White Settlers and Native Americans

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As white settlers poured across the mountains, the Cherokee tried once again to compensate themselves with territory taken by war with a neighboring tribe. This time their intended victim was the Chickasaw, but this was a mistake. Anyone who tried to take something from the Chickasaw regretted it, if he survived. After eleven years of sporadic warfare ended with a major defeat at Chickasaw Oldfields (1769), the Cherokee gave up and began to explore the possibility of new alliances to resist the whites. Both the Cherokee and Creek attended the 1770 and 1771 meetings with the Ohio tribes at Sciota but did not participate in Lord Dunnmore's War (1773-74) because the disputed territory was not theirs. On the eve of the American Revolution, the British government scrambled to appease the colonists and negotiate treaties with the Cherokee ceding land already taken from them by white settlers. To this end, all means, including outright bribery and extortion, were employed: Lochaber Treaty (1770); and the Augusta Treaty (1773) ceding 2 million acres in Georgia to pay for debts to white traders. For the same reasons as the Iroquois cession of Ohio in 1768, the Cherokee tried to protect their homeland from white settlement by selling land they did not really control. In the Watonga Treaty (1774) and the Overhill Cherokee Treaty (Sycamore Shoals) (1775), they sold all of eastern and central Kentucky to the Transylvania Land Company (Henderson Purchase). Despite the fact that these agreements were a clear violation of existing British law, they were used later to justify the American takeover of the region. The Shawnee also claimed these lands but, of course, were never consulted. With the Iroquois selling the Shawnee lands north of the Ohio, and the Cherokee selling the Shawnee lands south, where could they go? Not surprisingly, the Shawnee stayed and fought the Americans for 40 years. Both the Cherokee and Iroquois were fully aware of the problem they were creating. After he had signed, a Cherokee chief reputedly took Daniel Boone aside to say, "We have sold you much fine land, but I am afraid you will have trouble if you try to live there."

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