Major Ridge: Wikis


Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Major Ridge

This portrait of Major Ridge was painted by Charles Bird King in 1834.
Born 1771, exact date unknown
Great Hiwassee, present-day Tennessee
Died June 22, 1839 (aged 67 or 68)
White Rock Creek, AR
Cause of death Assassination
Nationality American
Ethnicity American Indian
Citizenship United States
Occupation Chieftains Owner, Cherokee Leader
Spouse(s) Sehoyah (Susannah Catherine Wickett)
Kate Parris
Children John Ridge

Major Ridge , also Pathkiller II (c.1771 – June 22, 1839) was a Cherokee Indian leader and protégé, along with Charles R. Hicks, of James Vann. Together, the three men were sometimes referred to as the "Cherokee triumvirate".



Ridge was born into the Deer clan in the Cherokee town of Great Hiwassee along the Hiwassee River, an area later part of Tennessee. His father was named Tatsi (sometimes written Dutsi) who may have at one time been called Aganstata, but this was a common name among the Cherokee as was the practice of changing one's name, which Tatsi's son did. Ridge's maternal grandfather was a Highland Scot; thus Ridge was 3/4 Cherokee by ancestry, and one of the many Cherokees of his time with partial European (especially Scottish) heritage.

For most of his later life, he was named Ganundalegi (other spellings include Ca-Nun-Tah-Cla-Kee, Ca-Nun-Ta-Cla-Gee, and Ka-Nun-Tah-Kla-Gee), meaning "The Man Who Walks On The Mountain Top." Until the end of the Chickamauga wars, he was known as Nunnehidihi, meaning "He Who Slays The Enemy In His Path" or Pathkiller (not the same as the chief).

During the wars, besides small raids and other actions during the wars, he took part in the attacks on Gillespie's Station and Watts' raids from their encampment on the Flint River in the winter of 1788-1789, the attack on Buchanan's Station in 1792, the campaign against the settlements of Upper East Tennessee in 1793 that ended with the massacre at and destruction of Cavett's Station, and the so-called "Battle of Hightower" at Etowah. Before the 1793 campaigns, he had taken part in a horse-stealing raid against the Holston River settlements that left two men dead; the subsequent pursuit of his band ended at Coyatee near the mouth of the Little Tennessee River and the killings of a number of leading Cherokee and wounding of several others, including Hanging Maw, the chief headman of the Overhill Towns by the party sent in pursuit.

After the Chickamauga war, he changed his name to what the English version simplifies as "The Ridge" (as the chief named Bloody Fellow changed his to Clear Sky). In 1807 Chief Doublehead was bribed by white speculators to cede Cherokee land. The National Council determined this to be a capital crime, and directed James Vann, Ridge, and Alexander Sanders to kill Doublehead. Vann became too drunk to participate, so the other two Cherokees used guns,knives and a tomahawk to dispatch the old chief in a schoolmaster's house at the Hiwassee Garrison in Tennessee on August 9, 1807.

Ridge acquired the title "Major" in 1814, during his service leading Cherokees alongside General Andrew Jackson at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend during the Creek War. He also joined Jackson in the First Seminole War in 1818, leading Cherokees against the Seminole Indians. After the war, Ridge became a wealthy planter and slave owner of African Americans. Major Ridge married Sehoyah (Susannah Catherine Wickett), daughter of Ar-tah-ku-ni-sti-sky ("Wickett") and Kate Parris, about 1800. He was also the builder and first owner of the home that is now the Chieftains Museum at the Cherokee town of Head of Coosa, now site of Rome, Georgia. Major Ridge also owned a profitable ferry and a trading post (in partnership with a white man named George Lavender).

Cherokee removal

Ridge long opposed U.S. government proposals for the Cherokees to sell their lands and remove to the West. However, the rapidly expanding white settlement and Georgia's efforts to abolish the Cherokee government caused him to change his mind. Advised by his son John Ridge, Major Ridge came to believe the best way to preserve the Cherokee Nation was to get good terms for their lands from the U.S. government before it was too late. On December 22, 1835, Ridge was one of the signers of the Treaty of New Echota, which exchanged the Cherokee tribal land east of the Mississippi River for land in what is now Oklahoma. The treaty was rejected by the party of Chief John Ross and a majority of the Cherokee National Council. Nevertheless, the treaty was ratified by the U.S. Senate.

Ridge, his family, and many other Cherokees emigrated to the West in March of 1837. The treaty had been signed December 29, 1835 and was amended and ratified in March 1836. They did not leave "soon" after the treaty as many have suggested. The terms of the treaty were strictly enforced, and those Cherokees (and their African American slaves) who remained on tribal lands in the East were forcibly rounded up by the U.S. government in 1838, and began a journey popularly known as the "Trail of Tears".


In the West, the Ross faction blamed Ridge and the other signers of the Treaty of New Echota for the hardships of removal. In June 1839, Major Ridge, his son John, and nephew Elias Boudinot, were assassinated by Cherokees of the Ross faction to remove them as political rivals and to intimidate the political establishment of the Old Settlers, which the Ridge faction had joined. Among Ridge's killers was Bird Doublehead (whose father Chief Doublehead had been slain by Major Ridge). Another killer was Bird's half-brother James Foreman who was in turn was killed in 1842 by Stand Watie. Watie was Ridge's nephew and brother of Elias Boudinot, and later a future Confederate general in the Civil War. Watie had also been targeted for assassination in 1839, but escaped, and during the Civil War also served as Principal Chief of pro-Confederate Cherokees after Ross and the Union-supporters withdrew.

Ridge and his son are buried along with Stand Watie in Polson Cemetery in Delaware County, OK.

See also


  • Arbuckle, Gen Matthew: Intelligence report and correspondence concerning unrest in Cherokee Nation, Congressional Serial Set 365, 26th Congress, House Document 129 .
  • Brown, John P, Old Frontiers: The Story of the Cherokee Indians from Earliest Times to the Date of Their Removal to the West, 1838. Southern Publishers, Kingsport, Tn, 1938 (Arno Press Reprint Edition, New York, 1971).
  • Dale, Edwards Everett. Cherokee Cavaliers; Forty Years of Cherokee History as Told in the Correspondences of the Ridge-Watie-Boudinot Family. Norman, University of Oklahoma Press, 1939.
  • Ehle, John. Trail of Tears: The Rise and Fall of the Cherokee Nation. New York: Doubleday, 1988. ISBN 0-385-23953-X.
  • Wilkins, Thurman. Cherokee Tragedy. (New York: Macmillan Company, 1970).

External links



Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address