Atta kul kulla to perform near Ashland

Atta kul kulla (c. 1715–1780) was the peace chief of the powerful Cherokee Nation from 1758 until his death. Called the “most important Indian of his day,” Atta kul kulla was a skilled and sophisticated diplomat. His policies and actions are still controversial, but he did unite his people and lay the foundation for the long-term survival of the Cherokee Nation on a continent where European immigrants were rapidly growing in number.

Atta kul kulla, Cherokee peace chief, portrayed by Robert K. Rambo

Atta kul kulla, Cherokee peace chief, portrayed by Robert K. Rambo

Learn more about this influential Cherokee peace chief as Wolfpen Woods Pioneer Village and Kentucky Chautauqua present Atta kul kulla: Cherokee Peace Chief at 6 p.m. Friday, Sept. 11. Wolfpen Woods is located at 20740 Bolts Fork Road in Rush, Ky., near Ashland.

In 1775, Atta kul kulla played a key role in the famous land transaction known as the Transylvania Purchase. The Cherokees were defeated after a war with the Chickasaw. In return for much-needed arms and ammunition, he made the Treaty of Sycamore Shoals with the Transylvania Land Company, headed by Judge Richard Henderson of North Carolina, who used the agreement to claim purchase of what is now Kentucky. Unlike Henderson, Atta kul kulla did not regard the treaty as a sale. The governments of Great Britain, North Carolina and Virginia termed it illegal and annulled the treaty, but Virginia still used it to claim state ownership. Kentucky was lost to the Cherokee forever and sold to a flood of settlers from the east.

Atta kul kulla died around 1780, but the unity and sense of identity he had forged allowed the Cherokee to prosper until the 1830s, when the U.S. government forcibly removed them to the west from their homelands in the southeast. Atta kul kulla’s legacy is that Cherokees still seek and cherish the separate identity he did so much to establish.

Robert K. Rambo portrays Atta kul kulla for Kentucky Chautauqua. Rambo, who is of Cherokee ancestry, has been studying and portraying the great chief for more than a decade. A graduate of the Virginia Military Institute, Rambo is a graduate student in history at Western Carolina University.


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