About Joel Bryan (Tsa-wa Gak-ski) ᏣᏩᎦKᏍᎩ Mayes, Major, CSA, Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation
Joel Bryan Mayes (Tsa-wa Gak-ski, Ꮳ Ꮹ ᎦK ᏍᎩ, in Cherokee) (1833 – 1891) was Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation.
Early life and educationHe was born in present-day Bartow County, Georgia on October 2, 1833, of mixed Cherokee and white ancestry. He attended college at the Cherokee Male Seminary and was editor of a small weekly newspaper, there, called the Sequoyah Memorial, whose motto was "Truth, Justice, Freedom of Speech and Cherokee Improvement. He graduated in 1856.
In 1857 he married Martha Candy, who died three years later. She had been an 1856 graduate of the Cherokee Female Seminary.
Military service Mayes' first two wives were members of the Cherokee Female Seminary Class of 1856.He served as a major in the Confederate Army, where he held the positions of quartermaster and paymaster, till the end of the war. During this time, he married Martha McNair in 1863. She died three years later, just as the first Mrs. Mayes had.
Postwar LifeAfter the war ended, Joel B. Mayes, became a successful farmer along the Grand River.
In 1873 he married Mary Delilah Vann, who outlived him.
In 1868 he became a court clerk, and upon completing one term he was elected judge of the Northern Circuit of the Cherokee Nation. He served in this office for five years before being appointed secretary of the Commission on Citizenship. While still secretary of the Commission on Citizenship, he became clerk of the National Council. He was then named an associate justice of the Cherokee Supreme Court, which he served for one year before being elected Chief Justice by the National Council.
He was named Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation after a disputed election in 1887. It was during his administration that the Cherokee Outlet sale was negotiated. He was re-elected to a second term, but died shortly thereafter, on December 14, 1891