The Nikwasi Treaty

During their visit, an artist identified only as Markham painted a group portrait of the Cherokee representatives. The subsequent etching by Isaac Basire was widely distributed. This copy is held by MESDA.

On April 3, 1730, Scotsman Sir Alexander Cuming was present at a meeting of Cherokee leaders at the council house at Nikwasi. With Cuming’s support and apparent influence among the Indians, local headman Moytoy was selected to be “Emperor of the Cherokee.” Moytoy and Cuming then persuaded those present to pledge their allegiance to King George II. In a ceremony of friendship and possibly of political adoption, the Indians presented Cuming with the “Crown of Tannassy,” a dyed possum-hair headdress. It is likely Moytoy and the other leaders believed that the gesture would create a link between the Cherokee and the British.

Shortly thereafter, Cuming, with a group of Cherokee representatives traveled to England where they presented the king with the Crown, some eagles’ tail feathers and scalps. The group included the young warrior who would become known as Attakullakulla, or Little Carpenter. The Indians were then coerced into signing “Articles of Friendship and Commerce.”

Cuming petitioned to be made an official ambassador to the Cherokee, but his request was denied.  He left interesting memoirs of his time among the Indians, including the tale that he was crowned King of the Cherokee, but scholars have more recently re-interpreted the events to include the Cherokee perspective.

Other related resources:

For more about North Carolina’s history, arts and culture, visit Cultural Resources online. To receive these updates automatically each day, make sure you subscribe by email using the box on the right, and follow us on FacebookTwitter and Pinterest.