"When the one Creator of all things,
U-nay-kla-nah-hi, made the first Cherokees,
the stars began to twinkle with approval;
thus it is our responsibility to live up to these heavenly expectations.”
Chief Jahtlohi Rogers
When you learn that Cherokee history is a multi-colored rope,
woven by our ancestors from the beginning of time. Their weaving was strong and good enough to get us here, but not without many, many of the strands breaking. Then during thunderstorms, you will be able to hear the old ones chant “Be warned, Cherokee! Weave stronger, Cherokee! Be warned”
Chief Jahtlohi Rogers
Siiyo. Our grandfathers’ most ancient stories tell us that we Cherokees were in exodus and walked a great distance when we came to the ocean. With faith we built rafts and crossed the ocean, coming from the East to the West and established a life for ourselves in this new land of the Americas. About 1000 B.C., a people from a rubber tree forest invaded Eastern Mexico. The indigenous Mexicans called these newcomers the Olmec. They were a people completely obsessed with magic; we avoided them by traveling to the North.
Our Cherokee traditional stories interlock and agree with several of the ancient pre-Columbian Mayan and Mexican legends which tell of a people arriving from the East who believed in a single, benevolent, providing God. Some of these travelers from the East had different coloration of eyes and skin shade; some had beards. The Maya and other early Mexicans drew pictures of these people, who wore hats and turbans not unlike those the Cherokee have always worn and wear today. The Mexican legends said that these people would return in time.
It is not known to this day which people or combination of peoples built the great pyramid city of the Valley of Mexico, but the Cherokees were living in Mexico at that time, as were the Tlamatinimi (which means “wise men” in the ancient Mexican language). They were a pre-Columbian group of intellectuals, engineers, and astronomers who shared a common belief or connection with the Cherokee in that their religion also had only one God who was merciful, who had created all things, and who would provide what you needed, not necessarily what you wished. This ancient Mexican society, the Tlamatinimi, was supremely rational and civilized, arguably even more civilized than Greeks or Romans. Their society existed within different Mexican civilizations and were unfazed by the threat of a gallery of monster gods used to motivate and control the populace. In 1450 A.D. they were centered at Texcoco.
Cherokee migration legend tells of our exodus north, three to four thousand years ago, past the river of the ferocious ones, which we believe to be the Rio Grande River where the cannibalistic Karankawas lived. In the mid-1800’s, Stephen F. Austin saw this tribe in person and described them as very handsome and intimidating, with men averaging 7 ft. in height and women 6 ft.
The Cherokee pushed on to the big waters of the Mississippi, then on to the headwaters of the Ohio, where they built walled cities and huge mounds for burial. The Delaware came from the west and, with assistance from the Iroquois federation, fought to remove the Cherokee, for the time period of 7 chiefs, or approximately 200 years, before the Cherokee went East to the mountains and coast. The exodus was pressured by war to continue south with the Cherokees arriving in the Georgia area in approximately 800 to 1000 A.D.
The first European or Spaniard to visit the Cherokee in the Georgia area was the explorer conquistador DeSoto in 1540. His official writings astonishingly state that many of the Cherokee were light skinned while, of course, many were not. De Soto noted “some with light brown and blond hair equal in coloration to some of my Spanish soldiers”. Of the hundred or more indigenous tribes visited by this Spanish explorer, no other tribe would be noted for the great mystery of being racially mixed like the Cherokee. According to oral tradition and existing written history, we know we have been mixed for several thousand years. Cherokee Chief Oconostota, whose forefathers had all been chiefs, had himself been chief for 60 years when, in 1782, he told Col. Sevier about the Cherokee history of the Welch people who had come in approximately 1100. The Chiefs story also agrees with the Welsh legend of Prince Maddox, who was said to have come with ten shiploads of white people and settled on the Hiawasse River. The Cherokee fought with them, took prisoners, and negotiated the retreat of the Welsh, who joined the Mandan tribe on Mobile Bay. (This is stated in an existing document dated 1808 which Col. Sevier sent to Major Stoddard, who was trying to locate these racially mixed Indians.)
The first Cherokees to return to Mexico went in 1720 to the mountains of Coahuila.
The great Cherokee educator and social activist Sequoyah urged Cherokees to come and live in freedom and dignity in Coahuila.
In 1822, a newly independent Republic of Mexico granted the Cherokees freedom and immigration rights to the eastern part of the Mexican province of Texas.
One of the last remaining houses of the once great Haciendo Patiño where Sequoyah was befriended after escaping arrest.
Seventeen years later, in 1839, the United States began the anti-indigenous eastern ethnic removal, a hardship that killed thousands, of the Cherokees from their homelands of a thousand years in Georgia, Tennessee, and North Carolina to reservations in Oklahoma. This ethnic removal was only exceeded in injustice by the same anti-indigenous elements of the Republic of Texas government who coveted the Cherokee’s 600,000 acres and began a western ethnic removal of over 1000 Cherokee men, women and children. The Cherokees were led by Chief Bowles, a white skinned, freckled man with dark red hair; a powerfully built warrior with a fair and honest heart, he spoke little English. He and over 100 of his Cherokee brothers were killed in defense of their property that had been granted them by Mexico under the same legal process that Austin’s Anglo settlers had received before the Texas Revolution. Cherokee families who had been peacefully farming their land for almost two decades were now, in 1839, homeless and country-less, many orphaned or widowed.
