Indigenous gather to protest birthday party for genocidal U.S. President Andrew Jackson

NASHVILLE—Indigenous people and their supporters gathered here on March 15 to protest a celebration for the 256th birthday of the deservedly-maligned seventh president of the United States, Andrew Jackson.

The infamous leader’s birthday party was held at the Hermitage, Jackson’s historic home in Nashville. The event included children’s activities, gallery talks, an annual presidential wreath-laying ceremony at Jackson’s tomb, and a keynote address from Nashville Mayor John Cooper.

It must be noted that March is the Memorial Month of the Creek War. The protest started at 11:00 am to coincide with the wreath-laying and the keynote address given by Cooper. The main speaker for the protest was Melba Checote-Eads, a citizen of the Muscogee Creek Nation of Oklahoma who has long resided in Tennessee.

Checote-Eads spoke of the Creek War of 1813-14 in which thousands of the Indigenous were killed by Jackson’s armies. The 210th anniversary of the last battle of the war, the Battle of Horseshoe Bend (Tohopeka in the Muscogee Creek language), is on March 27. At that battle between U.S. militia forces, mostly from Tennessee, and the Muscogee Creeks, hundreds of Indigenous people were killed and hundreds of women and children were taken prisoner.

Throughout the Creek War, Jackson led a war of extermination against non-combatants—women and children—that included the battles of Emuckfaw, Enotochopcq, Tallushatchee, Talladega, and Autosse, culminating with the slaughter at Tohopeka.

After the last battle at Horseshoe Bend/Tohopeka, Jackson’s soldiers made bridle reins and razor strops from Indigenous corpses, and further mutilations included cutting off the noses of the dead. Much of the clothing of the slaughtered was sent as souvenirs to the “ladies of Tennessee.”

At least three Creek children who survived the battle were taken as “trophies” by Jackson himself. Creek children, particularly little boys, were sold for $20 each as “pets.” There is a story current to this very day among Muscogee Creeks that the origin of Jackson appearing on the $20 bill stems from Creek children taken captive being sold as slaves for that price.

Checote-Eads also spoke of the post-war Treaty of Fort Jackson that the Creeks were forced to sign. It ceded over 23 million acres of tribal land to the United States.

Article Nine of the Treaty of Ghent between the U.S. and England ending the War of 1812 (of which the Creek War was considered a part) proclaimed that Indigenous nations who fought against the United States in the war would not lose any land to the U.S.

What this means is that the Treaty of Fort Jackson was illegal and the Muscogee Creek Nation is still the legal owner of the 23 million acres stolen in southern Georgia and central Alabama.

The so-called celebration of Jackson’s birthday was regarded by the protesters as a gross racist insult, as Jackson was a hideous purveyor of genocide against Native people—Cherokees, Creeks, Choctaws, Chickasaws, and Seminoles—in the 19th century.

His legacy remains to this very day, and many descendants of his victims regard Jackson as an early-day American Hitler. In fact, the German leader is said to have studied the career of Jackson in fashioning the genocidal policies of his Holocaust.

In 2017, then-President Donald Trump showed up in Nashville to celebrate Jackson, calling him his “hero.”

Jackson was responsible for the agonizing deaths of thousands of Native men, women, children, and elderly beginning with the Creek War. The celebration of the birthday of this mass murderer is a racist, reprehensible insult to all Indigenous people of this country in the 21st century. He was also a notorious slaveholder of captive African Americans.

There was an alternative wreath-laying ceremony by Checote-Eads, commemorating not Jackson but rather the Creek people massacred in the war. The signs of the protesters at the event included: “Andrew Jackson Guilty of Genocide,” “Andrew Jackson Indian Killer,” “Andrew Jackson, an American Hitler,” and “Andrew Jackson, Indian Hater.”

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Albert Bender
Albert Bender

Albert Bender is a Cherokee activist, historian, political columnist, and freelance reporter for Native and Non-Native publications. He is currently writing a legal treatise on Native American sovereignty and working on a book on the war crimes committed by the U.S. against the Maya people in the Guatemalan civil war He is a consulting attorney on Indigenous sovereignty, land restoration, and Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) issues and a former staff attorney with Legal Services of Eastern Oklahoma (LSEO) in Muskogee, Okla.