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Chickasaw Treaty Of 1783 Site

Chickasaw Treaty Historical Marker

Chickasaw Treaty Historical Marker

The Chickasaw Treaty historical marker at the intersection of Morrow Road and Terry Drive in Nashville, Tennessee, commemorates a treaty between the Chickasaw Nation and the state of Virginia, signed near this location in 1783. The Chickasaw Nation played a key role in the early history of Nashville and the United States.

The Chickasaws lived primarily in Northern Mississippi. Western Tennessee and part of Middle Tennessee were important hunting areas for the tribe. Chickasaw territory occupied a strategic position on the Mississippi River and later became the southwestern border of the young United States. This, as well as the tribe's noted military power, made the Chickasaws an important participant in the power struggles between Great Britain, France, Spain, and the United States for control of the North American continent.

The early relationship between the Chickasaws and the colonial powers was based on the fur trade, with the Chickasaws exchanging  furs for European trade items such as guns, knives, kettles, and cloth. The British did a better job at developing this trade relationship and the majority of the Chickasaws supported the British. The French tried to undermine the Chickasaw alliance with the British by inciting the neighboring Choctaw to carry out raids on the Chickasaws and traders doing business with them. During the mid-1700's France conducted a series of wars on the Chicksaws but came out on the losing end. Failure to defeat the Chickasaws was a primary reason France conceded control of  the lower Mississippi Valley to England in 1763.

During the Revolutionary War the Chickasaw Nation controlled the Mississippi River and land routes to the western frontier of the United States. The Chickasaw favored neutrality, despite their long relationship with the British, but their hand was forced by aggressive action by the Americans. In 1779 the state of Virginia sent a belligerent message to the Chickasaw, warning them to stay neutral or be invaded. The Chickasaw replied that invaders would return home minus their heads. In 1780, Virginia Governor Thomas Jefferson ordered construction of a fort on Chickasaw territory on the Mississippi River (near present day Wickliffe, Kentucky) in an attempt to neutralize perceived threats posed by the British and/or Chickasaws. The Chickasaw immediately attacked and then laid seige to the fort, called Fort Jefferson, resulting in the retreat of the Americans a year later. 1780 was also the year that the Jame Robertson/John Donelson party founded Nashville, and the Chickasaws conducted some of the early Indian raids on Nashville and the other Cumberland area stations.

The Chickasaw-British relationship deteriorated during the war, however, and in 1782 the Chickasaw sent a message to Virginia saying they wanted peace with the Americans. Benjamin Harrison, who succeeded Thomas Jefferson as governor, appointed Joseph Martin, Virginia's Indian Agent to the Cherokee, and John Donelson as the treaty commissioners. Donelson, one of the co-founders of Nashville mentioned above, had moved to Kentucky because of Native attacks on the Cumberland settlements. Harrison directed Donelson to make arrangements for a treaty council at Nashville, which was called French Lick at the time. When the United States defeated Great Britain, Piominko, the most influential Chickasaw leader, allied the tribe with the Americans.

The 1783 treaty signed in Nashville

The alliance between the United States and the Chickasaws was absolutely crucial to the survival of the settlements centered around Fort Nashborough. During the 1780's the Nashville settlements were under constant attack by the Chickamaugans (an alliance of Cherokee, Creek, Shawnee, and other Indians) and the Creeks. Spain supported these attacks with supplies and other encouragement. The Nashville settlements came very close to being wiped out. If the powerful Chickasaws had continued attacks on these settlements as well, the settlers would have had to abandon the area.  If this had happened the security of the United States would have been threatened because of Spanish designs on this part of the frontier.

The importance of the relationship between the Chickasaws and the Nashville settlements is illustrated by a resolution passed by the governing committee of the settlements in 1783 that required all traders not to infringe on the rights of the Indians. In 1795, when the Chickasaws were attacked by the Creeks, who were allies of the Spanish, the Nashville settlements sent a volunteer force to help defend the Chickasaws. The Chickasaws successfully repulsed the attack and inflicted heavy losses on the Creeks. The Chickasaws later requested that the United States pay the expenses of the volunteer force. Andrew Jackson submitted the request to Congress on behalf of the tribe, and the volunteers were paid.

In 1795, Spain ceded control of the lower Mississippi Valley to the United States, and in 1796 Tennessee became the 16th state.

In May 1830 Andrew Jackson's Indian Removal Act was passed. Later that year, in Franklin, Tennessee, Chickasaw representatives signed a treaty providing for their removal to lands west of the Mississippi River.


From Interstate 40 West take Exit 204B - White Bridge Rd/Robertson Av., get in the right lane and turn right on White Bridge Road, then take an immediate right on Urbandale Avenue. Go .26 miles and turn left on Morrow Road. Go .85 miles and the marker will be on your left on front of the West Park Community Center. Turn left on Terry Road and there will be a parking area on your left.

From Interstate 40 East take Exit 204 - Briley Pkwy/White Bridge Rd/Robertson Av., turn left on Briley Pkwy/White Bridge Road, get in the right lane. Go .17 miles and turn right on Urbandale Avenue. Go .26 miles and turn left on Morrow Road. Go .85 miles and the marker will be on your left on front of the West Park Community Center. Turn left on Terry Road and there will be a parking area on your left.

The West Park Community Center address is 6105 Morrow Road, Nashville, TN, 37209 if you want to get internet driving directions.

Chickasaw Treaty Historical Marker

West Park is a Metro Nashville park located in a quiet residential area. Restrooms are available when the Community Center is open. The Community Center hours are M-Th: 12:00 - 8:30pm, Fri. 11:00am - 7:30pm, Sat. and Sun. - Closed. In summer the hours are M-F 9am -7pm. For more information about the West Park Community Center call Jeremy Wilson at 862-8469.

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