Red Bird Smith

Redbird Smith

Redbird Smith, who was the moving spirit of the Nighthawk branch of the Keetoowah Society of Full-blood Cherokees, was born July 19th, 1850, somewhere near the city of Ft. Smith, Ark. His father and mother, together with other Cherokees being enroute to Indian Territory from Georgia.

Pig Redbird Smith, (the name Smith being added by the white people in Georgia because he was a blacksmith by trade), was an old and ardent ad­herent of the ancient rituals, customs and practices of the “Long House” group of eastern Indians of which the Cherokees were the head band or tribe.

The wife of Pig Redbird Smith and mother of Redbird Smith was Lizzie Hildebrand Smith, a woman who carried the best blood-lines of the Cherokees.

At an early date in the boyhood life of Redbird Smith, his father dedicated him to the services and cause of the Cherokee people in accordance with ancient customs and usages. At the early age of ten years, Redbird received instruction at the council fires. At this time, the latter part of 1859, Pig Redbird Smith, Budd Gritts and Vann, all being impressed with the virtues of the religious and moral codes of the ancient Keetoowah order, concluded to reorganize.

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Redbird Smith’s Home

Budd Gritts, who was a Baptist Minister, was prevailed upon to draft a Constitution and Laws of government for the use of the people in their group, which was compatible with the changing conditions religiously and Politically. The constitution and Laws of Government was formally adopted and the Keetoowah prospered and lived in peace under it for many years.

During the period from 1859 to 1889, the Keetoowah flourished and were strongly united. Almost without exception the Keetoowah went with the North in the Civil War. In all this period the Keetoowah were either Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians, a few Quakers, and a part of them wor­shipped according to the rituals of the ancient Keetoowah, but all got along harmoniously. Dissentions came only after the white Missionaries objected to and condemned what they termed “the Pagan Form of worship” of the ancient Keetoowah, and designated as “The work of the Devil.”

Influenced by these white teachers, who were conscientious and sincere in their efforts of Christian work, the members of the different denominations became strictly sectarian in their practice, but there was still no enmity existing.

The Keetoowah Constitution and Laws of Government was amended in 1889, making it rather a political organization in character. From this period the differences between the Christian Keetoowah and the Ancient Keetoowah became more marked, and there was lack of harmony even in their policies of political effort.

Starr, Emmett. History of the Cherokee Indians and Their Legends and Folk Lore. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma: The Warden Company. 1921

8 thoughts on “Redbird Smith”

  1. My name is Cheryl (Smith) Morton. Redbird Smith was my Great Great Grandfather. His daughter, Ella Nora Mclain was my Mom’s grandmother. My Grandfather is George Bullet Mclain.

    1. Cheryl or anyone reading this, I am trying to verify my Cherokee roots. I believe I am related to Chief Redbird. His father Pig Redbird Smith had a sister named Olive Mary “Polly” Smith. If I am correct, she is one of my grandmothers, as is her daughter, Mary Ann Smith(Norris). Can you verify that this is a true family line? Also if true do you have any dates or info on Pig Redbird Smith’s parents?

    2. Cheryl,
      I am looking for conformation that I am related to RedBird Smith’s family. As far as I can tell, one of my great grandmothers would be his aunt, Olive Mary “Polly” Smith. Can you tell me anything about his father Little Pig Redbird or grandfather DeNeSaulke Smith? Any info would be helpful. Thank you, Mary Sanders

  2. Retha "Guthrie" Mitchell

    George Redbird is George Mcdaniel. My Grandfather was Charley McDaniel. Also my family were the Motons my Great grandmother was Bertha Mae Moton Goodwin.

  3. Redbird was my great grandfather. What degree of Cherokee blood was he? His daughter Susie Smith was my grandmother.

    1. Redbird was fullblood. He is my Great Great Grandfather. His son George is my mother’s Grandfather. My name is Jerry Landrum my mother is Wanda Kight Landrum my Grandmother George’s daughter is Tissy Marie Smith Kight

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