Scope and Contents
This collection, which was compiled by David Farmer and Rennard Strickland, principally consists of photocopied research materials concerning John Rollin Ridge used in their book, A Trumpet of Our Own, published in 1981.
Use and Copyright
This material is owned by the University of Tulsa, McFarlin Library, Department of Special Collections. Unpublished manuscripts are under copyright. Therefore, permission to publish, quote, or reproduce must be secured from both the repository and the copyright holder.
Biographical / Historical
John Rollin Ridge, sometimes known by his Cherokee name of Cheesquatalawny (or Yellow Bird) was born March 19, 1827 and died October 5, 1867. He is considered to have been considered by many to have been the first Native American novelist. His father and grandfather, John Ridge and Major Ridge, both signed the Treaty of New Echota which ultimately led to the Trail of Tears and the Cherokee Removal. Both these men were murdered in front of John Rollin Ridge in 1839 by supporters of Cherokee leader John Ross, who had vehemently protested the treaty. After the murder, he moved with his mother to Fayetteville, Arkansas.
He attended the Great Barrington School in Massachusetts between 1843 and 1845, then returned to Fayetteville to study law. In 1847, he married Elizabeth Wilson and they had a daughter, Alice, in 1848. After killing David Kell, a Ross sympathizer, he went to Missouri, then California for the California Gold Rush. While there, he wrote essays for the Democratic Party before writing what is now considered the first Native American novel and the first novel written in California, The Life and Adventures of Joaquin Murieta: The Celebrated California Bandit (1854). He worked for the Sacramento Bee and The San Francisco Herald, among other publications.
Politically he advocated assimilationist policies for American Indians, owned slaves in Arkansas, and a staunch "Copperhead" opposed both the election of Abraham Lincoln as well as the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation, and blamed the Civl War on the Abolitionists.
During early Recconstruction period, the Federal Government invited Ridge was invited to lead the Southern Cherokee delegation in the postwar treaty proceedings, where he tried to get the Cherokee region admitted as a state. He died in Grass Valley, California in 1867.