fort, the cherokee discovered that powder, balls (bullets) and cannon had been buried or thrown into the river. angered at the former garrisons deception, the cherokess attacked the soldiers the next morning killing 29 in the first villey and taking the remainder prisoner until the were later ransomed by the colony.
the colonist demanded revenge and despite attempts for peace by attacullakulla, sent an 2,600 man force in 1761 wheich destroyed 15 cherokee towns and pushed the frontier seventy miles farther to the west though incurring heavy losses in the process. Attacullakulla was able to nigotiate a treaty with the south carolina colony in september of 1761.
In November of the same year, a force of virginians who had descended as far a present kingsport TN were met by a delegation of cherokees and a treaty was signed. In addition. Lt Henry Timberlake volunteered to return with the cherokee and lived with them for several months. timberlake later took a delegation of chiefs to england but, since the trip was not authorized by the government, they were practically ignored and returned disgusted.
By the time france and england made peace in 1763 the tribes throughout the region had been devastated by warfare, loss of crops and orchards and another small pox epidemic. immigrants began to flood across the mountains, numerous treaties were signed, each relinquishing more land to the whites, in an attempt to fix a permanent border but all were ignored by the settlers. the most significant treaty wa the Henderson Purchase in 1775 which ceded lands north of the cumberland river and inclued most of what is now kentucky, a factioin of the tribe, the chickamaugas, refused to honor the treating and kept up constand raiding of settlements in this region through the run of century.
every treaty was essentially forced upon the cherokee and only signed because they were assured that no further cesions would be demanded. the typical pattern was tha t settlers would move onto cherokee land and refuse to leave. In spite of cherokee raids resulting in numerous deaths, the settlers continued to arrive. thought the colonial governments promised to prevent the intrusions , this was never done. local militia were reaise to protect against cherokee raids and eventually the cherokee were forced to cede the land in another treaty.
It is no wonder that the cherokee, infuriated and frustrated in their dealings with the colonists, chose to side with the british in the revoulutionary war. the british government had continued to trade with the cherokee. british indian agents and traders had married into the tribe and were raising families there. the british began to heavily supply arms and ammunition and even offered bounties for scalps of colonists as early as 1775.
While initially successful in striking numerous devastating blows to the frountier settlements, large expeditioins of colonial forces began to destroy cherokee towns. reports of the expeditions said that practically every cherokee man or woman encountered was either killed and scalped or sole into slavery. over 50 towns were burned and all crops and livestock taken and distroyed. a peace treaty was sighned in 1777 which ceded nearly all of south carolina to the colonists and much of north and eastern tennessee.
The end of the revolutionary war brought an end to british aid, however, a new european power was anxious to expand its claims in North America--Spanish, with france and england out of the way, spain began to encourage the chickamaugas to continue their raids on the colonists. not much encouragement was needed, however, because settlers were continuing to flood across threaty boundries onto cherokee land.
Old tassel had assumed responsibilities of chief upon the deaths of Attacullakulla in 1780 and Oconostota in 1782. a new era was beinginning for the cherokee. the cherokee had a new nation to contend with--the united states. Old tassels first order for business was another futile attempt to stop the intrusions onto cherokee land.