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
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
1827: Modern Cherokee Nation begins
with Cherokee Constitution established by convention; John Ross elected
1828: Cherokee Phoenix published in
English and Cherokee; Andrew Jackson elected president; gold discovered in
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
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
The printing office of the Cherokee Advocate,
Tahlequah, I.T., Capt. N.J.. Starr and Walter Namman, Advocate employees,
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
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
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