Thursday, February 4, 2010

Are you Kituwah's son?

Excerpts from Are you Kituwah's son? Cherokee Nationalism and the Civil War
By Patrick Minges

"...the even more troublesome issue of "Southern Rights" arose within the
Cherokee Nation. John Ross and the leadership of the Cherokee Nation struggled
to maintain a position of neutrality, which was exceedingly difficult
considering the location of the Cherokee Nation deep within the South and the
proximity of "bleeding Kansas." However, in 1854 the Ross party lost votes to an
increasingly hard-line Southern-Rights party that believed an alliance with
white southerners in the defense of slavery would be the best course for the
nation. The pro slavery Southern Rights party was largely composed of those
pro-assimilationist "Treaty Party" members who represented the elite ten-percent
of the Nation. [43]

In 1855, Chief John Ross discovered the emergence of "a secret society organized
in Delaware and Saline Districts" dedicated to the promotion of slavery and the
removal of abolitionist interests from the Cherokee Nation. [44] Forming the
core of this "sinister plot" were members of the so-called "Blue Lodges"
(Freemasons) that had been organized by the Grand Lodge of Arkansas. The Grand
Lodge of Arkansas was being used effectively in the promotion of the
pro-Southern effort in Kansas and Oklahoma from Arkansas. [45] Many of the
pro-slavery factions in the Cherokee Nation had ties to Arkansas. John Ross, a
Freemason himself, believed that these elements were spreading the pro-southern
message among the "Blue Lodges" within the Cherokee Nation.

Some of the members of the "Blue Lodges" later formed the "Knights of the Golden
Circle," an organization that functioned somewhere in the blurred regions
between Freemasonry and the Ku Klux Klan. [46] The Constitution of the Knights
of the Golden Circle, as chartered on August 28, 1860 states:

"We, a part of the people of the Cherokee Nation, in order to form a more
perfect union and protect ourselves and property against the works of
Abolitionists do establish this Constitution for the government of the Knights
of the Golden Circle in this Nation...

"No person shall become a member of the Knights of the Golden Circle in the
Cherokee Nation who is not a pro-slavery man...

The Captain, or in case of his refusal, then the Lieutenant has the power to
compell each and every member of their encampments to turn out and assist in
capturing and punishing any and all abolitionists in their minds who are
interfering with slavery....

You do solemnly swear that you will keep all the secrets of this order and that
you will, to the best of your abilities protect and defend the interests of the
Knights of the Golden Circle in this Nation, so help you God." [47]

The leader of the Knights of the Golden Circle was Stand Watie, a Freemason, and
members of the Knights of the Golden Circle included many of the elites of the
Cherokee Nation, John Rollin Ridge; Elias Boudinot; William Penn Adair; James
Bell -- all leaders of the Southern Rights party. [48]"

"In July, a company of pro-Southern Cherokees led by Stand Watie attempted to
raise the Confederate flag over the Cherokee Nation. Senator William Doublehead
and 150 full-bloods confronted the Confederate Cherokees and bloodshed was only
narrowly averted by the intervention of John Drew, a member of Chief John Ross's
family. [62]

On August 21, 1861, Chief John Ross addressed a meeting of some four thousand
Cherokee meeting to discuss the Nation's stand in the coming Civil War and
encouraged them to maintain neutrality: "the great object with me has been to
have the Cherokee people's harmonious and united in the free exercise and
enjoyment of all their rights of person and property. Union is strength;
dissension is weakness, misery, ruin." [63] When the discussion was over, the
Cherokee Nation had maintained its unity, but lost its neutrality. The Cherokee
Nation became the last great nation to side with the Confederate States of
America when it signed a treaty on October 7, 1861. [64]

Two Confederate regiments were raised by the Cherokee Nation. Brigadier General
Ben McCulloch of the Confederate Army described them: "Colonel Drew's Regiment
will be mostly full-bloods, whilst those with Col. Stand Watie will be
half-breeds, and good soldiers anywhere, in or out of the Nation." [65] The
membership in the two units fell directly upon party lines and membership in the
corresponding secret societies. The largest part of the 1st Cherokee Mounted
Rifles were members of the Keetoowah Society and supporters of John Ross; most
of the 2nd Cherokee Mounted Rifles were members of the Knights of the Golden
Circle and followers of Colonel Stand Watie. [66] The leadership of both parties
was composed of former Freemasons from Cherokee Lodge #21, Fort Gibson Lodge
#35, and Flint Lodge #74. [67]"

"By the time the war was over in 1866, seven thousand Cherokee had lost their
lives; this amounted to from 1/4 to 1/3 of the Cherokee Nation. [85] No state
suffered greater losses than did the Indian Territory in the Civil War. [86]
General Stand Watie of the Knights of the Golden Circle was the last General of
The Confederate States of America to surrender. With Watie's surrender, the
Civil War within the Cherokee Nation was over."