John (Colonel) Duwa'li Bowles, Principal Chief

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John (Colonel) Duwa'li Bowles ("The Bowl"), Principal Chief

Also Known As: "Chief Duwali", "Chief Bold Hunter", "Diwali Bowls", "Bowl"
Birthplace: Little Hiwasee, Cherokee Territory
Death: Died in Texas, USA
Cause of death: Killed at the Battle (massacre) of the Neches; shot in the head by Capt. Bob Smith
Immediate Family:

Son of Trader Bowles, of Scotland and Oo Yo Sti Otiyu
Husband of Unknown wife of John Bowles; Jenny Bowles; Oo-Ti-Yu Bowles and Oo-loo-tsa (Lucy) Bowles
Father of Standing in the Middle Bowles; John Bowles, Jr.; French Bowles; Nellie Bowles; Standing Bowles and 12 others
Brother of Rayetaeh Utisdgata Onitostah Coody; Nannie Bowles; Rebecca Guess; Long Warrior of Tanasi, Uku; Kahyanteehee and 4 others

Managed by: Pam Wilson
Last Updated:

About John (Colonel) Duwa'li Bowles, Principal Chief

Dianna Everett, "BOWL," Handbook of Texas Online (, accessed August 02, 2015. Uploaded on June 12, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

BOWL (ca. 1756–1839). Chief Bowl (also known as Duwali, Diwal'li, Chief Bowles, Colonel Bowles, Bold Hunter, and the Bowl), the principal chief of the Cherokees in Texas, was born in North Carolina around 1756. He was the son of a Scottish father and a full-blooded Cherokee mother. Duwali was leader of a village at Little Hiwassee (in western North Carolina). In 1791 he signed the Treaty of Holston, and in 1805 he signed an unauthorized cession treaty, a move that proved unpopular with the majority of Cherokees. In early 1810, to access better hunting ground and to escape growing pressures of settlement in the southern states, he and his band moved across the Mississippi River and settled in the St. Francis River valley, near New Madrid, Missouri. In 1812–13 his people moved into northwestern Arkansas, south of the Arkansas River, and in 1819 they once more moved on, stopping briefly in southwestern Arkansas and at the three forks of the Trinity River before settling north of Nacogdoches. In Texas Chief Bowl became the primary "civil" chief or "peace chief" of a council that united several Cherokee villages. In 1822 he sent diplomatic chief Richard Fields to Mexico to negotiate with the Spanish government for a land grant or title to land occupied by Cherokees in East Texas. In 1827 he cooperated with the Mexican government in putting down the Fredonian Rebellion. In 1833 he made another attempt to secure from the Mexican government land on the Angelina, Neches, and Trinity rivers, but negotiations were interrupted by political unrest in Texas. In February of 1836 Sam Houston negotiated a treaty with Bowl's council, guaranteeing the tribe possession of lands occupied in East Texas. After the Texas Revolution, however, the treaty was invalidated by the Senate of the Republic of Texas. In desperation, Bowl briefly allied with agents soliciting allies for a Mexican reinvasion of Texas. Shortly thereafter, President Mirabeau B. Lamar ordered him and his people to leave Texas. After negotiations failed, Bowl mobilized his warriors to resist expulsion. On July 16, 1839, Chief Bowl was killed in the battle of the Neches. On this site, the scene of the last engagement between the Cherokees and whites in Texas, the state of Texas erected a marker in 1936.


  • Mary Whatley Clarke, Chief Bowles and the Texas Cherokees (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1971). Dianna Everett, The Texas Cherokees: A People between Two Fires, 1819–1840 (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1990). Dorman Winfrey, "Chief Bowles and the Texas Cherokees," Chronicles of Oklahoma 32 (Spring 1954). E. W. Winkler, "The Cherokee Indians in Texas," Quarterly of the Texas State Historical Association 7 (October 1903). Albert Woldert, "The Last of the Cherokees in Texas and the Life and Death of Chief Bowles," Chronicles of Oklahoma 1 (June 1923).

