Published on December 30, 2010 by John
Oconostota (ca. 1710-1783) was the Warrior (skiagusta) of Chota and the First Beloved Man of the Cherokee from 1775 to 1781.
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Oconostota may have been a son of Moytoy of Tellico, and was born around 1704, one of eleven children. The identity of Oconostota’s first wife is a mystery, although she was of the Paint Clan. Their daughter, Nionne Ollie, was the wife of his predecessor, Attakullakulla.
After the death of his first wife, Oconostota invited Lucy Ward, a former lady-in-waiting to the Queen of England whom he had met in 1730, to join him in Chota. They were married and had one daughter, Lucy Ward II. The identity of Oconostota’s third wife (after Lucy’s death in 1758) is unknown.
Oconostota became the Principal Chief of the Cherokee following the death of his cousin Attakullakulla, sometime around 1775-1777. (He was sometimes called “Stalking Turkey”, a fact which caused confusion in identifying Oconostota versus his uncle Kanagatucko, “Standing Turkey”.) His tenure was fraught with warfare and struggle, which culminated in 1780 in the destruction of Chota-Tanasi by the American revolutionary forces. Oconostota was believed to have died in either 1782 or 1783. He was buried with his hands on his chest holding a broadsword pointing down his body.