Albert Bender: Cherokee war chief Dragging Canoe was a true hero

Albert Bender. Photo from U. S. Army Corps of Engineers / Flickr

Albert Bender, a member of the Cherokee Nation, shares the history of Dragging Canoe, a Cherokee war chief who fought to protect his tribe's homelands in the late 1700s:
This iconic Indian leader was pivotal in the early history of Nashville. He first came to light on the stage of American history at the Treaty of Sycamore Shoals in 1775, which he vehemently opposed. The purpose of this infamous treaty was to transfer 20 million acres of land, , including all of what is now the state of Kentucky and present-day Middle Tennessee, from the Cherokee Nation to white settlers. Dragging Canoe said they would find its settlement “dark and bloody.”

The so-called treaty was controversial in itself. The official Cherokee leadership subsequently repudiated it, contending that they thought permission was only being granted for grazing rights and that the trade goods allegedly given for the land purchase were payment for damages Cherokees had suffered at the hands of white marauders.

The long and bloody 18-year Cherokee war began in July 1776, with battles between the invading settlers and Cherokee forces led by Dragging Canoe. The war chief had said, in sadness and anger, that the colonists had “surrounded us, leaving only a little spot of ground to stand upon, and it seems to be their intention to destroy us as a Nation.”

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Albert Bender: Dragging Canoe: A true American Indian hero​ (The Tennessean 3/16)

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