Big Mush (unknown–1839)

By: Dianna Everett

Type: Biography

Published: 1952

Updated: May 1, 1995

Big Mush, known to early settlers also as Hard Mush and among his people as Gatunwali, was a principal diplomat or "war chief" of the Cherokee Indians. His village in Texas, established at an unknown date, was one of several Cherokee communities. In 1827, when the Cherokees backed out of the abortive Fredonian Rebellion, Big Mush succeeded Richard Fields as chief diplomat, or war chief of the Cherokees' intervillage council. The next year, 1828, he headed the diplomatic team that hosted members of Terán's expedition visiting in Texas. In February 1836 Big Mush was a signatory of the Cherokee Treaty negotiated by Sam Houston. The treaty's rejection by the Texas Senate in 1837 subsequently led Big Mush and Chief Bowl to ally with Mexican agents preparing for invasion of Texas. As a result of this action, President Mirabeau B. Lamar ordered the Cherokees to leave Texas. Refusing to acquiesce in the expulsion of their people, Big Mush, Bowl, and the Cherokee council prepared people for war. Both met death in the battle of the Neches on July 16, 1839.

Mary Whatley Clarke, Chief Bowles and the Texas Cherokees (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1971). Dianna Everett, The Texas Cherokees: A People between Two Fires, 1819–1840 (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1990). Frederick Webb Hodge, ed., Handbook of American Indians North of Mexico (2 vols., Washington: GPO, 1907, 1910; rpt., New York: Pageant, 1959). E. W. Winkler, "The Cherokee Indians in Texas," Quarterly of the Texas State Historical Association 7 (October 1903). Albert Woldert, "The Last of the Cherokees in Texas and the Life and Death of Chief Bowles," Chronicles of Oklahoma 1 (June 1923).
  • Peoples
  • Native American
  • Chiefs and Other Leaders

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Dianna Everett, “Big Mush,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed May 28, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

May 1, 1995