Act of Union Between Eastern and Western Cherokee, 1838

“Whereas, our fathers have existed as a separate and distinct nation, in the possession and exercise of the essential and appropriate attributes of sovereignty, from a period extending into antiquity, beyond the records and memory of man; and, Whereas, these attributes, with the rights and franchises which they involve, remain still in full force and virtue; as do also the national and social relations of the Cherokee people to each other, and to the body politic, excepting in those particulars which have grown out of the provisions of the treaties of 1817 and 1819, between the United States and the Cherokee Nation, under which a portion of our people removed to this country, and became a separate community; but the force of circumstances have recently compelled the body of the Eastern Cherokee to remove to this country thus bringing together again the two branches of the ancient Cherokee family; it has become essential to the general welfare that a Union should be formed and a system of government matured, adapted to their present condition, and providing equally for the protection of each individual in the enjoyment of all his rights.

     “Wherefore, we, the people composing the Eastern and Western Cherokee Nation, in national convention assembled, by virtue of our original and unalienable rights, do hereby solemnly and mutually agree to form ourselves into one body politic, under the style and title of the ‘Cherokee Nation.’

“In view of the union now formed, and for the purpose of making satisfactory adjustments of all unsettled business which may have arisen before the consummation of this Union, we agree that such business shall be settled according to the provisions of the respective laws under which it originated, and the courts of the Cherokee Nation shall be governed in their decisions accordingly. Also, that the delegation authorized by the Eastern Cherokee to make arrangements with Major General Scott, for their removal to this country, shall continue in charge of that business, with their present powers until it shall be finally closed.

     “And, also, that all rights and titles to public Cherokee lands on the East or West of the river Mississippi, with all other public interests which may have vested in either branch of the Cherokee family, whether inherited from our fathers or derived from .any other source, shall henceforward vest entire and unimpaired in the Cherokee Nation, as constituted by this Union.

     “Given under our hands, at Illinois Camp Ground, this 12th day of July, 1838.
     “By order of the National Convention.

“GEORGE LOWREY, “President of the Eastern Cherokee.

“GEORGE GUESS, his (X) mark, “President of the Western Cherokee. 

“Eastern Cherokee”

“R. Taylor, V. P.
“James Brown, V. P.
“Te-KE-chu-las-kee, V. P.
“George Hicks
“John Benge
“Thomas Foreman
“Archibald Campbell
“Jesse Bushyhead
“Lewis Ross
“Edward Gunter
“Stephen Foreman”
“Daniel McCoy”


“By order of the National Convention.
“John Ross, “Principal Chief, Eastern Cherokee.
“GOING SNAKE, “Speaker of Council.

“Western Cherokee”

“Tobacco Will, V. P.”
“Dave Melton, V. P.”
“John Drew, V. P.”
“James Campbell
“Looney Riley
“Charles Gourd
“Lewis Melton “
“Young Wolfe
“Charles Coody
“Jack Spears
“George Brewer”
“Thomas Candy”
“Mosses Parris”
 “Looney Price
“By order of the National Convention
August 23, 1839
“JOHN Looney’, his (X) mark,
“Acting Principal Chief, Western Cherokee.

“The foregoing instrument was read, considered, and approved by us, this 23d day of August, 1839.

“Aaron Price
“Major Pullum
“Young Elders
“Deer Track
Young Puppy
“Turtle Fields
“The Eagle
“The Crying Buffalo “
After reading the signers you can click here to return to the page you came from. There is a difference in the information contained on these two pages.

     “And a great number of respectable old settlers and late emigrants, too numerous to be copied.”

     It would seem that the adoption of the foregoing “Act of Union” between the Eastern and Western Cherokee might have resulted in an amicable adjustment of their differences and brought about a reunion of the whole Cherokee family, but far from it. On the contrary, it was followed by one of the most bitter contests in the history of the Cherokee Nation.

     In order to understand the situation among the Cherokee at that time, it should be remembered that they were divided into three factions or parties, each party separately petitioning the United States Government for a redress of grievances, and each faction antagonizing the claims of the other two.

