Body Politic of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians Created

A postwar photograph of the Cherokee who fought in Thomas's Legion

A postwar photograph of the Cherokee who fought in Thomas’s Legion from the N.C. Museum of History

On December 9, 1868, at a Grand Council held at Cheowa (modern day Robbinsville), the body politic of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI) was created.

Nimrod Jarrett Smith, who served as Clerk of Council during these critical early gatherings, was deeply involved in Cherokee politics.  At age 25, Smith enlisted with William Holland Thomas’s 69th N.C. Volunteer Infantry, also known as the “Thomas’s Legion,” and rose by 1865 to the rank of 1st Sergeant of Company B.  After the Civil War, the Cherokees sought to solidify not only their land holdings, but also their very existence in the state.

On December 1, 1870, the new Cherokee government was ratified at another Grand Council in which Flying Squirrel was elected as the first Principal Chief of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians.  Smith would hold that title from 1880 to 1891.

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