Major Ridge was born 1750 in Georgia to Tahchee Raven (1736-1828) and Oganotota (1740-) and died 22 June 1812 in Sugar Hill, Arkansas of Assasination. He married Susannah Catherine Wickett (1750-1849) circa 1774 in Georgia.

Major Ridge (aka:Pathkiller II, Nunnehidihi, or Ganundalegi) was a Cherokee warrior/leader, allied to General Andrew Jackson in the Creek and Seminole Wars. He played a major role in forced removal of the Cherokee nation and the infamous Trail of Tears to Oklahoma in 1837.

Biography Edit

Major Ridge, The Ridge (and sometimes Pathkiller II) (c. 1771 – June 22, 1839) (also known as Nunnehidihi, and later Ganundalegi) was a Cherokee leader, a member of the tribal council, a Chickamauga warrior, and a lawmaker. As a warrior, he fought in the Chickamauga Wars against the American frontiersmen. Later, Major Ridge led the Cherokee in alliances with General Andrew Jackson and the United States in the Creek and Seminole Wars.

Along with Charles R. Hicks and James Vann, Ridge was part of the "Cherokee triumvirate," a group of younger chiefs in the early nineteenth century Cherokee Nation who supported acculturation and other changes in how the people dealt with the United States. All were of mixed race and had some exposure to European-American culture, but identified as Cherokee. Ridge became a wealthy planter, slave owner and ferryman.

Under increasing pressure for removal from the federal government, Ridge and others of the minority Treaty Party signed the controversial Treaty of New Echota of 1835. They believed removal was inevitable and tried to protect Cherokee rights. It required the Cherokee to cede their remaining lands in the Southeast to the US and relocate to the Indian Territory. Opponents protested to the US government and negotiated a new treaty the following year, but were still forced to accept removal.

After Indian Removal to what is now Oklahoma, in 1839 Major Ridge, his son John, and nephew Elias Boudinot were assassinated by tribal members under Cherokee Blood Law for alienating the land, as were other Treaty Party members. Attacked the same day, Boudinot's younger brother Stand Watie survived; in 1842 killed one of the attackers. In 1845 opponents retaliated, killing his younger brother Thomas Watie.

Early Life Edit

Ridge was born into the Deer clan of his mother, Oganotota (O-go-nuh-to-tua), a Scots-Cherokee woman, in the Cherokee town of Great Hiwassee, along the Hiwassee River (an area later part of Tennessee). His father was believed to be full-blood Cherokee. His maternal grandfather was a Scots trader who returned to Europe and left a Cherokee wife and daughter behind in America.

He was the third son born, but the first to survive to adulthood. He had two younger brothers, one of whom became known as David Uwatie (or Watie). From his early years, Ridge was taught patience and self-denial, and to endure fatigue. On reaching the proper age, he was initiated as a warrior. The Cherokee believed that a man's achievements as a warrior were a sign of his spiritual power and part of his leadership.

Ridge had no formal education. Although he was a dynamic speaker, he could neither read nor write. He appreciated the value of education and believed that the Cherokees must learn to communicate with the white man and to understand their ways in order to survive as a nation. He sent his son, John, to a mission boarding school at Springhill.

Until the end of the Chickamauga Wars, the young man was known as Nunnehidihi, meaning "He Who Slays The Enemy In His Path" or "The Pathkiller" (not the same as the chief of the same name). Later he was named Ganundalegi (other spellings include Ca-Nun-Tah-Cla-Kee, Ca-Nun-Ta-Cla-Gee, and Ka-Nun-Tah-Kla-Gee), meaning "The Man Who Walks On The Mountain Top." White men knew him by the simplified English name, "The Ridge".

Marriage and Family Edit

In 1792 Ridge married Sehoya, also known as Suzannah Catherine Wickett, a mixed-blood Cherokee of the Wild Potato clan.[5] Her name was also spelled Sehoyah; she was the daughter of Kate Parris and Ar-tah-ku-ni-sti-sky ("Wickett"). The couple had several children, including John Ridge. They sent him in 1819 as a young man to Cornwall, Connecticut to be educated in European-American classical studies at the Foreign Mission School.

After the Chickamauga Wars, the Ridges lived in Oothcaloga, near the modern city of Calhoun, Georgia. In 1819, they moved near the town of Chatuga (Modern-day Rome, GA)at the confluence of the Oostanaula and Etowah Rivers. The family's house has been adapted as the Chieftain's Museum. It was near the home of Ridge's protégé, John Ross.

