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Extended History (2 of 4)

 

Five years later, in June of 1839, 25 members of the Ross Party, brutally assassinated John Ridge at his home in Honey Springs, Indian Territory (now Oklahoma). The Ross group in charge of assassinating the leaders of the Ridge Party also killed John Ridge's father, Chief Major Ridge and his cousin Elias Boudinot (Buck Watie) the same day in other locations. The remainder of the Ridge family as well as many members of the Ridge Band, fearing for their lives, left the Cherokee Nation.



Stand Watie


The bitter feud between the Ross Party and the Ridge or Treaty Party escalated into open warfare. Ridge's son John Rollin Ridge, shot a man that had been sent to execute Ridge. John Rollin Ridge then moved to California to escape the gallows administered by the Ross Party. Ridge's cousin Stand Watie (Boudinot's brother), later became the highest decorated Brigadier General of the Confederacy, the last Confederate General, and the First Chief of the Southern Cherokee Nation.

Immediately prior to the civil war, many full-blood members of the Ross Party organized the "Pin" society for the purpose of depriving all mixed-bloods from all political power within the Cherokee Nation. A Missionary named "Rev. Evan Jones" that had been among the Cherokee for more than 40 years became a force in establishing the "PIN" society as an instrument for disseminating Pro-Federalist Politics. The Ridge Band, led by Stand Watie, organized secret societies such as the "Knights of the Golden Circle" that opposed the Pins.

In spite of the feuding Bands, the leadership of John Ross and Stand Watie United in supporting the South in the early part of the Civil War. In August, 1861 John Ross called a convention in Tahlequah in which Ross gave Free-Expression to his views stating that the Confederacy was the best thing for the Cherokees and that an alliance should be secured with the South without delay; that as for Ross, he was and always had been a Southern man, a States Rights man; born in the South, and a Slaveholder; that the South was fighting for its rights against the oppressions of the North and that the True position of the Indians was with the Southern people (a statement that he later denied to the US govt). After Ross's influential speech, four thousand male Cherokees adopted without a dissenting voice, a resolution to abandon Cherokee relations with the United States and form an alliance with the Confederacy. Following the Battle of Pea Ridge, in which Colonel Drew led a regiment of pro-Ross Cherokee soldiers for the Confederacy and Stand Watie led a regiment of anti-Ross Cherokee for the Confederacy, Colonel Weir of the United States Army sent a proposition to John Ross urging that the Cherokees should repudiate their treaty with the Confederacy and return to their former relations with the U.S, offering Safe conduct to Ross. Ross declined peremptorily declaring that the Cherokees disdained an alliance with a people who had authorized and practiced the monstrous barbarities in violation of the laws of war; that the Cherokees were bound to the Confederate States by the faith of Treaty obligations and by a community of sentiment and interest; that they were born upon the soil of the South and would stand or fall with the States of the South.

Col. Drew's poorly supplied Regiment abandoned the Confederate service after 10 months and enlisted with the United States Army. About that same time, Chief Ross decided to leave the Cherokee Nation and moved to Philadelphia where he remained for the duration of the War. Stand Watie then became the Elected Chief of the Cherokee Nation. As a leader in battle, Stand Watie burned Chief Ross's home in the Cherokee Nation (now Oklahoma).

 

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