B. Lynn Harris died on Friday in a home near Asheville, N.C., according to the Asheville Citizen-Times. Harris was of Cherokee descent, and apparently believed he was a fifth-generation Cherokee. He is survived by four siblings and a mother.
Harris was the great-great-great-great grandson of William H. Johnson, a long-dead Cherokee chief who led tribes in the Trans-Alaska Territory in the 1850s and relocated his warriors to its northernmost point to establish a camp along the N.C. Housatonic River. According to a 2014 story in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, “The Chiefs of the Lewis and Clark Trail were forced to march across a harsh and dangerous landscape for days and days upon end. En route they had harsh encounters with hostile humans and savage animals. They were robbed of their valuables and their forts burned.”
Harris had said at various times that he was a fifth-generation chief and actually lived to more than 180. In a biography produced in 2011, Harris said he had “his hands dipped in the blood of Hallelujah-King, the man whom the Cherokee call the Divine Ruler, and have been known to peaceably settle anywhere that we are offered land that is good enough.”
Johnson, who had a long history of press coverage, including a pretty critical exploration in The Atlantic by GQ’s James Wood in 2013, was preceded in death by an exiled Jamestown runaway in 1826 who was known as “King Billy” and who later claimed to be “Pookie,” according to NorthwestHistory.org. Jamestown even has an obituary for Johnson, dated February 17, 1854, published in the Atlantic and which notes that “When Dutch Americans made an impudent joke in the antebellum antebellum south that they had killed a half- Cherokee chief, they received an unusual amount of infamy, as leading Cherokee leaders decided that a delicious revenge for such a remark was to slice the head off a half-Indian person who had mocked them.”
Read the full story at the Asheville Citizen-Times.
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