The Republic of Texas and the Cherokee Indians

The Republic of Texas:

When the Republic of Texas gained its independence from Mexico, the Cherokee quest for a Mexican land title was no longer relevant. The Texans issued a declaration recognizing Cherokee land claims in east Texas and vowing friendship with them.

The Texas provisional government met with the Cherokee leader Chief Bowle. A formal treaty was negotiated and signed by Texas leader Sam Houston, among others. However, many Texans opposed the treaty and it was not presented to the provisional convention for ratification.

In 1837, Sam Houston again met with the Cherokee to sign a new treaty of friendship and trade with the new Texas government. The treaty recognized Cherokee title to the lands they claimed in east Texas. Houston then presented Bowle with gifts, and Bowle responded by declaring Houston to be a chief among the Cherokee. Houston married Bowle’s daughter.

Most Texans did not look as kindly on the Cherokee as Sam Houston did. The Texas Senate secretly met to reject Houston’s treaty with the Cherokee.

Texas still turned to the Cherokee as allies and friends in their conflict with the Comanche. In 1837, Chief Bowle was commissioned by the Texas government to visit the Comanche and to issue a report. Interim President David G. Burnet, who had lived with the Comanche, sent a representative to negotiate a peace treaty with the northern Comanche bands, but they refused to enter into a treaty agreement.

In 1839, the Texas government intercepted a letter from the Mexican government to Chief Bowle. In the letter, the Mexicans promised the Cherokee land in exchange for raiding Texas settlements. There was no sign that the Cherokee had known about the offer, but President Mirabau Lamar used it as an excuse to eject the Cherokee from Texas.

Texas offered the Cherokee $25,000 for their land and property. The offer also required that they give up their guns and leave Texas under military escort as prisoners. The Cherokee refused the offer.

Texas took military action against the Cherokee, killing 100 Cherokee and Chief Bowle in the first day of fighting. The militia chased the survivors, destroying Indian cornfields and houses along the way.

Some of the Cherokee who escaped fled to the Mexican state of Coahuila where they established a village.

Source: The Republic of Texas and the Cherokee Indians
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