Pathkiller, (c 1720 to January 8, 1828) was a Cherokee warrior, town chief, and Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation. He also served as a colonel under Andrew Jackson in the Tennessee militia during the Creek War.

Warrior lifeEdit

Pathkiller (with some backing by Britain) fought against the Overmountain Men and American Wataugan frontiersmen settled in the Washington District at the outbreak of the American Revolutionary War. Afterward, he joined with Dragging Canoe and the Chickamauga Cherokee faction fighting in the Cherokee–American wars, until the conclusion of hostilities in 1794.

Pathkiller fought for Morgan's "Regiment of Cherokees" commanded by Colonel Gideon Morgan against the Red Stick Indian uprising during the Creek War (October 7, 1813—April 11, 1814), a frontier extension of the War of 1812.[1]

Cherokee national leaderEdit

Pathkiller was the last hereditary chief of the Cherokee. He was the Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation (from 1811–1828).[2]

A description of Cherokee Council sessions was given by the missionary, Ard Hoyt, on a visit to the seat of Cherokee government in October, 1818:

On entering, I observed the King [Path Killer] seated on a rug, at one end of the room, having his back supported by a roll of blankets. He is a venerable looking man, 73 years old; his hair nearly white. At his right hand, on one end of the same rug or mat, sat brother Hicks. The chiefs were seated in chairs, in a semicircle, each facing the king. Behind the chiefs a number of the common people were standing listening to a conversation, in which the king and chiefs were engaged.

A possible burial site of Pathkiller exists in a cemetery found in the old Cherokee Nation capital of New Echota

After 1813, the de facto authority in the Cherokee Nation had shifted to Charles R. Hicks, who was the first chief of partial European descent. Pathkiller remained chief (in title only) through 1828, basically a figurehead. Pathkiller and Hicks both were mentors to John Ross, having identified the talented young mixed-blood Cherokee of Scots-Irish descent as the future leader of the Cherokee people. After the tribe formed a constitutional republic, Ross was elected principal chief in 1828.[2]

Burial sitesEdit

There is a grave site for chief Pathkiller (died January 8, 1828)[3] in the woods just outside the fenced Garrett family cemetery[4] next to the Coosa River in Centre, Cherokee County, Alabama.[5][6] This is in close proximity to his known residence at the time of his death and near the former Turkeytown, where he was chief. There is also a second, monument-style table-tomb burial site for a Colonel Pathkiller (died 1827)—which was previously recorded in the region as a tomb of an "unknown Indian"—located in the present day Calhoun, Georgia area, at the site of the old Cherokee town of New Echota.[5]


  1. ^ Frank Owsley; "Struggle for the Gulf Borderlands: The Creek War and the Battle of New Orleans, 1812–1815"; Gainesville, FL; University Presses of Florida; 1981; pp. 64-67.
  2. ^ a b Arrell Morgan Gibson, Oklahoma, A History of Five Centuries, University of Oklahoma Press, 1981, p. 65
  3. ^ History of Hamilton Co. TN, Vol. 1; Armstrong, Zella; records of St. Clair, Alabama, p. 30
  4. ^ Note: the former location of Garrett's Ferry, Alabama
  5. ^ a b Pathkiller's Two Burial Sites
  6. ^ Mrs. Frank Ross Stewart; "Cherokee County History 1836-1956", Volume 1; Centre, Alabama; 1958; p 206.
Preceded by
Black Fox
Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation–East
Succeeded by
Charles R. Hicks