JUNALUSKA AND ANDREW JACKSON: A Hero and a Scoundrel

JUNALUSKA AND ANDREW JACKSON: A Hero and a Scoundrel

By Dr. Lorin Swinehart

 

Andrew JacksonDuring the 1814 Battle of Horseshoe Bend in Alabama, a Creek POW being interrogated by Major General Andrew Jackson lunged at him with a knife. The Cherokee chief Junaluska tripped the attacker, saving Jackson’s life, an act of heroism that he was later to repent.

In 1811, ignoring the entreaties of the great Shawnee leader Tecumseh that all native peoples must stand together in opposition to white intrusion, many of the five so-called “civilized” southern tribes, including the Cherokee and the Lower Creek, believing themselves safe because they had adopted the ways of invading Europeans, joined the 39th US Infantry, commanded by Jackson.

The Upper Creek, known as Red Sticks for their brightly colored war clubs, instead, chose war and began attacking settlements, firing the bastion inside Fort Mims where up to 517 people had sought refuge, and spreading panic among the white population. The US military responded with even more heinous actions, defeating the Red Sticks at Horseshoe Bend.

After the battle, Jackson supervised the mutilation of 800 corpses, cutting off tips of noses to record the number of dead and slicing long strips from human bodies to tan and turn into reins for horses. According to David Crockett, one platoon of Jackson’s soldiers set fire to a house and burned 46 Creek alive. Later, they cooked potatoes in human fat and ate them, adding cannibalism to their offenses.

On the way home from the war, Jackson permitted his troops to shoot Cherokee livestock and terrorize Cherokee civilians. He stole 2,000,000 acres of Cherokee land for himself. He spent the next twenty years in a quest to totally rid the nation of all Native Americans, including the Cherokees and Choctaws, who had been the most loyal to the US.

Jackson once ordered his troops to kill all the Indian children they could find. Failure to do so would cause group survival. After leaving the presidency, Jackson continued to urge the slaughter of Indian children in order to totally eradicate Native Americans. He always referred to Indians as “savage dogs” and bragged, “I have on all occasions preserved the scalps of my killed.”

Jackson owned slaves and regarded those of African descent as lesser humans. Of Native Americans, he argued, “They have neither the intelligence, the industry, the moral habits, nor the desire of improvement which is essential to a favorable change in their condition.”

Jackson was responsible for the Trail of Tears, when thousands of Cherokees were removed from their Georgia homeland and forced to march west to what is now Oklahoma, causing the deaths of 50% of the men, women and children. When the Supreme Court decided in favor of the Indians in the 1832 case of Worster v. Georgia, Jackson committed an impeachable offense by refusing to enforce the law. Former President Adams, then serving in Congress, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Congressman David Crockett vehemently opposed the Indian Removal Act of 1830.

Junaluska met with Jackson to plead on behalf of his people, reminding him that he, a Cherokee, had once saved his life. Jackson coldly responded, “Sir, your audience has ended, there is nothing I can do for you.”

Junaluska was imprisoned in a concentration camp at Fort Montgomery before being forced to trek westward to Oklahoma. He later returned to North Carolina, where he was made a citizen and granted land as a reward for his military service. He rests in his beloved homeland.

Jackson returned home to his plantation to die in his own bed, unrepentant to the end. His image on our currency should be as offensive to African-Americans and Native Americans as the likeness of Heinrich Himmler printed on a Euro would be to Jews. Junaluska’s name graces a beautiful mountain and lake in western North Carolina.

It has been suggested that the picture of Alexander Hamilton be removed from our currency and replaced by that of a woman. Perhaps it is time to consider removing Jackson and replacing him with either his longstanding adversary John Quincy Adams, a man of intellect and integrity, with Junaluska, the man he so cruelly betrayed, or even with Davey Crockett.


For more information about Lake Chapala visit: chapala.com


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