Supreme Court of the Cherokee Nation

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The powers and prerogatives of the judiciary of the Cherokee Nation is given in the thirteen sections of article five of the constitution and “The Judges of the supreme court shall each be allowed three dollars per day, while in service in holding court.”

1839. John Martin, Chief Justice, Reverend Jesse Bushyhead and four other unknown associates. Elected by Constitutional convention.

1844. Rev. Jesse Bushyhead, Chief Justice, vice John Martin, died October 17, 1840, and Judge Bushyhead died July 17, 1844. George Hicks elected Chief Justice October 11, 1844 vice Bushyhead. Associated Justices. Thomas Pegg, Moses Parris and David Carter, the latter resigned and John Thompson Adair was elected. Rev. Stephen Foreman elected October 11, 1844.

1847. David McNair Foreman elected Chief Justice October 3. 1847. Associate Justices: Joseph Vann, James Sanders, John Thorne, Nichols Hyars McNair and John Thompson Adair.

1851. David Carter, Chief Justice. Associate justices: Lewis W. Hilldebrand, Riley Keys, Rev. Isaac Sanders, Clement Vann McNair and John Thompson Adair.

1855. Richard Fields, Chief Justice. Associates: Riley Keys, Jesse Russell and Nicholas Byars McNair.

1857. Riley Keys, Chief Justice. Associate Justices: David Carter, John Thompson Adair, Jesse Russell, Thomas Pegg and Louis W. Hildebrand.

1876. John Thompson Adair, Chief Justice. Associate Justices: J. A. Johnson and George Washington Scraper.

1869. John Porum Davis, Chief Justice. Associate Justices: Thomas Teehee and Thomas B. Wolf.

1872. Riley Keys, Chief Justice. Associate Justices: John Shepherd Vann and Redbird Sixkiller.

1875. John Thompson Adair, suspended April 10, 1876, Charles Wickliffe, appointed Chief Justice, then George Washington Scraper appointed Chief Justice, John Landrum, appointed Chief Justice November 10, 1876 and John Thompson Adair was reinstated as Chief Justice by Council on November 18, 1876 and he was again suspended on October 11, 1877. This was part of the wholesale suspending at the instance of W. L. G. Miller.

1877. Ephriam Martin Adair, Chief Justice. Associate Justices: Samuel McDaniel Taylor and John Landrum. The latter died November 7, 1880 and George Washington Parks was elected in his place. Rufus Bell Adair was elected Associate Justice in 1880.

1881. Richard Murrell Wolfe was elected in November 1881 vice Rufus Bell Adair, deceased. David Dixon Landrum and O. H. P. Brown were Associate Justices in 1881. Samuel Adair succeeded O. H. P. Brewer.

1882. May 17, Samuel Adair Bigby, elected Chief Justice vice Ephriam Martin Adair, deceased. Joseph Abalom Scales was elected Chief Justice, November 15, 1882. Associate Justices: Joel Bryan Mayes and Samuel Adair Bigby.

John Wright Alberty was elected Chief Justice in 1883. John Taylor Drew was one of his Associate Justices.

Jackson Christy was elected Chief Justice, March 2, 1885.

James McDaniel Keys was elected Chief Justice in November 1885 and Roach Young was one of his Associate Justices. Joseph Absalom Scales succeeded Keys as Chief Justice. John Edward Gunter succeeded Scales as Chief Justice. John Young, Eli H. Whitmire and Bluford West Alberty were Associate Justices. John Wickliffe succeeded Gunter as Chief Justice. Associate Justice Samuel Adair Bigby died July 29, 1892 and Jeter Thompson Cunningham was appointed on August 4, 1892.

Bluford West Alberty succeeded John Wickliffe as Chief Justice on November 18, 1892.

Robert Wesley Walker was elected Justice in November 1893 and the last supreme court elected November 13, 1897 was John McIntosh, Chief Justice, Jesse Redbird and Cicero Leonidas Lynch, Associated Justices.



MLA Source Citation:

Starr, Emmett. History of the Cherokee Indians and Their Legends and Folk Lore. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma: The Warden Company. 1921 AccessGenealogy.com. Web. 28 July 2014. http://www.accessgenealogy.com/native/supreme-court-of-the-cherokee-nation.htm - Last updated on Aug 12th, 2012


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