Red Clay Area – John Ross Cabin

"Whole Indian Nations have melted away like snowballs in the sun before the white man's advance. They leave scarcely a name of our people except those wrongly recorded by their destroyers. Where are the Delawares? They have been reduced to a mere shadow of their former greatness. We had hoped that the white men would not be willing to travel beyond the mountains. Now that hope is gone. They have passed the mountains, and have settled upon Tsalagi (Cherokee) land. They wish to have that usurpation sanctioned by treaty. When that is gained, the same encroaching spirit will lead them upon other land of the Tsalagi (Cherokees). New cessions will be asked. Finally the whole country, which the Tsalagi (Cherokees) and their fathers have so long occupied, will be demanded, and the remnant of the Ani Yunwiya, The Real People, once so great and formidable, will be compelled to seek refuge in some distant wilderness. There they will be permitted to stay only a short while, until they again behold the advancing banners of the same greedy host. Not being able to point out any further retreat for the miserable Tsalagi (Cherokees), the extinction of the whole race will be proclaimed. Should we not therefore run all risks, and incur all consequences, rather than to submit to further loss of our country? Such treaties may be alright for men who are too old to hunt or fight. As for me, I have my young warriors about me. We will hold our land." 

Chief Dragging Canoe, Chickamauga Tsalagi (Cherokee) 1775


"Many proposals have been made to us to adopt your laws, your religion, your manners and your customs. We would be better pleased with beholding the good effects of these doctrines in your own practices, than with hearing you talk about them." 

Old Tassel, Chief of the Tsalagi (Cherokee)


"We are now about to take our leave and kind farewell to our native land, the country that the Great Spirit gave our Fathers, we are on the eve of leaving that country that gave us birth . . . it is with sorrow we are forced by the white man to quit the scenes of our childhood . . . we bid farewell to it and all we hold dear." 

Charles Hicks, Tsalagi (Cherokee) Vice Chief on the Trail of Tears, August 4, 1838


"I believe it is in the power of the Indians unassisted, but united and determined, to hold their country. We cannot expect to do this without serious losses and many privations, but we possess the spirit of our fathers, and are resolved never to be enslaved by an inferior race, and trodden under the feet of an ignorant and insolent foe, we, the Creeks, Choctaws, Chickasaws, Seminoles, and Tsalagi (Cherokees), never can be conquered . . ." 

Confederate General Stand Waitie, Tsalagi (Cherokee)


"By peace our condition has been improved in the pursuit of civilized life."

John Ross



In preparation for doing this page I did an Internet search for "Chief John Ross quotes."  As prolific a writer and speaker as he was, I found it interesting, that of the more than a dozen "results" sites I visited, the above quote was the only one which appeared for John Ross on most.  From the movies and documentaries I have watched about the Trail of Tears, or Cherokee history in general, I know that on at least one occasion he spoke about the same concerns as Dragging Canoe did back in 1775.  His argument was simple.  If we acquiesce to white desires for our homes and land here in the east, what security can we possibly hope for that the same will not occur regarding the territory in the west we are being offered in exchange.  Their concerns were prophetic, of course, as even after forced removal it only took a few decades or so before whites, and the US government, wanted the lands we had been sent to, as well. 

At the park I asked about other Cherokee historical sites in the area.  One of the sheets of information they gave to me provided a map to the John Ross cabin on Red Hill Valley Road about four miles from Red Clay.  In spite of the historical marker, as you will see by some of the quotes from other websites, there is considerable question regarding whether this was actually John Ross' cabin.  That is partly why I have chosen to include it now as a side page, rather than feature it as the beginning of a separate Scrapbook Photos topic about Cherokee Chief John Ross. His cabin near Red Clay was what he built to be close to the council grounds after the Cherokee government had been pushed out of Georgia.  By itself, this cabin, whether truly his or simply something similar, would not provide the realistic impression of someone as accomplished, prominent, and wealthy as John Ross actually was.  Still, there is something special about being here, with the history it was a piece of, or that which was simply going on around it. 

On a fourth page linked only here you can read an example of John Ross' writings about the events taking place.  It is a reply which he wrote from Washington DC to someone who had inquired about several related matters.  The letter was not a part of any Red Clay displays or brochures, so I have not placed it among the main links.   I ran across it when I was doing the previously mentioned search.  The page 3 link following the letter will return you to this spot. 





The picture of the sign on the left above was taken along side of the road between Red Clay Park and the John Ross cabin.  One of the reasons for including it here is to contrast it with the sign at the John Ross home site, which has obviously been there for some time.  Notice the 2A 43 sign says "Here in a log cabin," not "Here in this log cabin." 


"When the Cherokee government was forced out of Georgia, the Principal Chief, John Ross relocated his family to a site near the new capital of Red Clay.  It was at this site that John Howard Payne, known for his song 'Home Sweet Home,' came to visit in 1835.  While Payne was there, the Georgia Guard slipped across the border and arrested both Chief Ross and Mr. Payne, trying to prevent Ross from going to Washington before they could get a treaty signed by the pro-removal faction.  Ross and Payne were held without charges for 12 days, and then released. 

But it was too late.  While [Ross] was imprisoned, the Treaty of New Echota was signed, which surrendered all the Cherokee lands in the east.  Although the men who signed away the Cherokee lands were prominent in the tribe, none was currently an elected leader.  And per the Cherokee Constitution, signing away Cherokee lands brought a penalty of death for the traitor. 

A cabin similar to the one Ross would have occupied is in southern Bradley County on Red Hill Valley Road. The cabin there today is not original to Ross, but the logs have been dated to the 1830s. An effort is underway to restore the cabin." 


"A homesite of Cherokee Chief John Ross is thought to be in the Flint Springs area. Ross moved to this vicinity near Red Clay around 1832 to be near the council grounds after he was forced from his home at the head of the Coosa by winners of the Georgia Land Lottery. A replica of his cabin is next to Flint Springs not far from Red Clay State Park. Some disagree with this location and think that Ross lived in what is now the community of Red Hill. The cabin replica is commemorative in its design but historical information to the precise location or the veracity of the building’s architecture is lacking." 


"On December 29, 1935, Major Ridge, leader of the Treaty Party, signed a treaty in New Echota by which the Cherokee ceded all lands east of the Mississippi river in return for western lands and other considerations. 

The treaty was without authority of the Cherokee Nation, but all who signed received payment and land. John Ross carried a petition to Washington with 15,000 signatures, 90 percent of all Cherokee, in protest. Davy Crockett lost his seat in Congress for opposing Jackson's views on Indian Removal. When he [Ross] returned home, his property had been drawn by lottery and granted to a Georgian. Dispossessed, John Ross shared the fate of his fellow tribesmen. He built a one-room cabin at "Red Hill" or Flint Springs, TN, near the Red Clay Council Grounds, which served as the last capital of the Cherokee Nation in the east. 

It is somewhat ironic, that the Federal government also declared in 1835 that anyone with one-quarter Indian blood was considered to be an Indian. John Ross, although having only 1/8 Indian blood, identified himself as Indian and aligned with the Cherokee. The seizure of his land and property were not only immoral, they were illegal." 

Page 1
Red Clay Park
  Page 2
Interpretive Center
  Scrapbook Photos

Quoted text and information courtesy of:
Tennessee State Parks Red Clay brochures & handouts;