A Biography of Duwa'li (Chief Bowles) 1756-1836

researched by Sibyl Creasey & Betty Miller

Chief Duwa'li Bowles played a prominent part in the history of Van Zandt County, Texas. Duwa'li was born in 1756. He was the son of a Scotch-Irish father and a Cherokee Indian mother. He had red hair, was slightly freckled and his skin possessed a slight coat of tan.

In 1794, when Duwa'li was Chief of Running Water, Tennessee the American government had begun to give the Indians annuities and supplies. Chief Duwa'li and a small group of Indians went to the government post to pick up their allotments. On their way home they met some white traders with their families. The white men traded the Indians some whiskey and the Indians got drunk. The traders then proceeded to trade for all the supplies, giving very little in return. After becoming sober the Indians realized what had happened and asked the white traders to return their supplies but they refused. A battle ensued in which all the white traders were killed. However, the Indians took the white women and children to safety. Later they decided they should leave that country for fear of reprisal.

Duwa'li and his people then settled in the southern part of what is now Missouri where they remained for 18 years. During their stay their numbers increased and the entire area became known as the Cherokee Nation West.

In 1811 and 1812 Missouri was shaken by terrible tremors known later as the New Madrid Earthquake. The Indians believed a curse had been placed on the land so Duwa'li led his people into Arkansas where they remained unmolested until 1817.

At this time the government designated the territory between the White and Arkansas Rivers for the Indians and all Indians were ordered to move to that area.

Duwa'li took 60 warriors and their families into Spanish-owned Texas. They settled along the three forks of the Trinity River, around Dallas. They soon learned that they had made a mistake. The wild Plains Indians made daring raids and within a short time Duwa'li had lost one-third of his warriors.

They then migrated to the wooded hills section of East Texas and settled north of Henderson. The Mexican government agreed to give them titles to the land, but the titles were not clear. The Cherokees shortly organized about 12 of the weaker tribes into an organization that was later known as The Cherokees and Their Associate Bands. The Cherokees soon grew in numbers mostly from the eastern refugee Indians and spread into Cherokee and Smith Counties.

The Cherokee were different from the wild Indians in that they lived in log cabins, farmed the land and raised livestock. They sold corn to the people in Nacogdoches. They also used guns and were good marksmen.

The Cherokee weren't feared until the Texas Revolution against Mexico began. At that time, Sam Houston and several other Texans made a treaty with the Cherokees which gave them an area north of the Old San Antonio Road and with the Neches River on the west and the Angelina River on the east as the boundary line. The lines extended to the Sabine River. The twelve associated tribes had been promised 1.5 million acres for their home by Texas President Sam Houston. However, after the war, the Republic of Texas Congress refused to ratify that treaty and declared it null and void. Sam Houston always maintained that the treaty was binding.

Shortly after the Republic of Texas was set up, the Indians became concerned about the titles to their lands. In the 2 years of the first term of President Sam Houston, he was able to keep the Indians pacified. However, when Mirabeau Bonaparte Lamar became President of the republic of Texas; he had a different attitude toward the Cherokees. President Lamar announced that he was reclaiming this land.

After the Killough Massacre, President Lamar ordered two companies of soldiers to occupy the Neches Saline to keep an eye on the Cherokees. Chief Duwa'li made the mistake of forcing them to withdraw.

A Mexican emissary named Flores was killed in a skirmish. He was carrying a letter to Chief Bowles that was interpreted from it's contents to mean that Boles was in league with Mexican officials. Sam Houston was not convinced that this was true.

President Lamar and his advisers decided that the Cherokees should be removed from Texas. General Albert Sidney Johnston was sent to arrange for their removal, peaceably, it was hoped.

Martin Lacy, the Indian agent was sent to confer with Chief Bowles, who lived about 2.5 miles northwest of what is now Alto.

