Native American leader. He was a Cherokee who played a defining role in 19th century Cherokee history and is held in high esteem by all Native Americans. He is remembered for his courageous attempt to stop the forced removal of Indians from their lands east of the Mississippi River. In the years leading up to the War of 1812, he personally rejected the offer of the great Shawnee warrior Tecumseh to side with the British. Instead Junaluska and other Cherokees supported the United States, even fighting alongside Andrew Jackson at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend in 1813 against the British allies, the Redstick Creeks. He personally recruited more than a hundred Cherokees to fight with Jackson. In that battle he turned the tide in favor of the Americans and contributed to the American victory by swimming across the Tallapoosa River to retrieve enemy canoes in order to ferry Cherokee warriors to the other side and attack the enemy from the rear. In that same battle he saved Jackson's life just before a Creek warrior was about to slay Jackson. Later, in the 1830s, he met personally with President Andrew Jackson to plead with him not to remove the Cherokees from the East to Indian Territory (now Oklahoma). His pleas, however, fell on deaf ears. He was among the more than 16,000 Cherokees rounded up and marched to Indian Territory over the bitter winter of 1838 to 1839. More than a quarter of the Cherokees died on the Trail of Tears. Junaluska famously said, "If I had known that Jackson would drive us from our homes, I would have killed him that day at the Horse Shoe." Years later, with the help of friendly whites in North Carolina, he was able to return and settle in the Snowbird Cherokee community in Graham County, North Carolina where he remarried and had more children. He was probably married at least five times in his life. His first wife's name is unknown; his second was Sakih with whom he had a son, Flying Squirrel (Oocolahoh) Saunooke; his third was Walla; his fourth was Tinneh; and his fifth was Nisuh (Nicie) with whom he had two sons, Jimmy (Tsiskwa-Kaluya, or Bird Chopper) and Peter (Sequoyah, or Opossum), and one daughter, Nellie (Nalih). He may have had other children who died young. North Carolina granted him state citizenship in 1847. The state-of-the-art Junaluska Museum is being built in his honor.
Bio by: Sharlotte Neely Donnelly
1795 – unknown