Stand Watie

Stand Watie is an important figure in the history of the Cherokee people, and also the histories of Indian Territory and of Oklahoma. What is not well known is that he served as an officer in the Confederate Army, during the American Civil War. Watie was born into a powerful Cherokee family in Georgia in 1806. Many Cherokee had adapted mainstream culture, and Watie’s father owned a plantation. In the 1830s, settlers coveting Cherokee land forced the tribe to relocate west, in Indian Territory (now Oklahoma). Watie signed a treaty agreeing to relocate, and moved in the 1830s. Members who did not leave voluntarily were forced out and the result was the Trail of Tears, in which perhaps 4,000 Cherokee died during their forced move west. Stand Watie build up a plantation, and as a slave owner, sided with the Confederates. While Indian Territory tried to remain neutral, Watie raised a Cherokee cavalry regiment for the Confederacy that fought at such battles as Pea Ridge. What is most remarkable is that Stand Watie was the last Confederate general to surrender, on June 23, 1865. He died peacefully in 1871.

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