Lacy arrived at Bowles' village with John H. Reagan, Dr. W. G. W. Jowers, and an interpreter named Cordra. Bowles received them politely and seated them on a log a short distance from his cabin near a spring. Lacy accused the Indians of stealing, committing certain murders and of cooperating with Mexican rebels. He also stated that Texans would pay the Indians for the relocating move and for their improvements but nothing for the land.

Duwa'li denied the allegations, said the murders were committed by wild Indians. Bowles further stated that he could not give an answer until he had called a council of the Indians. Lacy granted him a week or ten days to give his answer.

When Lacy returned for Bowles' reply, the old chief was very grave. The entire council, with the exception of Big Mush and himself, wanted to fight for their rights. The 83 year old chief said that in the course of nature he probably had few years to live, and he was concerned about his three wives and children. Bowles ended by saying, "If I fight, the whites will kill me. If I refuse to fight, my own people will kill me. I have led my people for a long time and I feel that it is my duty to stand by them regardless of what fate might befall me."

July 16, 1839 is the date of the last battle fought between the Texas Cavalry and Cherokee in Texas. The battle began on July 15. On July 16, Chief Bowles signaled retreat, few were left to flee. Chief Bowles was shot in the leg and his horse was wounded. The Chief climbed down from his horse and started to walk from the battlefield. He was shot in the back. The 83 year old chief sat down crossing his arms and legs facing the company of militia. The captain of the militia walked to where the Chief sat, placed a pistol to his head and killed him. Cavalry members took strips of skin from his arms as souvenirs. His body was left where it lay. No burial ever took place. No funeral service was held for Chief Duwa'li Bowles until some 156 years after his death. On Sunday, July 16, 1995 descendents of the tribes and their friends met to honor Chief Duwa'li Bowles with a funeral service, and to remember the others whose lives were also lost in this battle. This funeral was held on the site of the Battle of the Neches in Van Zandt County, Texas.

On November 25, 1997, the American Indian Heritage Center of Texas, Inc., a Texas nonprofit organization purchased the land where the Battle of the Neches was fought in Van Zandt County, Texas near the community of Redland.

History of Tsalagiyi Nvdagi (Texas Cherokee)

by D. L. Utsidihi Hicks

Chief Diwali, "Bowl" also known in history as "Bowles," born around 1756 in the Cherokee town of Little Hiwasee, located in the western edge of what is now North Carolina, was interested in leaving tribal lands and moving to Spanish territory. His mother was Cherokee and his father is believed to be a Scottish Indian trader. Diwali was a follower of the great War Chief Dragging Canoe and had been a war chief among the Chicamaugas. When the Chicamauga towns were destroyed by the Americans in 1794, Diwali returned to his home in Little Hiwasee.

Around 1809, Chief Diwali and Chief Tsulawi, "Fox" with about seventy-five people migrated west. They crossed the Mississippi River and located near the old Spanish trading center of New Madrid. The people were given land and they proceeded to plant their crops and build homes. Other Cherokees joined them and the band grew in population. They were at peace with the Spanish.

In 1811, the largest earthquake in modern times hit near New Madrid. The disaster devastated Diwali and his people. They had arrived in a peaceful land and an act of Nature shook them. Their anidawehi, "religious leaders" told them Unequa, "Great Being or Spirit" wanted them to leave that place. They left their homes and fields behind and moved further west to join other Cherokees along the Saint Francis and White Rivers in the Arkansas Territory.

Unknown to Diwali and his people, the Americans had taken control of the land that they were now on in 1803 when they purchased the Louisiana Territory. This did not sit well with the red men when they learned of this. They knew it would not be long before the white man would come to this land.

The U. S. Government set up tribal land in Arkansas after the Louisiana Purchase. As more and more white settlers began to come into Arkansas Territory, the United States government demanded the Cherokees and other Indians move their towns and people north of the White River to new reservations. The reservations of small land would contain the Indians and give more land to the white settlers. Diwali held out as long as he could, but was intimidated by the whites to move his people. He finally left the Arkansas Territory, leaving behind his old friend Chief Tatsi, known as "Dutch" by the whites and his people. The two old warriors had combined forces to make war on the Osage Indians. So Much that it had upset American officials.

