John Ross Is Born

John Ross, long-time leader of the Cherokee Nation, was born on October 3, 1790, in Cherokee territory now part of Alabama.

He grew up near Lookout Mountain on the Tennessee-Georgia border. Ross served as president of the Cherokee's National Committee (their legislature) from 1819 to 1826, as delegate to the Cherokee constitutional convention in 1827, as principal chief of the Cherokee Nation from 1828 to 1839, and finally as principal chief of the United Cherokee Nation from 1839 until his death in 1866. In these roles, he successfully led the Cherokee people through some of their most difficult circumstances.

Although his father was Scottish and his mother was of mixed descent, John Ross grew up as a full-fledged member of the Cherokee community. Known as Tsan Usdi (Little John) in his youth, he acquired the Cherokee name Kooweskoowe at adulthood. His parents also provided him with a European-based education, at first through a private tutor at home and later at an academy in South West Point (now Kingston), Tennessee. Thus Ross learned to function fully in white society while maintaining strong Cherokee ties. He later used his knowledge of both cultures to his peoples' advantage during repeated negotiations with the U.S. government.

John Ross (October 3, 1790 - August 1, 1866), also known as Guwisguwi (a mythological or rare migratory bird), was Principal Chief of the Cherokee Native American Nation from 1828-1860. Described as the Moses of his people, Ross led the Nation through tumultuous years of development, relocation to Oklahoma, and the American Civil War.