     First. The “Old Settlers.” They became dissatisfied with the first treaty, the Hopewell Treaty of 1785, and began to emigrate westward in search of a new country where they would be free from molestation by white settlers. They floated down the Tennessee River on improvised boats, and on down the Ohio and Mississippi to the mouth of the St.. Francis, then in the Spanish province of Louisiana, but now within the limits of the State of Arkansas. Here, upon foreign soil, they settled and began building homes. Numbers of Eastern Cherokee joined the new colony from time to time, until by 1817 their new colony along the Arkansas and White rivers had grown to 2,000 in population. By that time the United States had acquired the Spanish possessions of the Mississippi Valley and made a treaty with the Cherokee who had gone West, confirming their right to the Arkansas lands.

     Adjoining this new settlement on the West were some war-like Osage who began to annoy the newly-arrived Cherokee. The friction between the two tribes increased until 1818, when the Government induced the Osage to surrender possession of a tract of about three million acres which was ceded to the Cherokee, in redemption of the Government’s promise to give them a western outlet without limit. This tract was designated the “Lovely Purchase,” in honor of Major Lovely, the United States Indian agent, who negotiated the transfer. White intruders, however, followed this band of Cherokee to their new home, and allured by the fertile valleys of the Arkansas and White rivers, and by the Treaty of 1828, the Indians were induced to exchange their Arkansas possessions, except about two million acres of the Lovely Purchase which extended beyond the western boundary of Arkansas, for the Indian Territory reservation.

By virtue of these treaties and acts last mentioned the Old Settlers assumed the title of “The Cherokee Nation West,” or “Western Cherokee,” and claimed that those of their tribe remaining in the East had no right to any part of the Indian Territory lands, in other words that the “Cherokee Nation East” and the “Cherokee Nation West,” had become separate and distinct organizations. At this, time the “Old Settlers” or “Western Cherokee” numbered about three thousand, while there were still remaining in the East about seventeen thousand. As the Eastern Cherokee continued to be annoyed by the persistent encroachments of the white people of Georgia and other states, they became divided into two factions, known as the “Treaty Party” and the “Anti-Treaty Party.”

     Second. The Treaty Party, headed by John Ridge and Elias Boudinot, concluded that further opposition to the demands of Georgia and the United States that the Indians surrender their Eastern possessions was useless, and they consented to the Treaty of 1835, which provided for the surrender of the remaining portion of their Eastern-lands, added 800,000 acres to the reservation in Indian Territory and provided for the removal of the Eastern Cherokee to Indian Territory.

     Third. The “Anti-Treaty” Party, headed by John Ross, for many years chief of the Cherokee, fought the New Echota Treaty bitterly, claiming that the parties who signed it on behalf of the Cherokee were not authorized to do so, and that the majority of his people would not consent to it.

     The Treaty Party accepted the situation and joined the “Old Settlers” in Indian Territory, leaving John Ross and his “Antis,” who constituted a majority of the Cherokee people, still contending for their rights in Georgia. The pressure of the United States authorities, combined with the arrogance and intimidation displayed by the authorities of Georgia soon convinced the Ross party that further resistance would result in bloodshed and possibly annihilation, and they reluctantly agreed to go West, John Ross having been given the contract to transport them, at a very remunerative price per head. Upon their arrival at Tahlequah, John Ross, being still in control of a majority of the Cherokee, proceeded to reorganize the tribal government, adopted the “Act of Union” between the Eastern and Western Cherokee, and in September, 1839, adopted a new constitution.

Source: Benedict, John D. Muskogee and northeastern Oklahoma, including the counties of Muskogee, McIntosh, Wagoner, Cherokee, Sequoyah, Adair, Delaware, Mayes, Rogers, Washington, Nowata, Craig, and Ottawa. 3 v. illus., ports., facsims. 28 cm. Chicago, S.J. Clarke Pub. Co., 1922.

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