Famous and Inspiring Cherokee People

Flag of Cherokee Nation
Flag of Cherokee Nation | Source

Famous Cherokee Persons

My 13th cousin, Elvis Presley, was part Cherokee. A good friend of mine that was an Elvis Tribute Artist for many years was also part Cherokee. Coincidences offer unique learning opportunities and new things to appreciate, so we must grab them when they appear. My friend Bob was not famous, really, but he did perform with a band that was the opening act for Question Mark and the Mysterians a few times.

Cherokee Nation was previously known as the The Principle People or Ani'Yun'wiya. My departed friend certainly had principals, but I never met Elvis. In fact, I knew nothing of our genealogical link until the late 2000s. Most of what I know of Elvis Presley, I learned since that time. I join hundreds of others that are surprised by such links. Cherokee Nation is called a distant cousin, by some sources, of the Iroquois Confederation, and this is my link to Elvis, Iroquois heritage being found on my mother;s side of the family.

Elvis Presley
Elvis Presley | Source

US Indian Removals

Nunna daul Tsunyi is the term for the forcible removal of the Cherokee Nation and the Blacks that lived among them in 1838.

This was in the early years of the Indian Removal Act under President Andrew Jackson and it was horrid treatment of people. Their Passage began at Ross's Landing on the Tennessee River in what is now Downtown Chattanooga, Tennessee.

To whites, this is the Trail of Tears upon which as many as 40% or more of the men, w omen, and children walking through harsh weather westward died in extreme the cold from hypothermia, sickness, and starvation. It was the coldest winter of the 19th Century.

Coming an odd full circle around in the early 2010s, Cherokee Nation has expelled the descendants of the Black members of the tribe.

Cherokee Nation In Eastern Oklahoma - End of the Trail Of Tears

A markerCherokee Nation -
Cherokee Nation Capital Bldg, Cherokee Tribal Administration, Bald Hill Rd, Tahlequah, OK 74464, USA
[get directions]

Seal of the Five Civilized Tribes; Great State of Sequoyah - a proposal for a US State in Eastern Oklahoma failed.
Seal of the Five Civilized Tribes; Great State of Sequoyah - a proposal for a US State in Eastern Oklahoma failed. | Source

Stand Waitie

Full name: Isaac Stand Waitie Degataga
Full name: Isaac Stand Waitie Degataga | Source
Stand Waitie's flag during the war.
Stand Waitie's flag during the war. | Source

Della Reese

Della Reese glamor shot from the 1950s. Today, she is not only an actress, but also a pastor.
Della Reese glamor shot from the 1950s. Today, she is not only an actress, but also a pastor. | Source

Every Day is a Good Day by Chief Wilma Mankiller

Richard Dean Anderson was made an honorary USAF Brigadier General by General John P. Jumper in 2004 for his work in TV's Stargate SG-1 for his positive portrayal of the USAF.
Richard Dean Anderson was made an honorary USAF Brigadier General by General John P. Jumper in 2004 for his work in TV's Stargate SG-1 for his positive portrayal of the USAF. | Source

Famous Cherokee People - Chronology

Dragging Canoe - During the American Revolution, this Cherokee warrior gathered together Cherokee Mohawk, Shawnee, and Delaware tribesmen to fight against the American colonists. This was not the first or only time that the Mohawk would oppose Americans - they continued to do so in the French and Indian War and the War of 1812. One of my ancestors among the Mohawk Nation translated languages at the Battle of Fort Pitt.

Sequoyah (1770-1843) Born a few years before the American Revolution began, this man invented the Cherokee symbols for the tribe's alphabet. Some sources state that Sequoyah was born later, iin 1776. Most agree, however, that he was half white, being the son of fir trader Nathaniel Gist. Sequoyah's "white name" was George.

John Ross - Second Principal Chief in 1811 and on the Trail of Tears, later becoming First Principal Chief. Ross's Landing on the Tennessee River in Chattanooga is named for him. A memorial for Cherokee Nation is located nearby and named The Passage. The Cherokee called Pathkiller was First Principal Chief until his death.

Stand Waitie (or Watie) (1806 - 1871) - I believe that this name took on the meaning of "stand and wait", a nickname derived from the native name Standhope Uwatie and a Cherokee nickname that meant "stand firm." Stand Waitie was a Brigadier-General for the South during the American Civil War and on June 23, 1865, Stand Watie was the last Confederate general in the field to surrender. He waited until the very lost moment. This warrior led his unit, called the Cherokee Mounted Volunteers, with the notion of protecting Cherokee lands from the North during the war and he was serious about his responsibility in this task.

Elias Boudinot or Gallegina Uwati (1802 - 1839), Stand Waitie's brother. He wrote a newspaper, the Cherokee Phoenix. Like his brother, he believed that Indians and whites should join forces and the Uwatis did so, intermarrying, going into business, and even owning slaves, as some of the Iroquois people did.

Goingsnake (1758 - circa 1840) - Famous orator and political person.

The Famous Cherokee Indian Base Ball Club - Rare post cards of this group show them involved in baseball from 1908 - 1912. A woman, Maud Nelson, was their pitcher in 1908, but she also played on women's baseball teams. Sh was also a baseball scout, a team manager, and a team owner.

Will Rogers (1879 - 1935) - Nicknamed The Cherokee Kid, Rogers was a comedian and political commentator (think "Stephen Colbert" and "Mark Twain"). He was 1/4 Cherokee.

Kenneth Stanley Adams, Jr. (b. 1923) - Age 89 in 2012, he is the owner of the Tennessee Titans' NFL team. Originally, he made a fortune in oil and continues to be involved in energy production.