In 1819, Diwali moved his people south, across the Red River into Spanish Territory, to an area called Lost Prairie. This was the first known permanent settlement of a band of Cherokees in Texas. They lived there and planted and gathered two seasons of crops during the years of 1819-20. The Indians were forced to leave because of white settlers along the Red River. They moved to the forks of the Trinity River, which is that area of present day Dallas Texas. During their one year in that area, they received much trouble from the Taovaya Indians over hunting rights. The Cherokee were once again forced to leave their homes and crops to move further south into Spanish Territory. Diwali sought and was given the right by that government to settle fifty miles north of the old Stone Fort, located in Nacogdoches, Texas. The group arrived just before the planting season of 1822. Other Cherokee from the "Old Country" joined this group. A number of towns were set up in the East Texas area of what is now known as Cherokee, Smith, Rusk, Anderson, Van Zant, Greg, Upshire, Wood, Hopkins, and Rain Counties, to name a few.

Diwali and his people were very traditional and had not accepted the liberal ways of the tribe they left at home in the "Old Country." They practiced Clan Law and the ancient religious beliefs and customs of their ancestors.

All positions of leadership were elected offices in the Cherokee tribe and everyone, including women, voted on their leaders. Diwali was elected the Ugu, or "Head Chief" of the Cherokee in Texas. At times he served as Head Chief and War Chief combined, and because of his great leadership he was always re-elected as Ugu. All town leaders of this new government were then elected. The warriors in each town elected their war chiefs. They now were set up as a national government in Texas and their leader was called the Ugu, as was the national leader of the tribe.

Over the next few years, other displaced Indian tribes from the United States moved into the area to clear old Caddo Indian fields, to plant crops and build permanent homes. Diwali was appointed by the Spanish to be the administrative head of all Indians in East Texas. When the Mexicans won their independence from Spain in 1823, the Mexican Government affirmed the rights of the Cherokee and other Indian tribes to live on their land in Texas.


The 83 year-old Cherokee Chief Bowles (Chief Duwali or Bold Hunter) and about 800 Indians (around 600 being women, children, and the elderly) from various tribes including many Cherokees were killed in the Battle of the Neches on July 15-16, 1839, less than one month after Major Ridge, Elias Boudinot, and John Ridge were murdered.

Unlike Texas' first President Sam Houston, Mirabeau B. Lamar, the second president of the Republic of Texas, wanted the Indians out of East Texas and the result was a massacre near the Neches River. The historical marker erected in 1936 is 13.5 miles west of Tyler, Texas, off SH 64. Turn right on Van Zandt County Road VZ 4923 and follow the signs for 2.4 miles. Turn right just before the Tyler Fish Farm. If you are driving from Canton, Texas, it is about 21 miles east of Canton and 3 miles north of Redland, Texas.

Although President Mirabeau B. Lamar was responsible for the massacre, in 1856, Cherokee Chief Major Ridge's daughter Sarah Ridge was married to her second husband Charles Pix in the home of then Texas Governor Mirabeau B. Lamar.

Notes for JOHN BOWLES, SR, CHIEF: from

Starr, A33, pg 472: John Bowles was the son of a Scotch trader and a full blood Cherokee woman. His father was killed and robbed by two North Carolinans while on his way home from Charlestown with goods for his establishment. This murder was in 1768 when the son was only twelve years of age, but within the next two years the fair complexioned, auburn haired boy had killed both his father's slayers.

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The Texas Cherokees, p10-11; "In January [1810] Duwali, also known as Bowl and Bold Hunter, chief of the Town of Little Hiwassee (on the Hiwassee river, now western NC) and another headman named Saulowee (Tsu-lawi or Fox) jointly conducted a group of seventy five from their villages... Duwali's and Takatoka's people settled along the White and St Francis rivers in present day northeast Arkansas.

