Presently, many would say that although Americans are not at war with Native Americans, the relationship between the two is not exactly perfect. However, it is a relationship that is much better than it was centuries ago especially during the Civil War era. This was a time that seemed that one day something great would occur between the two groups while another day would end with some disaster that would befall one group.
During the early 1800s, Confederate General Stand Watie is born on December 12th, 1806 close to Rome Georgia. What is interesting about Watie is that his heritage reveals him to be a Cherokee Indian who not only in the 1830s survived the deadly Trail of Tears but Stand was able to achieve the rank of general in the Civil War and was the only Native American to accomplish this honor.
Watie belonged to a family known as being influential as well as playing a huge role in Georgia regarding the difficulties the Cherokee was having. The relationship between the tribe and their Anglo neighbors was strained as they were applying great pressure to resettle in the West at a new reservation. Watie sided with a faction that started to think that their sole way of keeping their autonomy was to volunteer to relocate. The Treaty of Echota, Stand was the signer, was sealed in 1835 which allowed the Cherokee to settle a reservation in Indian Territory in exchange for ceding their lands in Georgia. After the devastating trek to the West remembered as the Trail of Tears as one out or four Cherokee perished, Watie survived the assassination of everyone who had the misfortune of signing the treaty.
Watie, along with others, felt the true responsibility of all the suffering was the federal government regardless the suffering of the Cherokee came from Southern hands. This explains why Stand and the others gave their support to the Confederacy when in 1860 the South started to leave the Union. He was able to build a regiment of mixed-blood Cherokee that numbered 300 when he was given the rank of colonel. Around the Kansas border in 1861 would be Watie’s first battle against Unionist Creek Indians. The regiment under Watie’s command was able to take control of a Union battery during the Battle of Pea Ridge in 1862 at Arkansas despite a Confederate defeat.
Watie fulfilled his service in his home territory from the summer in 1862 until the Civil War ended. Stand secured a huge supply train in Indian Territory at Cabin Creek and on the Arkansas River a Union steamboat during the year of 1864; sadly, the majority of time was spent attacking his own people. There was a bitter divide between the Cherokee over following John Ross who fought for the Union while Watie pledged his loyalty to the Confederacy. The Cherokee would fight bitter and destructive guerilla warfare through the remainder of the conflict. Watie decided to try after the war to obtain success in the tobacco business but eventually passed away in Indian Territory at his home close to Honey Creek in 1871.