The Cherokee were nothing like the savage, nomadic, hunter-gatherers portrayed in movies and TV. The Cherokee never lived in tipis; they have never worn feathered headdresses (except maybe to please tourists); they didn’t ride horses until the Europeans brought them over; there were no Cherokee princesses; they didn’t follow the buffalo around; the “squaw” didn’t humbly follow ten paces behind her husband; they didn’t worship a panoply of gods; they weren’t, by any definition of the word, savages.
The turmoil of the Cherokee–American wars resulted in displacement of vast numbers of Cherokee removed westward, both voluntarily and involuntarily, from their more easterly ancient homes. Also, European traders in the Southeast—mostly Scottish, but also English, Irish, German, even French—had married Cherokee women as well as those of other tribes for several decades. Their children belonged to the mother and her clan and were considered Cherokee.
The first change legislated by the National Council of the Cherokee Nation actually took place a few years before the beginning of the 19th century, when in 1797 it ruled that clans no longer had to redress deaths that were judged to be accidental, and also abolished the practice of substituting one clan member for another to answer for the death of a person from another clan if the person so culpable could not be obtained. The Ridge, who had joined the Council as the representative from Pine Log town, the previous year, initiated these changes.
The Ridge also helped bring about the second major revision to the Cherokee “Blood Law”, which was provoked largely by the assassination of Doublehead at the Hiwassee Garrison near the Cherokee Agency (now Calhoun, Tennessee) in August 1807. The stated reason was Doublehead’s involvement in making private deals to sell off Cherokee land. The killers were he and Alexander Sanders, the two of them having to stand in for James Vann, who was too drunk to accomplish the task.
Much more wide-sweeping changes came with the first printed law in the Cherokee Nation, passed by the National Council on September 11, 1808. A major reform designed and pushed forward by the young chiefs’ “Cherokee Triumvirate” (James Vann, Charles R. Hicks, and The Ridge), its primary prescriptive feature was setting up a Light Horse Guard of several teams over the whole Nation to act as “regulating parties”, and also provided for a system of patrilineal inheritance alongside the matrilineal inheritance system of the clans. Major Ridge served as the first commander of the Light Horse Guard. Proscriptively, it further restricted clan retaliation.
In the Act of Oblivion on April 18, 1810, the National Council completely eradicated clan retaliation from Cherokee law, repudiated matrilineal inheritance, and referred to husbands/fathers in the Nation as the heads of household.
In 1825 the Cherokee Council passed a law admitting children of a mixed marriages in which the father was Cherokee and the mother white to the tribe as if their mother were Cherokee.

last edited by Peyton