An Informal History
Donald N. Panther-Yates
Copyright 2013 Donald N. Yates
If we were naively to pose the question who the Cherokee really are, and what constitute their origins and divisions, we would be forced to admit that anything like definitive accounts are utterly lacking. This is the case even though Cherokees make up one of the oldest—and today most numerous—American Indian groups. Scholars regard them as a sort of enigma. The following notes are offered only in the spirit of sketching some rudimentary facts I personally have been able to piece them together. They are not intended to be anything more than tentative.
The Cherokee clans were suppressed by the reforms of affluent half-breed planters following the death of Dragging Canoe in 1792 and white settlement of Tennessee. The Light Horse Brigade introduced by Maj. Ridge (al-Wadi) was modeled on the prevailing Arab institution of the qadi. Henceforth, Cherokee marshals, not clans, had the power to punish acts like illicit sexual intercourse, theft, drunkenness and murder.