Major Ridge, "The Ridge"

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Major Ridge (Kah-nung-da-tla-geh), "The Ridge"

Also Known As: "Pathkiller ll", "given name: Ca-Nun-Tah-Cla-Kee (The Man Who Walks on the Mountain Top)", "Until the end of the Chickamauga wars", "he was known as Nung-Noh-Tah-Hee", "meaning "He Who Slays The Enemy In His Path""
Birthdate: (68)
Birthplace: Hiawasee, Tennessee
Death: June 22, 1839 (64-72)
near, Cincinnati, Arkansas, United States (brutally murdered, waylaid in the road and shot, for signing the treaty effecting the removal of the Cherokees from Northwest Georgia - Myers p. 1657)
Place of Burial: Delaware County, OK
Immediate Family:

Son of Tah Chee "Dutch","the Long Warrior", of Tellico and Ailsey Paint Clan, married into Cherokee Bird Clan
Husband of Susannah Catherine Ridge
Father of John Ridge; Walter Ridge; Sarah "Sallie" Pix and Nancy Ridge
Brother of Gi-Yo-Sti-Ko-Yo-He of the Bird Clan; David Watie Oo-Watie; Chief G Watts, Kahayanteehee; Oo-loo-tsa (Lucy) Bowles; Nettle Carrier and 1 other

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About Major Ridge, "The Ridge"

Kah-nung-da-tla-geh, "the man who walks the mountain top", was known as "The Ridge" and later Major Ridge, for his participation in the Creek War 1813-1814. He was the leader of the Ridge or Treaty Party. His brother, Oo-wa-tie, "the ancient one", was the father of Stand Watie. He served as head of the Lighthorse Guard (i.e., Cherokee police), member of the National Committee, and speaker of the National Council. The valuation of his property at the time of the removal west showed him to be the third richest man in the Cherokee Nation. He was assassinated in 1839 for signing the Treaty of New Echota for removal of the Cherokees to the West. (


An Indian boy was born between 1765 and 1771 in the Cherokee village of Hiwassee, Tennessee. His parents died when he was young. He had a younger brother named David Oo-Watie, which means "The Ancient One." Their father's name was Oganotota. Ridge had three older brothers who all died young. Ridge was the first to reach maturity. He had another younger brother who died young and a sister who married and lived close by. No one knows the names of the other brothers or sister but one of the brothers may have been Soodohlee (Sudale).

The young Indian was named Ca-Nun-Tah-Cla-Kee (other spellings include Ca-Nun-Ta-Cla-Gee and Ka-Nun-Tah-Kla-Gee), meaning "The Lion Who Walks On The Mountain Top." The white man shortened his name to Ridge. Andrew Jackson gave him the name Major because he led a force of Cherokees in the Battle of the Horseshoe against the Creeks. Other Indians called him Nung-Noh-Tah-Hee, meaning "He Who Slays The Enemy In His Path." Major Ridge was a friend of Congressman Sam Houston of Tennessee. Major Ridge's portrait is in the archives at the Smithsonian (Museum of American History-Major Ridge geo. region 3008 4050 302 ID 3008 210 7159) along with John Ridge's.

Major Ridge married Ah-Tah-Kon-Stis-Kee "Wickett" and Kate Parris' daughter Sehoya circa 1800. Her christened name was Susannah "Susie" Catherine Wickett (circa 1775 (82) - 8/1849). Ah-Tah-Kon-Stis-Kee was Major Ridge's foster father and father-in-law. They married circa 1800. Major Ridge and Susie's children were:

  • Nancy Ridge - born circa 1801 Calhoun, GA - died circa 9/1818 - married William Ritchey or William Ritchie circa 1817. One daughter born circa 9/1818 - died circa 5/1819 Cherokee Nation East, now GA
  • John Ridge (Skah-tle-loh-skee) - born 1802 Rome, GA - died 6/22/1839 - married Sarah Bird Northrup married 1/27/1824 at Cornwall, CT.
  • Unknown baby boy - died at birth
  • Walter S. Ridge "Watty" - born 1806 - died 1851 - married Elizabeth. Watty was "slow and weak in the mind."
  • Sarah Ridge - born circa April 1814, near present Rome, Georgia. Sarah's Indian name was "Sollee," pronounced "Sallie." - deed 1891
  • Jane Ridge - born circa 1816 - died circa 1817


Major Ridge , also Pathkiller II (c.1771 – June 22, 1839) was a Cherokee Indian leader and protégé, along with Charles R. Hicks, of the noted figure James Vann.