Elvis Presley (1935 - 1977) - Part Cherokee on his mother's side, Elvis is my 13th cousin. He is also a cousin of President Barack Obama, the President's mother being related to the family of Elvis's mom. Further, the President's mother is related to my mother's relatives that settled in Southern Ohio. Elvis is famous, but I'm only well known enough to receive spam and requests for "loans"! Elvis changed popular music and specifically, rock n' roll, to a greater extent than any other singer before or since.

Burt Reynolds (b. 1936 - ) - Actor whose father, Burt Sr., was Cherokee and Irish. Reynolds is likely most famous fr his Smokey and the Bandit film series and fore his marriages to Judy Carne (Laugh In) and Loni Anderson (WKRP In Cincinnati) and his affairs with Sally Field and Dinah Shore. He was well known for his roles in early television shows Riverboat and Gunsmoke.

Wilma Mankiller (1945 - 2010) - First female Chief of Cherokee Nation in Oklahoma. Visit http://www.wilmamankiller.com/

Della Reese - Famous singer and actress, her mother is full-blood Cherokee, according to her interview on television with Rosie O'Donnell in May, 1999.

Richard Dean Anderson - MacGyver! Also Colonel O'Neill on TV's Stargate SG-1.

Cher Sarkisian Bono Allman - Cher became famous in the 1960s as one half of the singing duo Sonny and Cher. They used to perform on Saturday teen dance shows and went on to have their own musical comedy variety show for a few years. Cher is Cherokee on her mom's side, "Sarkiasian" being her dad's name and Armenian.

Christopher Judge - One of the stars of the Stargate television series. He was also in an episode of TV's MacGyver.

Carmen Electra - From Sharonville, Ohio outside Cincinnati, Carmen is part Cherokee (re: IMDB).

Cherokee Nation and Oklahoma

Indian Reservation (Cherokee Nation) - Paul Revere and the Raiders; suggested by our friend kasmir56.

© 2012 Patty Inglish

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Comments: Add Famous Cherokee People Here 14 comments

vespawoolf profile image

vespawoolf 4 years ago from Peru, South America

What an interesting claim to fame...a cousin of Elvis! It's news to me that Elvis, Carmen Electra and Burt Reynolds all share Cherokee blood. My in-laws live on the borders of NM and CO and they often speak of the beautiful people of the Navajo Nation. The Trail of Tears was a terrible tragedy that will forever remain etched in history. Thank you for this beautifully written hub.


kashmir56 profile image

kashmir56 4 years ago from Massachusetts

Hi Patty great hub, loved reading this interesting hub of famous Cherokee people did not know a lot of them were. great video to. I was surprised you did not use the video by Paul Revere & The Raiders - Indian Reservation (Cherokee People) . Well done !

Vote up and more !!! SHARING !


Angela Blair profile image

Angela Blair 4 years ago from Central Texas

How delightful to read about the Cherokee Nation and their famous people. I'm always pleased to learn more about any of the tribes as I have Comanche heritage on my father's side and my significant other is a medicine man of the Lakota Sioux. We adhere as much as possible to the old Indian ways -- which, by the way, are rapidly fading as the elders age -- there's few who speak the native languages now -- I think it's somewhere around 20% of the collective tribes (read that recently but haven't truly checked it out). Thank you so very much for such an interesting read on a subject dear to my heart. Best/Sis


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 4 years ago from North America Author

vespawoolf - Thanks for your comment! I saw lists of people that "might"have Cherokee blood and was overwhelmed by the number. I left those alone and chose some that have spoken on TV or Youtube of their heritage. I am sad that some of the Cherokee helped and fought with Andrew Jackson when he was a US General, then Jackson still sent them to Oklahoma in the snow storms along the way. Some of those that survived were killed by their own people for going against the tribe somehow. It's a very discouraging part of US history.


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 4 years ago from North America Author

kashmir56 - You're right, I should add the video; I've used it in other Hubs.


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 4 years ago from North America Author

Angela Blair - You'll be happy to know that in addition to their space exploration projects, Google is deep into a project to bring back fading or dying languages. I have a Hub on that and found that the project is several years old. Through a pretty good network of partners, they may help save dozens of languages. If I recall correctly, one language is from the Pacific Northwest and is spoken fluently only by a European or Middle Eastern person that began to study it when he was a child, from books. Now he is teaching descendants of the original speakers. It's amazing.

I'm sure you'll hang onto your Medicine Man and native ways; they will help in the changing US Healthcare landscape! We have a few in Southern Ohio, but not many.

Patty


frogyfish profile image

frogyfish 4 years ago from Central United States of America

Interesting information on these famous people - some were surprisingly Okies. And you get to claim Elvis' as cousin, how 'bout that! Very readable and informative hub and great pictures. First video good historical and second, music was 'bouncy'. Thanks for sharing great info - I'd like to link my Red Dirt hub to this, ok please?


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 4 years ago from North America Author

Sure, link away, froggyfish! I'll look forward to reading that Hub of yours. Thanks for visiting.


myawn profile image

myawn 4 years ago from Florida

Great Hub I love Elvis!Interesting you are related. I knew he was part Cherokee I have 1/2 Cherokee 1/2 Irish blood. My grand grand grandmother Mary walked the trail of tears .Thank you!


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 4 years ago from North America Author

That is all very interesting to hear, myawn. I am sorry that Mary was on the Trail of Tears; it was horrid.


haikutwinkle profile image

haikutwinkle 4 years ago

What a surprise and interesting article!

Now I learned something new about Elvis!


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 4 years ago from North America Author

I wish I'd known all this much earlier!


dennis doyle 15 months ago

it sure a shame the way the white man treated the indian thrugh history


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 15 months ago from North America Author

It's a shame that so many groups of people have treated many other groups they consider minorities so very badly. It's a tragedy of millennia.

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