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Timeline / Defining Rights and Responsibilities / 1865: Civil War general Stand Watie, Cherokee, surrenders last

1865: Civil War general Stand Watie, Cherokee, surrenders last

The Cherokee chief Stand Watie is the last Confederate general to surrender in the Civil War. Watie’s raids behind Union lines had distracted and delayed Union troops when they were badly needed at battles. In retribution, the U.S. punishes the Cherokee and peoples of other tribes living in Indian Territory (now known as Oklahoma) by taking away land and doing away with all reservations in Indian Territory—once again breaking earlier governmental agreements and treaties.

In 1835, Watie and three other Cherokee leaders signed the Treaty of New Echota, surrendering Cherokee lands in Georgia and forcing the tribe to move westward into Indian Territory, which is now known as Oklahoma. Four years later, three of the signers were assassinated by other Cherokees who opposed the New Echota treaty, but Watie escaped and remained leader of the minority who had favored the surrender of Cherokee lands.

Federal-Tribal Relations, Land and Water, Native Rights
Great Plains

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Confederate General Stand Watie

Courtesy National Archives and Records Administration

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Map of Oklahoma and Indian Territory, from Harper’s Weekly, May 4, 1899

Courtesy Library of Congress