Children of Major Ridge Edit

  1. John Ridge (1802-1839) - 'Skatlelohski, son of Major Ridge, statesman and signer of New Echota Treaty signer, assassinated by opponents. Major Ridge believed in education and sent his oldest son to schools in New England. He was assassinated alongside his father at Sugar Hill.
  2. Nancy Ridge (1801-1817) - was married to a young baptist missionary, William Richey (1796-1879), living with the Cherokee tribe in Georgia. She died in childbirth.
  3. Sarah Ridge (1802-1850) -
  4. Walter Ridge (1804-1851) -

Grandchildren Edit

  • John Rollin Ridge, Cheesquatalawny, or "Yellow Bird" (1827–1867), grandson of Major Ridge, first Native American novelist.

Georgia Plantation Edit

After the war, Ridge moved his family to the Cherokee town of Head of Coosa (present-day Rome, Georgia). He developed a plantation, became a wealthy planter and owned 30 African-American slaves as laborers. The plantation consisted of nearly three hundred clared acres whose main cash crop was corn, tobacco and cotton. He built his house, which has been adapted as the Chieftains Museum.

Trail of Tears Edit

Ridge had long opposed U.S. government proposals for the Cherokee to sell their lands and remove to the West. But, Georgia efforts to suppress the Cherokee government and the pressure of rapidly expanding European-American settlements caused him to change his mind. Advised by his son John Ridge, Major Ridge came to believe the best way to preserve the Cherokee Nation was to get good terms from the U.S. government and preserve their rights in Indian Territory. On December 29, 1835, Ridge made his mark on the Treaty of New Echota, which ceded the remainder of Cherokee tribal land east of the Mississippi River for land in Indian Territory, to be supplemented by the payment of annuities for a period of time, plus support from the government in terms of supplies, tools and food. The tribe was bitterly divided. Reportedly, Ridge said as he finished, "I have signed my death warrant." The National Party of Chief John Ross and a majority of the Cherokee National Council rejected the treaty, but it was ratified by the US Senate. The next year Ross negotiated changes with the US government, but essentially Cherokee removal was confirmed.

Ridge, his family, and many other Cherokee emigrated to the West in March 1837. The treaty had been signed in December 1835 and was amended and ratified in March 1836. Georgia put Cherokee lands in a lottery and auctioned them off; settlers started arriving and squatting on Cherokee-occupied land. Georgia supported the settlers against the Cherokee. After 1838, the US government forcibly rounded up the remaining Cherokee (along with their slaves) on tribal lands. They were the last people to make the journey that became known as the "Trail of Tears," during which nearly 4,000 Cherokee died.

Accompanied by his wife, daughter, and one of son John's children Major Ridge left the ancestral Cherokee land on March 3, 1837, and traveled by flatboat and steamer to a place in Indian Territory called Honey Creek, near the Arkansas-Missouri Border. The land Ridge had chosen was fifty miles from the territory assigned to the Cherokees. He no longer wished to live among his people. John Ridge and Major Ridge's cousin Elias Boudinot, followed six months later

Assassination Edit

In the West, the Ross faction blamed Ridge and the other signers of the Treaty of New Echota for alienating communal land, which they considered a capital crime, and for the hardships of removal. In June 1839, Cherokee assassinated Major Ridge, his son John, and nephew Elias Boudinot. They attacked Elias' brother Stand Watie, but he survived. Other Treaty Party members were later killed, starting a wave of violence within the nation.

Among Ridge's killers was Bird Doublehead. Ridge had killed his father Chief Doublehead under orders by the National Council. Another of his killers was James Foreman, Bird's half-brother. In 1842 Stand Watie, Ridge's nephew, killed Foreman. In 1845 opponents killed his younger brother, Thomas Watie, part of the cycle of retaliatory violence that resulted in the deaths of all the Watie family males of that generation. Stand Watie survived the violence of the 1840s, when the Cherokee conflict descended into virtual civil war. In the 1850s, Watie was tried in Arkansas for Foreman's murder but was acquitted on grounds of self-defense; he was defended by his brother Elias' son, Elias Cornelius Boudinot.

Tribal divisions were exacerbated by the outbreak of the American Civil War. Many Cherokee supported the Confederacy, whose officials had suggested they would recognize an Indian state if successful in creating an independent nation. Stand Watie served as Principal Chief (1862-1866) of the pro-Confederate Cherokee after Ross and many Union-supporters withdrew to another location. He served as a Confederate general and was the last to surrender to Union troops.

Ridge and his son John are buried in Polson Cemetery in Delaware County, Oklahoma. After his nephew Stand Watie died later of natural causes, he was buried near them.


Offspring of Major Ridge and Susannah Catherine Wickett (1750-1849)
Name Birth Death Joined with
John Ridge (1802-1839)
Nancy Ridge (1801-1817) 1801 Calhoun, Georgia September 1818 Georgia William Richey (1796-1879)

Sarah Ridge (1802-1850)
Walter Ridge (1804-1851)


References Edit

Category:Cherokee Warriors