Photographs (left to right): December 25, 2009 Sunrise, Rush, New York; Pitcher Plant, Cranberry Glades, West Virginia; Cedar Key, Florida

Wampum Belt Archive

Cherokee Wampum Belt

Cherokee White Belt with the notation it was given to Return J. Meigs by the Cherokee Indians in 1805 as a memento of the treaty made by the US with Black Fox and Path Killer.  



Reconstruction of Beaver Belt R D Hamell 01/22/18




Original Size:
Estimate length: 440 column by 15 wide

total: 6,600 beads.



Return Jonathan Meigs [born December 17 (old style) or 28th (new style), 1740; died January 28, 1823], a colonel in the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War, was one of the settlers of the Northwest Territory in what is now the state of Ohio. He later served the federal government as an Indian agent working with the Cherokee in Tennessee.

The label on the case states it was presented to Col. Return Jonathon Meigs, the father of the governor, by an Indian acquaintance (Cherokee?). Item number is A2091/1 (Fort Ancient: Jack Blosser, 2018)


After the Revolution, Meigs was appointed surveyor of the Ohio Company of Associates. In April, 1788, he was one of a party of pioneers to the Northwest Territory from New England who arrived at the confluence of the Muskingum and Ohio Rivers and participated in the founding of Marietta, Ohio. Meigs drafted the code of regulations that was used until the formal creation of the Northwest Territory the following year.[2][8][9] Subsequently, he became a territorial judge, a justice of the peace, and clerk of the Court of Quarter Sessions. In 1795, he served the army under General Anthony Wayne, as a commissary of clothing in the western country. In 1799, Meigs became a member of the Ohio territorial legislature, serving until 1801.[2]


In 1801, Meigs went to Tennessee to fill the combined position of agent to the Cherokee Nation and military agent for the United States War Department. Initially his office and the Cherokee Agency were at Fort Southwest Point in what is now Kingston, Tennessee,[2] but in 1807 he relocated these operations to a new post further east, named Hiwassee Garrison. It was near the mouth of the Hiwassee River where it joins the Tennessee RiverCharles R. Hicks, a mixed-race and bilingualCherokee, worked as his interpreter for some time. Hicks later became a chief of the Cherokee.

Meigs' role as military agent ended in 1813 when the Federal soldiers stationed at Hiwassee Garrison were withdrawn, but he remained as Cherokee agent on the Hiwassee River until his death on January 28, 1823. The government's trading or factory operations were linked with Indian relations in the War Department during these years. As Cherokee agent, Meigs promoted the well-being of the Cherokee, defended their rights in treaty negotiations, and encouraged Cherokee efforts to establish a republican form of government.[7] His death was attributed to pneumonia contracted from sleeping outdoors in a tent while accommodating a visiting Indian chief in his own living quarters.[2]

Further search found the reference to this belt on rootsweb
Below is an excerpt describing the gifting of the belt.
Black Fox signed the Holston Treaty, July 2, 1791 (but not the stipulation of February 7, 1792) and delivered the funeral oration for his brother-in-law Dragging Canoe. He was originally chief of the lower town of Ustanali and became principal chief of the Cherokee after the death of Little Turkey in 1802. He signed the October 20, 1803 agreement for opening a road through the Cherokee Nation as "Principal Chief," as well as the Oct. 27, 1805, Jan. 7, 1806, and Sept. 11, 1807 treaties. On March 3, 1807, the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives enacted a statute at large giving "the Cherokee chief, called Black Fox" a life annuity of $100. He sided with Chief Doublehead during the rebellion of 1806-1810 and was deposed for it, with Pathkiller taking his place. On April 18, 1810, he and others signed an act of the Cherokee Nation abolishing clan revenge. After this he was reinstated as principal chief. He last received his $100 stipend by proxy on July 11, 1810; the agent Return J. Meigs referred to him as "Black Fox Cherokee King." The chief had his nation cede 7,000 square miles of land to the government, giving a ceremonial wampum belt to Col. Meigs as a token of his faith in transferring Muscle Shoals, with its iron ore deposits.Younger chiefs forged his name to certain treaties and acts. He died in 1811 and was buried in an ancient tomb on the boundary between Cherokee and Creek lands in Blount Co., Ala. His name was carried on by the Black Fox who signed the treaty of 1828 and emigrated west. Some descendants remained in the East around his former chief’s residence at Creek Path on Sand Mountain. A sister married John Looney of the family that established the Looney Tavern, near where Black Fox was eventually entombed. There are rumors that a Black Fox changed his name to Henry White and moved from Alabama to Ohio. Black Fox's hunting camp was on the Stones River near Murphreesboro, Tenn. and is mentioned on a map of 1783.




Blosser, Jack. 2018. Site Manager Fort Ancient. Personal Communication. 2018.

Wikipedia. 2018. Return J. Meigs Sr.