Saturday, May 13, 2006

Cherokee Government

The first building is the Council House, which held the legislative branch of the Cherokee Nation. The National Council (thirty-two members) occupied the bottom floor, while the National Committee (thirteen members) took the top. They functioned mostly like the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate, respectively. Bills had to pass both houses to be made into law. The Cherokee people elected all the council members, and the councils in turn elected the Executive Branch, namely the Principal Chief, Vice-Principal Chief, and the Treasurer.

All of the people in the pictures are at least half Cherokee except the one on the bottom right. Like in so many other cultures, the artists had the “White is Right” concept and painted the men a lighter hue. You’ll notice the one white dude is bloodlessly pale.

The second building is the Supreme Courthouse housing the judicial branch of the Cherokee government. It mostly heard civil cases since criminal cases were resolved in lower courts. Note – the Cherokee had no prison system. All convicted criminals were fined, whipped, or hanged. I think I prefer their system to housing and feeding useless people for decades.

When court was not in session, the building was used for church and school. That’s right – they managed to have government, religion, and schooling under the same roof without a hissy fit about who was influencing who. Of course, by that point the Cherokee were all Christian anyway. The last teacher they had before being forcibly marched West was a Presbyterian missionary named Sophia Sawyer.

Council House

Council House

George Lowery (Deputy-Principal Chief), John Ross (Principal Chief), and Major Ridge (Speaker of the Council)

David Vann (Committee Member), John Ridge (Clerk of the Council), and Joseph Vann (Committee Member)

Supreme Courthouse

Supreme Courthouse

BTW, if anybody wants a full-sized version of any pictures, e-mail me and let me know.


TTD said...

where exactly are these buildings located??

Grant said...

ttd - they're in Georgia. Information is here.

Ms. X said...

It's sadly odd that those men are white, but are apparently half-Cherokee.

And I am sorry to hear that you lost family on the Trail of Tears.

SJ said...

Ha ha you crack me up "functioned like senate". haha. Functioned? ha ha. You are such a comedian.

PBS said...

I wish we were that practical nowadays! No housing of criminals with punishment to discourage further crime, and to have government, religion, and schooling under the same roof! Very forward thinking.

mal said...

I just read both your posts on the Cherokee. Sadly, many Americans are not conversant with the "Trail of Tears" , the "Japanese internment" or other less than stellar incidents in our nations history. We can not agonize over them but do need to learn from them to move foward.

As a slightly different view point on the native american situation I wrote

Liz said...

Very interesting stuff Grant.

Kira said...

More good pictures. Thanks! You know, I have had three half Cherokee students since I started teaching at Tech (as in, all three were raised on the reservation for the first part of their lives too, in Cherokee, NC), and they all were about as dusky skinned as the folks in those pictures. The white dude is glow in the dark white, though.

annush said...

you should be a tour guide...

hellbunny said...

I love historic buildings.That was some interesting historic facts there.I'd never heard of the trail of tears before.

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