Treaties & Boundaries

Treaties & Boundaries

For Native America, the arrival of Europeans from Spain, France, England and lessor powers onto the Eastern Seaboard of North America was like an invasive specie of weed that had no natural enemies and once established, would multiply from the Atlantic to the Pacific.  From tolerance and conflict, to trade dependency dependent on  modern European technology and industry, small land concessions, to deadly plagues of introduced diseases, their ancient freedoms slowly vanished.

“The Land Will Make You Rich!” Land speculators were a devious enemy of the Cherokee. Head Man Col John Watts protested the recruitment of speculators in running the Cherokee boundary line in 1796. Cherokee land was illegally sold to whites.   Land speculation became a well-oiled machine within the General Assemblies of the North Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia and Alabama. Millions of acres of Cherokee land ended up in the hands of a handful of the rich and greedy. North Carolina and other states opposed the Federal Government’s role in making treaties with the native peoples. The States argued that the constitution granted them the right to manage Indian tribes that lived within their new borders. They argued that the Cherokees were defeated in the Revolutionary War as an ally of Great Britain.  The end of the Chickamauga Era in 1794 reinforced the idea of Indian subjection to the interests of the United States. 

The Federal government determined to treat with the Indians as a sovereign nation opposing the tenant status promoted by the States of North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia and Alabama. Land speculators played a key role in the expeditious extinguishing of land title to Cherokees residing in North Carolina. The Blount, Love, Allison, Cathcart, Strother, Candler, Coffee, Dobson and other families lobbied Governors to open more and more Indian claims to speculation and sale. 
The General Assembly of North Carolina passed an Act in 1789 that opened Cherokee land between the Pigeon River and the dividing ridge that separated the waters of Pigeon and Tuckasegee Rivers. Hundreds of illegal intruders were already settled on Cherokee lands south of the French Broad River. (see Benjamin Hawkins letters on intruders and running the eastern Cherokee boundary line) Part of this land was given up by North Carolina and became today’s east Tennessee. These intruders petitioned the North Carolina General Assembly to accommodate their claims. North Carolina responded with an Act that allowed for the annexation of lands situated below Brown’s Line South of the Holston River to become Green County, Tennessee. Each families could enter a square mile or 640 acres of land. This figure alone would total hundreds of square miles. Western North Carolina was now open season for a “speculation rush” and influx of white settlers across the east boundary of their diminishing land base.

The 1802 survey of the Meigs and Freeman Line accelerated the decline and subjection of the Oconoluftee/Tuckasegee Cherokees. It was a line that originally was intended to be far east of where it was run. It was the result of the failure of the federal government and the unjust designs of the State of North Carolina to allow illegal intrusion onto Cherokee lands. Once white farms were established, the Indian line was arbitrarily run to place the white families within the North Carolina boundary. The Meigs line crossed the Oconolufty River at modern Cherokee and passed through modern Sylva a few miles upstream of the mouth of Scotts Creek. Whites flooded over the mountain barrier.

In September, 1789, Joseph Dobson (Sr.?) entered 600 acres of land on Richland Creek below Carson’s entry. In October of 1789, Joseph Dobson, Jr., entered 200 acres on South Fork of Richland Creek, a mile above Carson’s entry at the road. He also entered 200 acres on Richland Creek a mile above the mouth of the Creek and Pigeon River. He concurrently entered two 600 acre tracts on Richland Creek above his entry at the mouth of Richland. Elijah Jennings had just entered 200 acres in August on a creek that fed into Pigeon River 2 miles from the River including the ford of the old Cherokee Path. The property began one mile below the old ford and continued up along the creek.