Black Fox (Cherokee chief)

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Black Fox (c. 1746-1811) (also known as Enoli[1] or 'Inali[2]) was a brother-in-law of Dragging Canoe. He was a signatory of the Holston Treaty (2 July 1791). Black Fox was chief of Ustanali town and was the Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation.

He was the leading negotiator for the Cherokee with the United States federal government during his term of office. Black Fox was noted for relinquishing nearly 7,000 square miles (18,000 km2) of land in what is today Tennessee and Alabama, under the treaty of January 7, 1806, for which he was given a lifetime annuity of $100.[2] A controversial leader, he was deposed for a period, only to later be reinstated as Principal Chief, in a compromise between two regional factions of Cherokees. Black Fox initiated the tribal law putting an end to the Cherokee blood law tradition of clan revenge for infractions by individuals.

Principal chief[edit]

Black Fox was a leader of the Cherokee from the native village of Ustanali, in the Lower Towns area (it was located in what today is northeastern Alabama, northwestern Georgia, and their adjoining areas of southeastern Tennessee). He is associated historically with the group known as the Chickamauga Cherokee. They fought against colonial settlers in the Holston area.

In 1801 Black Fox was named by the council of chiefs of the Lower and Upper Towns to succeed Little Turkey as Principal Chief of the original Cherokee Nation.[3] The majority of Cherokee lived in the Lower Towns; they were more isolated from European-American contact and tended to be more conservative, maintaining traditional practices and language.

In 1807, Doublehead, who was then speaker of the National Council, signed a treaty without the authority of the council, ceding all Cherokee land west and north of the Tennessee River. A separate arrangement reserved certain parcels of land for use by Doublehead and his relatives. Doublehead was assassinated shortly afterward. Black Fox confirmed Doublehead's treaty, however, after Return J. Meigs, the United States Indian Agent, promised Black Fox he would receive $1,000 in cash and a regular annuity thereafter.[3]

During his tenure, Black Fox signed several treaties with the United States government on behalf of the Cherokee Nation. He ceded large amounts of land that had served as traditional foraging areas.[citation needed]


In 1808, he and The Glass (Tagwadihi), another leading chief of the Lower Towns chief, were deposed by the "young chiefs". These were men mostly from the Upper Towns, led by James Vann and Major Ridge. The driving force of this revolt was due largely to the peoples' resentment of the National Council's domination by older leaders of the Lower Towns, as well as disagreement over the many recent land cessions. The men of the Upper Towns were multiracial in ancestry; in addition, their communities were more closely engaged by trade and other links with those of the American settlers, whose frontier had continuously encroached on Cherokee territory. The Upper Town chiefs wanted to acknowledge these territorial changes and work more closely with the Americans.


Black Fox and The Glass were eventually reinstated in a compromise agreement between these two competing factions. This put an end to the councils of the Lower Towns meeting alternately in Willstown (near Fort Payne, Alabama) and Turkeytown (near present day Centre, Alabama), which were presided over by The Glass. Black Fox continued in the role of chief until the 1810 bureaucratic split with the "Old Settlers" then living in the west, remaining chief only of the people of the Cherokee Nation–East thereafter.

As the leading member of the National Council, Black Fox signed the law to end the Cherokee tradition of clan revenge (influenced by the murder of Doublehead). Upon his death the following year, he was succeeded by Chief Pathkiller.


  • Black Fox's early hunting camp was located on Lost Creek, in White County, Tennessee. The first European-American settlers in the middle district of Tennessee called one of the principal trails in the county "Black Fox Trail".
  • They named a large group of springs at what is now Murfreesboro, Tennessee "Black Fox Springs".
  • The community of Black Fox in modern Bradley County, Tennessee and its elementary school are named for him. Local historians say he had lived in the area but they are unsure of the dates.
  • The historical Black Fox Crossing ford of the Clinch River between Claiborne and Grainger counties is now covered by the impounded waters of Norris Lake in Tennessee.
  • The community of Inola, Oklahoma was named for him; his Cherokee name was Enoli. The town was designated as the site of Black Fox Nuclear Power Plant, but community opposition forced the Public Service Company of Oklahoma to cancel its plans.[1]


  1. ^ a b O'Dell, Larry. Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture. "Inola." Retrieved February 28, 2013.[1]
  2. ^ a b Donald B. Ricky (2000). Encyclopedia of Mississippi Indians: Tribes, Natives, Treaties of the Southeastern Woodlands Area. North American Book Dist LLC. p. 44. ISBN 978-0-403-09778-4. Retrieved 15 November 2012. 
  3. ^ a b Brown, John P. "Eastern Cherokee Chiefs." In Chronicles of Oklahoma Vol. 16, No. 1. March 1938. Retrieved February 28, 2013.[2]


External links[edit]

Preceded by
Little Turkey
Principal Chief of the original Cherokee Nation
Succeeded by
Title ceased to exist
Preceded by
Title did not exist
Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation–East
Succeeded by