In Georgia, A Reminder Of White Abuse Of Cherokee Indians


By Richard Mize
The Oklahoman

Using history to bring attention to land for sale has its upsides and downsides, as the auctioneer of some Georgia property with a deep Oklahoma connection might learn. of Green Bay, Wis., is auctioning the Calhoun Gold Mine outside Dahlonega, Ga., on Dec. 2. The 483-acre property has 135 acres under permanent conservation but with hunting, fishing and recreation allowed, three rent houses and other structures.

Micoley trumpets the origin of the property name: John C. Calhoun, U.S. senator from South Carolina and seventh vice president of the United States. Calhoun acquired land that included this acreage at the height of the Georgia gold rush in 1829.

The mine property, worked successfully as late as 1939-1940, is on the National Register of Historic Places, which Micoley boasts, and it is a National Historic Landmark, which the auction company also was happy to point out.

“The Calhoun Mine is a National Historic Landmark for a reason, and we want to honor the 7th Vice President’s legacy the best way we can,” founder and CEO Wade T. Micoley said in a news release. “It’s simply a beautiful piece of land and we cannot wait to match a buyer with the property who will continue to uphold its tradition with the same zeal the Calhoun family did in the 1800s.”

Alarm bells rang for me the second the news release hit my inbox with “1829,” “Georgia” and “gold rush” all in the same paragraph. That spells “Cherokee removal” and “Trail of Tears.”

So allow me to bring the fuller history to bear and point out the tragic connection to Oklahoma.

“The Calhoun Mine epitomizes the discovery of gold in Georgia, an event which was the proximate cause for the removal of the Cherokee Indians from Georgia and ultimately from the entire eastern homeland,” as the National Register nomination explains. “Historians have said that (quoting a local historian) ‘gold was by far the most important factor in the early pressure for hasty removal of the Cherokees.’ ”

Chances are you don’t know this pre-Oklahoma part of Cherokee history (or remember it from ninth grade, if you grew up in Oklahoma), so let’s give full historical context to this land auction next Saturday in Georgia:

“The discovery of gold … opened a flood of wild argonauts onto Cherokee land who, heedless of property rights and treaties drove the Indian from his land,” continues the National Register nomination, which was approved in 1973. “This boom resulted in the State of Georgia wresting both land and mineral rights from the Cherokee. As a result, the Cherokee moved their Capital from New Echota, Ga., to Red Clay, Tenn., and thus initiated the first phase of their final expulsion to land beyond the Mississippi.”

Not long after Calhoun acquired his gold-mining interests, missionaries in Georgia were arrested and jailed for supporting the Cherokee cause. Samuel A. Worcester and others tested an 1830 Georgia law forbidding whites from entering Cherokee territory without state permission. It led to one of a pair of U.S. Supreme Court cases that ripple through U.S.-Indian relations to this day: Worcester v. The State of Georgia, in 1832.

As I wrote in my biography of Worcester for the “Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History & Culture,” “Cherokee leaders saw that case, in which the Supreme Court declared that Georgia laws could have no effect in Cherokee Territory, as a hopeful answer to the 1831 case Cherokee Nation v. The State of Georgia, in which Chief Justice John Marshall infamously found the Cherokees to be a ‘domestic dependent nation’ with no rights a state was bound to follow.

“The Worcester case, flouted by Georgia authorities and by President Andrew Jackson, did nothing to stop the president and Congress from legislating forced removal of Cherokees and other Southeastern tribes. Despite being ignored in the 1830s, both cases influenced law and federal-Indian relations through the early twenty-first century.”

Indeed, the Calhoun Mine is a National Historic Landmark for a reason. It is listed for $5.1 million with a minimum opening bid of $2.95 million. Go to for more information or to bid.

Dear Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma: I would love for y’all to buy it.

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