In the 18th Century, economic problems in their homeland caused more than 250,000 Scotch-Irish to cross the Atlantic. They went first to Philadelphia for flaxseed trade which tied them to Ulster’s linen industry back home. They soon began to push south into the Appalachian region.
When Ulster Scots settled in what is now Georgia and North Carolina, they did not find the land uninhabited. These mountains had long ago been settled by Cherokee Indians. The first of these Scots settlers was Sir Alexander Cuming who met with the Cherokee at Nikiwasi (Franklin) in 1730. The Scots had a good rapport with Native Americans. They adapted with the Cherokee way of life and married Cherokee women.
These Echota, also known as Chatuga Indians, are a section of the “Over The Hill Cherokees” who lived on the Holstein Plain (now Tennessee, north Georgia, North Carolina, and north Alabama). They were given their own tartan by the Scots called a “Ross Tartan.”
The Cherokee lived in small cabins. They farmed the land, trapped, and hunted often using a bamboo blow gun adorned with rawhide ties and souvenir “tails.” The women wove baskets with their fingers (finger weaving). Stick ball was a common game among the Cherokee. Those “sticks” resemble a small version of our La Crosse. The Cherokee men wore a turban, often with an added feather. This was a more sensible headdress than the Western headband full of feathers while running through the rhododendrons!
Colonel Archibald Montgomery, a Scot, brought 1,200 Scottish soldiers into the Macon County, North Carolina area in 1760. Relationships had begun to deteriorate between the Indians and the European settlers. John Ross, of mixed Scottish and Cherokee heritage, was Chief of the Cherokee when the Treaty of New Echota was negotiated in 1835, resulting in the removal of most of the tribe to Indian Territory, now the State of Oklahoma, which became known as “The Trail of Tears.”