Before this ethnic cleansing, Sam Houston asked the Attorney General of the Republic of Texas for and received an opinion that stated that “it would be illegal for the Cherokee land to be taken”. Texas President Mirabeau Lamar ignored this legal opinion from his own government and ordered the ethnic cleansing to begin; Burnett carried it out militarily and he personally received the Cherokee lands, which he sold to the public for a huge profit. Lamar had helped write the Indian Removal Act of 1828 in Georgia before coming to Texas to seek his fortune. He was an admitted Cherokee hater.
The surviving Cherokees were arrested and faced with the captivity of the military reservation, but instead resisted and fled to the freedom of the Republic of Mexico. These refugee Cherokees asked the courageous Mexican leaders for help and were granted “amparo” or political amnesty. They were granted permission and settled in the Mexican states of Coahuila, Chihuahua, Nuevo Leon, and Tamaulipas, with the majority choosing to settle in mountainous Coahuila near the historic city of San Fernando now known as Zaragosa.
The most famous Cherokee in history to come and live in the freedom of Coahuila, Mexico was Sequoyah. This world famous educator is the only person in human history to develop a written system of syllables, which enabled all Cherokees to be able to write their language proficiently after only two months of study. For this work of genius, the great Sequoyah was featured in every U.S. newspaper and most major world publications.
He was an U.S. Army veteran known, honored and loved in his time by the red and white man throughout the United States. To this day, U.S. national parks and giant redwood trees bear his name. For his achievements, he was given a house and a yearly monetary pension for the rest of his life in the military-controlled Indian territory, yet he loved and valued freedom so much that he urged all Cherokees to live as a free people in Coahuila, Mexico. Indeed, earlier (in 1836), Chief John Ross had been denied permission by the U.S. Secretary of War to be allowed to sell the Cherokee lands and move the entire tribe to Mexico. Much later, in 1895, the Western Cherokees would consider a vote to move to Mexico to whence Sequoyah had moved in 1842.
Immediately upon Sequoyah’s arrival in Mexico, the anti-indigenous elements of the 1842 government of the Republic of Texas who feared Sequoyah’s intellect, celebrity influence, and pro-Native American activist presence in Mexico pressured authorities to dispatch agents that covertly and illegally entered Mexico. Without the process of law and under threat force, they arrested Sequoyah who, even at 73 years of age and suffering from a severe lung infection, managed to “suddenly disappear”, escaping his captors while crossing the Rio Grande River at night. Sequoyah, fighting collapse, persevered and returned to Zaragosa where the kind-hearted Mexican people of that city and the Patinos-Rodriguez-Salinas families of a nearby hacienda, who had all grown to love the venerable Sequoyah, bravely and without consideration for their own personal safety hid him in a secret cave. Sequoyah, who had been very ill for some time, became exhausted from this struggle and flight from captivity to his freedom. The Great Sequoyah died peacefully, a free person, among some of his Cherokee family and many Mexican friends, but not before prophesying that a Cherokee child would someday come, find his grave, and bring his spirit of brotherhood back to the Cherokee and all other people of good heart.
The Cherokee Indian with the knives is at Fort Sill in 1904 when Geronimo was a prisoner there. He is Joe Howard Layton, grandfather of Chief Rogers, son of Mary Price.(Photo - Right)
The Cherokee Indian with the knives is at Fort Sill in 1904 when Geronimo was a prisoner there. He is Joe Howard Layton, grandfather of Chief Rogers, son of Mary Price.
According to the legends of both Western Cherokee and Mexican Cherokee, Sequoyah believed with all of his being that Mexico was the ancient land in which our ancestors felt there was a source of knowledge and power. Like a migratory bird, he was determined to return to freedom, even if he perished in this quest.
After Sequoyah’s passing, seventy Cherokee warriors fought during the 1842 conflicts in an attempt to reclaim their land. Seventeen Cherokee died.
Every year the Cherokee Nation of Mexico has the honor of starting the Cabalgata - a trail ride of 8,000 horses.
On August 4,2001, President Vincente Fox historically signed Mexican constitutional amendments to reflect the legal presence and protected cultural status of all of the indigenous people of Mexico. This profound act of respect for indigenous cultures by the republic of Mexico is unique among all countries of the world.
Governor receives a beaded bolo symbolizing the respect that we of the Cherokee Nation of Mexico have for him, the state of Coahuila and all Mexican families.(Photo - Left)
Governor receives a beaded bolo symbolizing the respect that we of the Cherokee Nation of Mexico have for him, the state of Coahuila and all Mexican families.
On August 22,2001, the Cherokee nation and tribe of Mexico petitioned Coahuila Governor Enrique Martinez y Martinez to confirm, through formal recognition, the strong continuing bond that exists between the Cherokees and the Mexicans.
Chief Rogers and Clay Spirit Walker Garrett bring the noble 1910 Mexican Revolution flag from a collection in Chicago back to its home in Mexico as a gift. It was received by the Governor on behalf of all Mexico.
Governor Martinez y Martinez acted without hesitation to extend the hand of continuing friendship and ancient brotherhood with formal recognition of the Cherokee, in the same courageous Mexican spirit as the Governor of Coahuila in 1839 and the President of Mexico in 1822.
Cherokees come in many colors and we feel that this is one of our strengths which allows us to understand and respect all humans as brothers.
Wado (Thank you.)
Charles L Jahtlohi (Kingfisher) Rogers M.D.
Traditional Chief (Ugu)
“Spotted Owl fell asleep under a dancing star.
this was the night he learned to dream.
His soul became a strong white bird,
his mind a snapping terrapin,
his body as strong as a bear,
his medicine important and peaceful”
Marijo Moore - Cherokee
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Cherokee Nation of Mexico History