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Southern Cherokee Nation of Kentucky

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The Cherokee speak a Southern Iroquoian language, which is polysynthetic. Its syllabary, invented by Sequoyah (ᏍᏏᏉᏯ), is pictured in the order that he originally arranged the characters[1]

The Southern Cherokee Nation of Kentucky are descended from "half blood" or "mixed-blood" Cherokee.

The Southern Cherokee have gone by many names: They were originally known as the Overhill Cherokee (WP), Chickamauga (WP) Cherokee, the Treaty Party, and during the American Civil War they became known as Southern Cherokee, Southern Cherokee Nation, and finally the Southern Cherokee Nation of Kentucky.

The Treaty Party Cherokee signed the Treaty of New Echota (WP); the Treaty of New Echota was rejected by most of the Cherokee Nation and the primary signatories of the treaty were subsequently assassinated.[2][3] Despite objections to the terms of the treaty, the US Government enforced the Indian Removal Act (WP) of 1830. The removal came to be known as the "Trail of Tears" by the Cherokee, and was one of many US policies and actions with respect to indigenous Americans asserted to be genocide by historians.[4]


The 1835 Treaty of New Echota with the US Government exchanged much of the sovereign Cherokee territory in the southern Wikipedia:Appalachian Mountains in exchange for lands in northeastern Wikipedia:Oklahoma.

The Treaty of New Echota and the Cherokee themselves were caught in the middle of pre-Civil War politics. The Southern states, eager to claim Indian lands, had tried already in Georgia to remove Indians from their lands, but been stopped by the Supreme Court, and removal had become a states' rights issue. President Andrew Jackson felt the removals of negligible consideration next to the preservation of the Union. The treaty was rejected by many Cherokee, but the cause of the southern states had influenced the Southern Cherokee.[2][3] The Original Keetoowah Society, a secret organization of Pin Cherokee formed by a Christian missionary, and controlled by John Ross Principle Chief of the Cherokee Nation, was one such faction. Confederate Brigadier General Albert Pike wrote in 1861 that the Pin organization “was established by Evan Jones, a missionary, and at the service of Mr. John Ross, for the purpose of abolitionizing the Cherokees and putting out of the way all who sympathized with the Southern States.” [2][3] The primary signatories of the Treaty of New Echota were assassinated by the Original Keetoowah Society to satisfy their obligations to the tribe, Ross, and their opposition to the southern states.[2][3]

Despite objections to the terms of the treaty by other Cherokee, US Government enforced the Indian Removal Act of 1830 in what came to be known as the "Trail of Tears". An estimated 4'000 of 15'000 died during this enforced removal to Indian Territory. Most of those who had accepted the Treaty fought on the side of the Confederate States of America in the American Civil War. Ironically, at the end of the war many of the "Southern Cherokee" intermarried with "Freedmen", former Afro-American slaves that were also removed on the Trail of Tears. Subsequent warring between the Pin Cherokee and the "Southern Cherokee", and the death of Confederate Brigadier General Wikipedia:Stand Watie in 1871, resulted in the fleeing of Southern Cherokee refugees across several States which included Kentucky.


The Southern Cherokee Nation of Kentucky is a tribe now headquartered in Henderson, Kentucky, which is situated on the high banks of the Ohio River in an area once known as Red Banks by Native Americans.

The Southern Cherokee Nation of Kentucky claims to have an estimated one thousand members as of 2009, living in several US states.[5] Representatives of the S.C.N.K. have said they are not affiliated with the Southern Cherokee, a similarly named but unrecognized, group from Oklahoma.[6]


The Kentucky Court of Justice published a newsletter in August of 2010 that states: "While there are no federally recognized tribes, Kentucky does recognize two tribes at the state level. The Southern Cherokee Nation of Kentucky was first recognized via proclamation by Governor John Y. Brown in 1893 and again by Governor Fletcher on November 20, 2006...".[7]


This tribe was recognized by Governor John Young Brown on December 26, 1893, and then by Governor Ernie Fletcher, via proclamation, on November 20, 2006. The city of Henderson, Kentucky also issued a proclamation recognizing the Southern Cherokee Nation of Kentucky on February 24, 2009.[5][8][9][10][11].[7]

The state of Kentucky does recognizes the Southern Cherokee Nation of kentucky at he state level based on an Executive letter from John Y. Brown in 1893, and a proclamation from Governor Earnie Fletcher in 2006.[7] However, barriers are still seen by some as standing in the way of more formal legislative recognition. That this is the case is borne out in the fact that Rep. Reginald Meeks, D-Louisville, currently has a bill (HB 44) in the state house to establish a process to grant state recognition to groups claiming to be tribes within the state, filed in November 2010. Rep. Meeks has filed the same bill in the Kentucky house twice before and seen it passed there, only to see it die in commitee at the Senate.[12][13]


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See also[edit]


  1. Morand, Ann, Kevin Smith, Daniel C. Swan, and Sarah Erwin. Treasures of Gilcrease: Selections from the Permanent Collection. Tulsa, OK: Gilcrease Museum,2003. ISBN 097256571X
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 The Civil War in the Indian Territory 1861,Volume 17, No. 3, p. 325 September, 1939 Dean Trickett, Chronicals of Oklahoma, Oklahoma Historical Society
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 The Keetoowah Society and the Avocation of Religious Nationalism in the Cherokee Nation, 1855-1867, Between Two Fires, Chapter Three, U.S. Data Repository
  4. Genocide and international justice, Rebecca Joyce Frey, page 46
  5. 5.0 5.1 "Henderson recognizes Southern Cherokee Nation." State Journal. 25 Feb 2009. Retrieved 25 Jan 2011.
  6. Glenn, Eddie. "A League of Nations?" Tahlequah Daily Press. 6 Jan 2006. Retrieved 25 Jan 2011.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 National Indian Child Welfare Association (NICWA) and its implications in Kentucky., updated 9-2-2010.
  8. Photos taken of display cases located at "The Depot" in downtown Henderson, Kentucky
  9. Indian Child Welfare Act Compliance Desk Aid For Kentucky Child Welfare Workers, Facts: Two State Recognized Tribes, Cabinet for Health and Family Services
  10. 500 Nations"State Recognized tribes"
  11. USA.GOV "Tribal Governments"
  12. In Depth: Lawmaker Pushing For Native American Recognition Tony McVeigh November 18, 2010
  13. Native Americans Seek State Recognition, Tony McVeigh, Kentucky Public Radio, Capitol Bureau

External links[edit]