THE CHEROKEES| JACKSON| CALHOUN | ELIZA ALLEN
Chief Oolooteka was the leader of the Cherokee people who lived on
Hiwasee Island, located about 50 miles southwest of Maryville, Tennessee.
Considered one of the Five Civilized Tribes, the Cherokee culture
emphasized openness and flexibility. Their society was egalitarian;
a class system did not exist and women were treated as equals. In
an attempt to coexist with the white frontiersmen who settled on
their boundaries, the Cherokees adopted the ways of the whites more
readily than any other tribe in North America. In fact, the Cherokees
fought beside the white Americans during the Creek War (1813-14),
and by 1821, due to the efforts of Sequoyah, the Cherokees had their
own written language.
By the beginning of the 19th Century, most Cherokees lived a settled
existence as farmers and hunters in some sixty or seventy loosely
formed bands, each with its own chief. When Sam Houston came to live
with Chief Oolooteka and his tribe, the town was populated by 82
men, 98 women, 66 horses, 170 head cattle, 242 hogs, and 32 spinning
wheels. The Cherokees lived in "wigwams," although tribal
leaders like Chief Oolooteka usually had a two-story frame house.
Slaveholding was common among the wealthy Cherokees.
Many Cherokees intermarried with whites and it was common to have
two names—a Cherokee name and an English name. The Chief's
English name was John Jolly and his Cherokee name, Oo-loo-te-ka,
who puts away the drum," a testament to a leader who sought
reconciliation and peace rather than war. The Chief usually dressed
in buckskin with a hunting shirt, leggings and moccasins and he did
not speak English.
Chief Oolooteka and his people eventually immigrated west to Arkansas
Territory in 1818, after being forced to leave their homeland by
a treaty that was suspiciously obtained. The Chief died in 1838.
Randolph B. Campbell, Sam
Houston and the American Southwest, ed.
Oscar Handlin (New York: Harper Collins, 1993).
The Cherokee Nation, accessed June, 2003.
About North Georgia, accessed June, 2003.
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