By Jean A. Flanagan
In 1751, when European traders were leaving the Tennessee Valley because of attacks by hostile natives, a Cherokee Chief named Ostenaco gathered 47 men to patrol the trade routes and protect the traders. He realized the importance of trade between the Cherokee and the British and French.
Ostenaco, a Cherokee leader in the French-Indian War, will be portrayed by Doug Wood of Hurricane in a West Virginia Humanities Council History Alive! program on Saturday May 27, at the Lost River Artisans Cooperative and Museum.
Ostenaco was born in 1703 in present day Polk County, Tennessee. As a boy he quickly learned the qualities of a good warrior and was given the title of “Outacite” or “mankiller.”
He also became aware that his people depended on the goods, such as gunpowder and fabric, from the European traders.
When England and France disputed control of the Eastern half of North America, which evolved into the French and Indian War, Ostenaco convinced the Cherokee to side with the British.
Although there were skirmishes between the Cherokee and the English settlers, the two eventually made peace.
In 1761, Ostenaco expressed a desire to meet King George III, with the help of Lt. Henry Timberlake, sailed to England in May of that year. Ostenaco met with King George III in July 1761.
Ostenaco remained loyal to the British and during the American Revolution, supported other Indian tribes against the colonists.
Ostenaco died in 1780.
The History Alive! presentation will feature a talk by Ostenaco followed by a question and answer period. Audience members are encouraged to converse with Ostenaco about his life in colonial America.
After the presentation, Doug Wood, who portrays Ostenaco will break character and the audience can ask questions about the History Alive! program and Wood‚Äôs experience in becoming Ostenaco.
In addition to the regular History Alive! program, Wood and his wife Dianne will demonstrate and share aspects of Indian life with the audience.
The schedule for Saturday’s presentation is as follows:
Noon – 12:30 p.m. – Gardening/gathering/food preparation
12:30 – 1 p.m. – 18th Century Eastern Woodland Indians and animal interactions, with an interactive deer drive game.
1 – 1:45 p.m. History Alive! presentation of Ostenaco.
2 – 2:30 p.m. Eastern Woodland Indian weapons and other implements of war.
The program is free and open to the public. Families are encouraged to attend.
Ostenaco is one of the many available character presentations offered through the West Virginia Humanities Council’s History Alive! program as a means of exploring history by interacting with noteworthy historical figures. This program also is supported by the Lost River Grill and Motel.