Cherokee Trip to London

Something a little different today, and a spectacular prize book that matches. See below.

Cherokee Nation Emmisaries to London 1762

The “Emissaries of Peace,” led by Ostenaco and Cherokee leaders Cunne Shote and Woyi, traveled to London and met with King George III in May 1762. They were accompanied by Junior Officer Ensign Henry Timberlake. The engraving is titled: “The Three Cherokees, came over the head of the River Savanna to London, 1762. / Their interpreter was poisoned.” (Photo courtesy of the Gilcrease Museum, Tulsa, Okla.)

These  imposing gentlemen–with their fierce-looking tattoos and exotic costumes composed of a mixture of native American materials like deer skin pants and the latest borrowings from European civilization, like pajama tops– were an anti-war movement. Yes, although the mere sight of them might drive proper London ladies to pull out the smelling salts, they were emissaries of the Cherokee Nation of North America on a mission to seek peace with Great Britain.

The year was 1762  and the Cherokee Nation, still one of the two largest American Indian nations in the United States, will commemorate that historic journey with a group tour this coming summer, June 15-23. Do you like historic travel? Here’s something new for you. (tattoos optional)

The Cherokee Nation Tourism press release says: Long before the Revolutionary War, the Cherokee Nation was a valued trading partner and important political ally with Great Britain. That mutual bond was dissolved during the French and Indian War and led to a three-year conflict between the British and the Cherokees. In November 1761 the Treaty of Long Island resulted in peace between the two nations. That December, Junior Officer Ensign Henry Timberlake arrived in the Cherokee capital, present-day Monroe County, Tennessee, and spent several months with the Cherokee people. 

In May 1762, the “Emissaries of Peace” led by Ostenaco and including Cherokee leaders Cunne Shote and Woyi, persuaded Timberlake to escort them to London, where they met with King George III. At the meeting, Ostenaco declared his wish for peace and loyalty to the King.

Starting in Oklahoma, the home base of the largest sector of the Cherokee Nation (the Eastern Cherokees live in the southeast, which was their original homeland), will travel to London and stop off at Plymouth, Exeter Cathedral,Egremont House in Piccadilly Circus, Suffolk Street, the British Museum, Buckingham Palace, St. James Palace, Green Park, St. Paul’s Cathedral, the Tower of London, Westminster Abbey, and Houses of Parliament among other sites. Since the British 18th century version of paparazzi followed the Cherokee closely, every move is documented, and today’s historic travelers can follow closely in their footsteps.

There will be room for 40 people on the tour, and in the spirit of peace, non-Cherokees can sign up for this historic re-enactment as well as Cherokees.

An article on the National Endowment for the Humanities  site tells the story of the mission to see King George III, based on an exhibit at the Museum of the Cherokee in North Carolina. Although the article was written some time ago, the exhibit is still there.

“We’re trying to look at both cultures from the perspective of people who were experiencing them for the first time,” says Duane King, director of the Southwest Museum of the Cherokee Indian. (Note: the NEH site gives King’s background incorrectly. Among other things, he was director of the Southwest Museum in LA and of the Museum of the Cherokee Indian in NC, and is now head of Gilcrease Museum in Tulsa, OK) A Timberlake scholar, King is helping to develop the exhibition.

“The Cherokees did not speak English, and Timberlake spoke only minimal Cherokee,” King says. “According to the British press, they made their wishes known by hand signals.” 

(Revised)Book this tour by February 1 (FINAL Payment March 1). For additional information or booking for the “Emissaries of Peace” historic tour, please contact Heather Williams at (918) 384-7887 or

This tour came to my attention because I was the guest in late 2010 of the Cherokee Nation for a tour of Cherokee sites in Oklahoma.  The Cherokee have an active tourism program and I found their Oklahoma sites absolutely fascinating. What a great opportunity this is to re-enact a little-known incident in American history.

For additional information on the Cherokee Nation Cultural Tourism program, call (877) 779-6977or visit
(The photo used above was supplied by the Cherokee Nation Cultural Tourism office.)

So tell me, do you like historical travel? Do you like following in historic footsteps?

Cherokee Principal Chief Smith

Cherokee Principal Chief Chadwick Corntassel Smith

Today to go along with the historic Cherokee trip, I am going to part with an absolutely gorgeous book called Building One Fire: Art + World View in Cherokee Life. The book is even signed by one of its authors, Chadwick Corntassel Smith, who was principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation when I met him in 2010. Remember, there are four ways to win. Check the complete rules here–contest rules. (You must enter by 3:00 a.m., Thursday January 19 the be eligible for this prize, and all entries will be in the running for the two grand prizes.)

Disclaimers: The book was a gift from the Cherokee Tourism Office and the photo to the right is my property. I do not receive any compensation for telling you about the historic tour. I just thought you might be interested.


A freelance writer who loves to travel. When she is not traveling she is reading about travel. When she is not reading or traveling, she is sharing with the readers of A Traveler’s Library, recreating her family’s past at Ancestors In Aprons. She writes frequently for Reel Life With Jane and other websites. Also co-author of a biography, Quincy Tahoma, The Life and Legacy of a Navajo Artist. Contact Vera Marie by e-mail.

Vera Marie Badertscher – who has written posts on A Traveler's Library.

About Vera Marie Badertscher

A freelance writer who loves to travel. When she is not traveling she is reading about travel. When she is not reading or traveling, she is sharing with the readers of A Traveler's Library, recreating her family's past at Ancestors In Aprons. She writes frequently for Reel Life With Jane and other websites. Also co-author of a biography, Quincy Tahoma, The Life and Legacy of a Navajo Artist. Contact Vera Marie by e-mail.

5 thoughts on “Cherokee Trip to London

  1. I have been surprised by the number of people I have met in my life who had an ancestor from the Cherokee tribe. One woman in France, American friend of mine, even told me about her senior thesis on the Trail of Tears, and interviewing people about it. Would love to win this book. I have always been fascinated by the Native Americans. In France, I saw a documentary about 40 years ago that really opened my eyes.

  2. Lacking grandparents as a small child, I simply chose my own. My “grandpa” — John Wesley Oliver — was the son of a Cherokee mother and grew up in the Arkansas Ozarks in the late 19th century. He taught in a 1-room school in the Oklahoma Territory at age 14, then became an engineer and worked on the Panama Canal. He lived into his 90s, but like most youngsters, I failed to note the details of his many stories. So while I am as non-Cherokee as can be (my grandparents — who were roughly the same age, born in the 1870s — were just arriving on American shores as he began teaching), I have always always felt an affinity for Native Americans in general and Cherokees in particular.

    I’ve visited some of the Cherokee sites in Oklahoma. The Tour sounds fascinating. Wish I could go.

  3. Wow this sounds like such an interesting tour- I’ll let my brother in law know about it. He might well be interested- being from Oklahoma and being Native American, himself. He isn’t Cherokee- but from the Choctaw tribe.

  4. How forward-thinking of them to seek peace with the British. Reminds me of the Maroons, here in Jamaica, who signed their treaty in 1738.
    Thanks for sharing this info, Vera. The tour sounds fabulous. And wonderful that non-Cherokee can go too.

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