Who Are We

"The Chickamauga feared that the expansion of the United States spelled doom for the Cherokees and believed that by engaging in war they were protecting their territory the only way they could. After the American Revolution, the majority of Cherokees favored peace and agreed to give up all lands east of the Appalachians. But a small band of warriors, called ‘Chickamauga’, were unwilling to accept a truce and moved their families to northeastern Alabama". (The Cherokee, Perdue, pg.36) "Fighting continued on both sides until 1785, with the most stubborn resistance coming from a recalcitrant group of Cherokees who seceded after the Carolina cession in 1777 and established themselves first on Chickamauga Creek and later on the Lower Tennessee River. These diehards became known as 'The Chickamauga of the Five Lower Towns' and were among the last of the Cherokees to lay down their arms." (Cherokees of the Old South, Malone, pg.10) Hence, the political division between the Cherokee Nation and the Chickamauga Indians occurred as a result of the Carolina land cession and the over-all concern of the Chickamauga was that the end of Cherokee independence was coming. The split, which occurred between the Cherokee Nation and the Chickamauga, was political and represented a fundamental shift in international policy. The Chickamauga favored continued conflict with the United States in an attempt to maintain their land base and independence, where some influential elements of the Cherokee Nation Council had a more conciliatory position. The United States government also recognized the Chickamauga as a separate political entity in the treaty of 1817 (7 Stat. 156) whereas the prologue stated " the establishment of a division line between the upper and lower towns". The Chickamauga people were historically known as the lower town Cherokees.

The two main Chickamauga Chiefs, Dragging Canoe (Tsiyugunsini) son of Attakullakulla and John Watts (Kunokeski) were relatives of Cherokee Nation Principle Chief Moytoy (Amahetai) and may have been advised to leave the Nation so as not to draw the Cherokee Nation's residents farther into a full scale war with the Americans. From 1777, the Chickamauga were not an official part of the governance and policy structure of the Cherokee Nation and through their external military policy, the Chickamauga were an independent Cherokee political entity although not an entity with which the majority of the Cherokee Nation residents were opposed.

There currently exists a community of Cherokee Indians in north Alabama whose national history has been almost erased by the historian's and federal agency's (especially the BIA's) preoccupation with the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma and Eastern Band of North Carolina. The Chickamauga Cherokee of Alabama, located principally in north Alabama are the descendants of the Chickamauga Indians, being those Cherokee who separated themselves politically from the Cherokee Nation in 1777 to establish new towns and a new political relationship with the United States. The Chickamauga Cherokee have survived as an Indian community during a period of time in which the State of Alabama dissolved the legal powers of all Cherokee village Chiefs, thus making Indian government in Alabama functionally illegal. In an act passed in 1832 by the State of Alabama, section six says thusly: All laws, usages, and customs, now used, enjoyed, or practiced, by the Creek and Cherokee nations of Indians, within the limits of this state, contrary to the constitution and laws of this state, are hereby abolished. These acts of blatant discrimination and racism were enforcing until the Davis-Strong Act of 1984.

On the first new moon of spring in the year 2000 at the Kinlock Indian Rock Shelter, the Chickamauga Cherokee of Alabama rekindled the "sacred fire" of this north Alabama community. This was, no doubt, the first time in many years that the Chickamauga Cherokee had observed the festival of "When the grass begins to grow". The Chickamauga Cherokee of Alabama are dedicated to renewing the culture and education of the Chickamauga people.

As we look at the turmoil in the history of the Chickamauga Cherokee, from the signing of the Treaty of Sycamore Shoals on March 17, 1775 to the present, it is not difficult to see that the governments of the United States and the State of Alabama have discriminated against these people, the Chickamauga, time after time. We are not a 501C3 fictitious entity, corporation, because we are the Aniyunwiya, the real people. The Chickamauga Cherokee are a proud people and will not go away. This is the dawning of a new era.