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  • "But try as he would, Tassel could not hold back the tide of whites spreading daily onto the Indian lands. Nor could he have prevented the disaster that befell him and other chiefs of the Upper Towns during the summer of 1788. According to Colonel Martin, who was in Chota at the time, the trouble began when a party of whites killed an old Cherokee woman and wounded two Indian children without provocation and then plundered a nearby Cherokee town.
  • Chief Hanging Maw, suspecting treachery from them, placed Martin and the son of Nolichucky Jack, who was also in Chota, under guard for three days. Later, when some whites appeared and began firing on Chota, all of the Cherokee families fled the town, taking down the white flag that had flown there for three years. Martin and young Sevier also departed.
  • In the meantime, a command of 150 mounted frontiersmen under Sevier, organized for the purpose of chastising the Indians, was on its way down the Tennessee River. As the Wataugans headed for the Upper Towns, they were met by Martin, who tried to dissuade Sevier from attacking the Cherokee towns. But Sevier would not he deterred. He had avowed to drive all the Cherokees out of their settlements east of the Cumberland Mountains. Marching as far as the Hiwassee River, the militia attacked several undefended Cherokee towns, They killed a number of Indians and drove others into the mountains "without the loss of a man, horse or gun." Reported to be either evacuated or in flames were Talassee, Hiwassee, Chuhowie, Settico, Chota, Tellico, Big Island, and Coyatee.
  • Sevier's campaign of destruction and murder reaped a gory retribution against a white frontier family. A family named Kirk resided at a forward settlement on Little River twelve miles southwest of present Knoxville. It was visited by a Cherokee named Slim Tom, who asked for something to eat. The father and one son of the thirteen-member family were away, but the family knew Slim Tom and gave him food. Seeing the house to be poorly defended, Slim Tom left and returned with a party of friends to attack it. All of the Kirk family who were present were killed, their bodies left strewn about the yard of their home.
  • Learning of this on his return march, Sevier turned eastward along the Little Tennessee to Toquo, where Corn Tassel resided. In front of his home, Tassel flew a U.S. flag given him during the Hopewell council, signifying the federal protection promised by the treaty. While Sevier was reportedly away on business, Maj. James Hubbard came to Tassel's house and requested that the chief attend a council with other Cherokee chiefs.
  • The meeting was to be held in the home of Chief Abram (or Abraham, Ooskwha) at Chilhowie, which was located just upstream on the opposite side of the river. Tassel agreed and went with the militiaman, accompanied by an elder son. It was necessary to cross the river on a ferry to reach Abram's house, and in doing so Hubbard raised a white flag of truce.
  • The officer waited until all the chiefs were assembled in Abram's small house before he gave the sign for his men to take positions at all of the doors and window. Then Hubbard called forth one of the men with him. It was John Kirk Jr., who had been away from home during his family's massacre. He stepped forth with a tomahawk in his hand, prepared to take his revenge.
  • Tassel knew there was no escape, that his end had come. He was old, and his elder brothers (white people) were throwing him away. He bowed his head and took the fatal blow from Kirk. One by one the chiefs were axed to death: Tassel; his son; and chiefs Fool Warrior, Long Fellow, and Abram, brother to Hanging Maw. Sevier's militia rode off leaving the bodies unburied.
  • The willingness to compromise and work out peaceful solutions had reaped only death for Corn Tassel and his chiefs and more encroachment onto the Cherokee homeland. Alexander McGillivray, the half blood Creek leader, reacted with great anger when he learned of Tassel's murder. "That barbarian," he wrote, referring to Sevier, "I am told, is meditating another expedition for accomplishing the total extirpation of the Cherokees . . - Really, I don't know what to think of a government that is compelled to wink at such outrages."
  • The Maryland Gazette angrily reported: "Indian chiefs remarkable for their good offices and fidelity, in the darkest situation of our affairs, raised a flag on their part, and came out; they came under the protection of a flag of truce, a protection inviolable even amongst the most barbarous people, sacred by the law and custom of nations, and by the consent of mankind in every age: But under this character, and with the sacred protection of a flag, they were attacked and murdered.""

The Cherokees and Their Chiefs, Stanley Hoig, The University of Arkansas press, 1998


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