Our Cherokee Indian Family

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Cherokees were first reported in Texas in 1807, when a small band, probably an offshoot of the Arkansas settlements, established a village on the Red River.

In the summer of that year, a delegation of Cherokees, Pascagoulas, Chickasaws, and Shawnees sought permission from Spanish officials in Nacogdoches, the easternmost town in Texas, to settle members of their tribes in that province. The request was approved by Spanish authorities, who intended to use the immigrant Indians as a buffer against American expansion.

For several years a small number of Cherokees drifted in and out of Texas. Subsequently, between 1812 and 1819, increasing population pressure in Arkansas compelled more Cherokees to migrate south. In the spring of 1819, Cherokees began settling in Lost Prairie, an area between the Sulphur Fork and the Red River in what is now Miller County, Arkansas, and within a year some 200 Cherokees had settled there. But they could not escape American competition for the land.

By 1820 Anglo-Americans had established seven settlements in the valley of the Red River, and the Cherokees began to consider moving further south. In early 1820, Chief Bowles, also known as Duwali, led some sixty Cherokee families into Texas. They settled first on the Three Forks of the Trinity River (at the site of present Dallas), but pressure from prairie tribes forced them to move eastward into a virtually uninhabited region north of Nacogdoches now in Rusk County.

They carved out farms on land that belonged to their friends, the Caddoes, a once powerful Indian confederacy that had been greatly reduced by warfare and epidemic diseases. By 1822 the Texas Cherokee population had grown to nearly three hundred.

An interesting side note to our Cherokee history is what is known as the "Battle of the Neches" in East Texas. This battle was between a large group of heavily armed "Texicans" and Chief Bowles (Cherokee) and a small group of warriors from several tribes that had banded together for protection. Included in this group were women and children. Most of the indians were slaughtered. A monument has been erected at the spot that Chief Bowles died. This spot is very near the small Delaware Indian villiage where the indians had been living.

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