When the first Europeans journeyed into the Ozarks, they found the Osage Indians. Several ancient civilizations must have lived in the area, due to the fragments of their culture in the upper strata of earth, yet it was 90 established Osage villages that these first white men found. Prior to the coming of the horse, their principal villages were located geographically along the Ozark Plateau, which extended from the Missouri River on the north to the Arkansas River to the south, encompassing much of the Boston Mountains.
The tribe’s first treaty with the Federal Government was signed in November, 1808. It was made at Fort Osage on the Missouri River, and in it the Osage ceded all their land between the Missouri River and the Arkansas River lying east of a line running due south from Fort Osage to the Arkansas River. Nevertheless, they made frequent hunting expeditions in their old domain, contending that they might have given up their right of domain but not their hunting privileges. The Cherokee didn’t take kindly to this after they were ceded the land in the Boston Mountains, and fighting broke out constantly between the two tribes.
Between the years of 1817 and 1828 the Cherokee owned by right of title all of what is now Washington, Benton and Madison Counties in Arkansas, as well as that part of Carroll County west of the Kings River and a small portion of northern Crawford and Franklin Counties. What is now Eureka Springs, Beaver Lake and Holiday Island also belonged to the tribe. The area was known as Lovely County for about a year prior to 1828 when the Indians were removed West to Indian Territory, now Oklahoma.
The great Sequoyah, who created the written language of his people, the Cherokee, lived for a long while in Arkansas, and some of that time in Northwest Arkansas. Mt. Sequoyah in Fayetteville carries his name. Sequoyah, also known as George Guest, created a syllabary — symbols for the sounds in the language — despite the tribe considering him “tetched.” Even his wife thought something must be wrong with him, or why would he spend every day for 12 years in almost total seclusion. They pointed at him and called him Sequoyah, which translates to “pig in hiding.”
Only one other Indian tribe, the Cree in Canada, have a written language.
Today the Cherokee are second only in size to the Navajo tribe. Members reside in the Indian Nations in Oklahoma and around Cherokee, North Carolina. Just outside Russellville, Arkansas are the Counsel Oaks where Chief Black Fox in 1820 signed away all the Cherokee land south of the Arkansas river.
My great grandparents on both sides of my father's lineage are Cherokee. Our names are listed on the rolls in both North Carolina and Tahlequah, OK. My great great grandmother was a Soap, a common name among the Cherokee. She later is also listed as Sammy Tippett. Goodgion is the name most commonly found in the North Carolina rolls, though it is also present on Tahlequah's.