Major Ridge (American Indians Ready Reference)
Article abstract: Major Ridge, an influential Cherokee orator, fought against the Creeks and was a leading figure during the removal era.
Ridge was born in eastern Tennessee around 1771. His paternal grandfather was a Highland Scot, but Ridge was brought up as a Cherokee. As a young man, called The Ridge after the Blue Ridge mountains, he became prominent as a hunter and warrior, sometimes raiding against white settlers. Ridge became an outstanding orator among his people, who made him a member of their central council. The Cherokees had a “blood law” decreeing death for anyone who sold Cherokee lands without the full consent of the nation. When Chief Doublehead violated this law, Ridge and Alexander Saunders assassinated him in 1807.
Observing the comparative prosperity of whites, Ridge concluded that Indian prosperity lay in becoming civilized and competing with whites in farming and trade, rather than in war. Ridge did so with such success that he soon became a wealthy planter in western Georgia. Without any formal education, he learned to understand English and could speak it brokenly, but he preferred to use Cherokee and translators.
During the War of 1812, when combat broke out between the Creeks and both the American government and rival tribes, Ridge led a Cherokee force against the hostile Red Stick Creeks, defeated them in several battles, then joined the army of Andrew Jackson, who made him a major....
(The entire section is 648 words.)
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