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Pathkiller, (c 1749 to 8 January 1827), was a Cherokee warrior, town chief, and Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation. He also served as a colonel under Andrew Jackson in the Tennessee militia during the Creek War.

Warrior Life[edit | edit source]

Pathkiller (with some backing by Britain) fought against the Overmountain Men and American Wataugan frontiersmen settled in the Washington District at the outbreak of the American Revolutionary War. Afterward, he joined with Dragging Canoe and the Chickamauga Cherokee faction fighting in the Chickamauga Wars, until the conclusion of hostilities in 1794. Pathkiller fought for Morgan's "Regiment of Cherokees" commanded by Colonel Gideon Morgan against the Red Stick Indian uprising during the Creek War (7 October 1813—11 April 1814), a frontier extension of the War of 1812.[1]

Cherokee national leader[edit | edit source]

Pathkiller was the last hereditary chief of the Cherokee. A full-blooded Native American, he was the Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation (from 1811–1827).[2] An interesting picture of Cherokee Council sessions was given by the missionary, Ard Hoyt, on the occasion of his visit to the seat of Cherokee government in October, 1818:

"On entering, I observed the King [Path Killer] seated on a rug, at one end of the room, having his back supported by a roll of blankets. He is a venerable looking man, 73 years old; his hair nearly white. At his right hand, on one end of the same rug or mat, sat brother Hicks. The chiefs were seated in chairs, in a semicircle, each facing the king. Behind the chiefs a number of the common people were standing listening to a conversation, in which the king and chiefs were engaged."

After 1813, the de facto authority in the Cherokee Nation had shifted to Charles R. Hicks, who was the first chief of partial European descent. Pathkiller remained chief (in title only) through 1827, a figurehead. Pathkiller and Hicks both were mentors to John Ross, having identified the talented young mixed-blood Cherokee of Scots-Irish descent as the future leader of the Cherokee people. After the tribe formed a constitutional republic, Ross was elected principal chief in 1828.[2]

Burial sites[edit | edit source]

File:Pathkiller Tomb.JPG

One possible burial site of Pathkiller, in New Echota Cemetery

There is a gravesite marked for chief Pathfinder (died 8 January 1827)[3] in the woods just outside the fenced Garrett family cemetery (at the former location of Garrett's Ferry) next to the Coosa River in the town of Centre (near the former Turkeytown, where he was chief), in Cherokee County, northeast Alabama.[4][5]

There is also a table-tomb burial site for Col. Pathkiller (died 1827) located in the present day Calhoun, Georgia area, at the site of the old Cherokee town of New Echota.[4]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Frank Owsley; "Struggle for the Gulf Borderlands: The Creek War and the Battle of New Orleans, 1812–1815"; Gainesville, FL; University Presses of Florida; 1981; pp. 64-67.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Arrell Morgan Gibson, Oklahoma, A History of Five Centuries, University of Oklahoma Press, 1981, p. 65
  3. History of Hamilton Co. TN", Vol. 1, by Zella Armstrong (in the records of St. Clair, AL, page 30)
  4. 4.0 4.1 Pathkiller's Two Burial Sites
  5. Mrs. Frank Ross Stewart; "Cherokee County History 1836-1956", Volume 1; Centre, Alabama; 1958; p 206.
Preceded by
Black Fox (chief)
Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation
Succeeded by
Charles R. Hicks

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