The Texas Cherokees, p99; "Bob Smith, with a pistol in his hand, ran toward him from further down the line... I called 'Captain, don't shoot him' but he fired, striking Bowles in the head and killing him instantly."

(John Hunter Reagan, eyewitness to Duwali's death, 7/16/1839)

The Texas Cherokees, p127; "Born about 1756 of a Scotish father and full blood Cherokee mother...

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Myths of the Cherokee, p146; Christmas day 1839, in a fight on Cherokee Creek, San Saba Co, ...captured were the wife & family of The Bowl.

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When Diwali saw that his people were going to be overun, he rode to the rear of his small army of warriors and there he waited for the advancing Texans.The 83-year old chief rode with sword and hat given him by his friend Sam Houston. (The sword is now in the Masonic Lodge in Tahlequah Oklahoma.) The old Chief was shot and knocked off his horse, and he rolled over to a sitting position. While he sat on the ground singing his war song, a Captain Smith rode up, stepped off his horse, and shot the old warrior in the head with a pistol. The Texans would not allow his body to be removed. The bones of the old Chief remained exposed and on the ground until the late 1800's.

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On the "Houston" Treaty of Feb 23, 1836

Chief Bowles places his X mark with the name of Colonel Bowl

his son, John, places his X mark with the name of John Bowl


Aka (Facts Pg): Duwa'li, John Bowles, The Bowl, Bold Hunter, Chief Bowles/Boles/ Bowl, Colonel Bowles

Blood: 1/2 Cherokee, 1/2 Scotish

Cause of Death: shot in the head by Cap Bob Smith

Chief 1: Bet. 1810 - 1813, Principal Chief, CN-Arkansas

Chief 2: Bet. 1827 - 1832, Principal Chief, CN-Texas

Emigration 1: January 1810, from North Carolina to Arkansas

Emigration 2: 1824, from Arkansas into Texas, across the Red river

Signer 1: 1791, Treaty of Holston

Signer 2: February 23, 1836, Houston Treaty (never ratified)

Starr's Notes: B669


   * Ulutsa, married Chief John Bowles Sr.[Duwa'li, The Bowl, Bold Hunter, Colonel Bowles], son of a Scottish trader and a Cherokee woman, signed the treaty of Holston in 1791, died 16th July 1839 in Texas, and had issue.
         o Lightningbug Bowles
         o Dununesgi Bowles
         o Standing-Man Bowles
         o Quatini Bowles
         o Tsagina Bowles


The 83 year-old Cherokee Chief Bowles (Chief Duwali or Bold Hunter) and about 800 Indians (around 600 being women, children, and the elderly) from various tribes including many Cherokees were killed in the Battle of the Neches on July 15-16, 1839, less than one month after Major Ridge, Elias Boudinot, and John Ridge were murdered.

Unlike Texas' first President Sam Houston, Mirabeau B. Lamar, the second president of the Republic of Texas, wanted the Indians out of East Texas and the result was a massacre near the Neches River. The historical marker erected in 1936 is 13.5 miles west of Tyler, Texas, off SH 64. Turn right on Van Zandt County Road VZ 4923 and follow the signs for 2.4 miles. Turn right just before the Tyler Fish Farm. If you are driving from Canton, Texas, it is about 21 miles east of Canton and 3 miles north of Redland, Texas.

Although President Mirabeau B. Lamar was responsible for the massacre, in 1856, Cherokee Chief Major Ridge's daughter Sarah Ridge was married to her second husband Charles Pix in the home of then Texas Governor Mirabeau B. Lamar.

The links above and the historical marker mention that after this massacre, there was no more trouble with Cherokees in Texas. However, that is not true.

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John (Colonel) Duwa'li Bowles, Principal Chief's Timeline

Little Hiwasee, Cherokee Territory
Age 24
Age 26
Age 28
Age 28
Age 30
Age 32
Age 32
Age 34
Age 36