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Anthology of Articles: the John Ross Papers Collection

John Ross (1790-1866) was Principal Chief of the Cherokee during the most critical time in Cherokee history - the Cherokee Removal Period and the establishment of the Cherokee Nation. Gilcrease Museum is proud to be the home of the John Ross Papers, a collection of rare documents spanning over 11 linear feet of shelving space and comprised of more than 2,000 documents. This unique collection contains the personal correspondence of Principal Chief John Ross, his proclamation as Chief of the Cherokee Tribe, legal papers, records, accounts, lists of names, and rations allocated during the Cherokee people’s forced removal from Tennessee to Indian Territory. Papers of the Cherokee Council, petitions and protests to Congress, and papers relating to the East and West Cherokee controversy and the Civil War are also part of the John Ross Papers. Items of particular interest include papers related to the various detachments of Cherokees being removed from their homes in the East. One such paper is the Muster Roll of Captain John Benge’s Detachment of Emigrating Cherokees. Another document records payments for services rendered for each of the detachments and the costs for which the U.S. Government promised reimbursements. The John Ross Papers holds volumes of knowledge and insights about the history of the Cherokee period during some of most turbulent periods in Cherokee history.

See all items in the online John Ross Papers Collection / John Ross Papers Finding Aid

The Life and Times of Principal Chief John Ross

John Ross (1790–1866) was the longest-serving principal chief in the history of the Cherokee Nation, leading the Nation from 1828 to 1866, thirty-eight years. His tenure encompassed the struggle by the Cherokee against forced removal from their original homeland, internal violence due to post-removal factionalism, the unification and rebuilding of the Cherokee Nation in Indian Territory, and the American Civil War. All these, as well as the chief ’s family life, are chronicled in the eleven linear feet of the John Ross Papers in the Gilcrease collection...

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Muster Rolls from the John Ross Papers

After the Treaty of New Echota was signed, Cherokee people left the Southeast in three different waves. The signers of the Treaty of New Echota and some other families left voluntarily beginning in 1837. When other Cherokee people refused to leave voluntarily, the United States Government began to plan a forced removal. Martin Van Buren, Andrew Jackson’s successor assigned General Winfield Scott to lead the round up and forced removal of the remaining Cherokee people.

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Article: Great Expectations William Potter Ross and Cherokee Education

Article: Down from the Mountains to the Swamps: The Cherokee Delegation to the Seminole in 1837

Article: Chief John Ross