|Intro||First Beloved Man of the Overhill Cherokee|
|From||United States of America|
Old Tassel Reyetaeh (sometimes Corntassel) (Cherokee language: Utsi'dsata), (died 1788), was "First Beloved Man" (the equivalent of a regional Cherokee chief) of the Overhill Cherokee after 1783, when the United States gained independence from Great Britain. He worked to try to keep the Cherokee people of the Overhill region out of the Cherokee–American wars being fought between the European-American frontiersmen and the Chickamauga band warriors led by Dragging Canoe. He was murdered in 1788 with another chief at Chilhowee by white settlers under a flag of truce.
Old Tassel's brothers were the warriors Pumpkin Boy and Doublehead. His maternal nephew was John Watts, known as "Young Tassel." The Corntassel family has descendants in the 21st- century Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, as do the Doublehead and Watts families.
Old Tassel became "First Beloved Man" of the Overhill Cherokee in 1783, after the tribal elders removed his predecessor, The Raven of Chota (also known as Savanukah). An advocate of peace, Old Tassel strove—with only some success—to keep the people of the Overhill towns out of the Cherokee–American wars being fought between the white settlers and the Chickamauga band, in what are now the eastern Tennessee and southeastern Kentucky regions. He was known as the Great Orator.
Reyetaeh signed the 1777 Treaty of Long Island, and 1785 Treaty of Hopewell with United States representatives, which ostensibly protected the Overhill territory as Cherokee. The Americans had given Old Tassel an American flag sewed by Betsy Ross; he flew it over his door.
In 1786 Old Tassel and Hanging Maw were forced to sign the Treaty of Coytoy, which threatened punishment if any murdered of whites was sheltered by the Cherokee. Representatives of the conditional state of Franklin said that they had been given rights to the territory from north of the Little Tennessee River to the Cumberland Mountains by North Carolina, although in 1785 this area had been affirmed by treaty as Cherokee territory.
Outraged by the Treaty of Coytoy, in May 1788 a Cherokee party killed eleven of twelve members of the John Kirk family, who were homesteaders on Little River southwest of present-day Knoxville, Tennessee. John Kirk, the head of the family, was away at the time.
Col. John Sevier, who was attempting to suppress the Overhill uprisings, led retaliatory raids against numerous Cherokee towns in the Little Tennessee Valley. Another officer, Major James Hubbard persuaded Old Tassel, chief Abraham of Chilhowee, and three other Cherokee to meet him to parley under a flag of truce at Abraham's house. He allowed Kirk to murder them by tomahawk for revenge in June 1788.
The Maryland Gazette harshly condemned the murders of the chiefs, saying that the flag of truce was "a protection inviolable even amongst the most barbarous people, sacred by the law and custom of nations..." The Cherokee considered these murders to be atrocities, and many gave new support to Dragging Canoe and his warriors afterward. Ultimately this resulted in the Cherokee Massacre at Cavett's Station on September 25, 1793.