Ridge was born into the Deer clan in the Cherokee town of Hiwassee along the Hiwassee River, an area later part of Tennessee. His father was named Tatsi (sometimes written Dutsi) and may have at one time been called Aganstata, but this was a common name among the Cherokee as was the practice of changing one's name, which Tatsi's son did. Ridge's maternal grandfather was a Highland Scot; thus Ridge was 3/4 Cherokee by ancestry, and one of the many Cherokees of his time with partial European (especially Scottish) heritage. He was named Ca-Nun-Tah-Cla-Kee (other spellings include Ca-Nun-Ta-Cla-Gee and Ka-Nun-Tah-Kla-Gee), meaning "The Man Who Walks On The Mountain Top."

Until the end of the Chickamauga wars, he was known as Nung-Noh-Tah-Hee, meaning "He Who Slays The Enemy In His Path" or Pathkiller (not the same as the chief). After the war, he changed his name to what the English version simplifies as "The Ridge" (as did Bloody Fellow to Clear Sky). He acquired the title "Major" in 1814, during his service leading Cherokees alongside General Andrew Jackson at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend during the Creek War. He also joined Jackson in the First Seminole War in 1818, leading Cherokees against the Seminole Indians. After the war, Ridge became a wealthy planter and slave owner of African Americans. Major Ridge married Sehoyah (Susannah Catherine Wickett), daughter of Ar-tah-ku-ni-sti-sky ("Wickett") and Kate Parris, about 1800.

Cherokee removal

Ridge long opposed U.S. government proposals for the Cherokees to sell their lands and remove to the West. However, the rapidly expanding white settlement and Georgia's efforts to abolish the Cherokee government caused him to change his mind. Advised by his son John Ridge, Major Ridge came to believe the best way to preserve the Cherokee Nation was to get good terms for their lands from the U.S. government before it was too late. On December 22, 1835, Ridge was one of the signers of the Treaty of New Echota, which exchanged the Cherokee tribal land east of the Mississippi River for land in what is now Oklahoma. The treaty was of questionable legality, and it was rejected by Chief John Ross and the majority of the Cherokee people. Nevertheless, the treaty was ratified by the U.S. Senate.

Ridge, his family, and many other Cherokees emigrated to the West soon after the treaty. The terms of the treaty were strictly enforced, and those Cherokees (and their African American slaves) who remained on tribal lands in the East were forcibly rounded up by the U.S. government in 1838, and began a journey popularly known as the "Trail of Tears".


In the West, the Ross faction blamed Ridge and the other signers of the Treaty of New Echota for the hardships of removal. In June 1839, Major Ridge, his son John, and nephew Elias Boudinot, were assassinated by Cherokees of the Ross faction to remove them as political rivals and to intimidate the political establishment of the Old Settlers, which the Ridge faction had joined. Ridge's nephew Stand Watie, the future Confederate general in the Civil War, was also targeted for assassination, but escaped, and during the war also served as Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation after Ross and the Union-supporters withdrew.

Ridge and his son are buried along with Stand Watie in Polson Cemetery in Delaware County, OK.

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Major Ridge, "The Ridge"'s Timeline

Hiawasee, Tennessee
Age 31
Rome, Georgia, United States
Age 35
Age 43
Rome, Floyd County, Georgia, United States
June 22, 1839
Age 68
Cincinnati, Arkansas, United States
Delaware County, OK