Richard Fields, one-eighth Cherokee, was diplomatic chief of his tribe in Texas, sharing leadership with Chief Bowl. Fields was born around 1780 and was first noted in 1801 as an emissary of the Cherokee council to United States agents in Tennessee. He appeared as an interpreter on September 19, 1812, at the Council House treaty council in the Chickasaw country. In 1814, during the War of 1812, he served as captain of a unit of Cherokee auxiliaries attached to Gen. Andrew Jackson's army. Fields appeared in Texas around 1820, at about the time Chief Bowl brought the Cherokees into the region; he was leader of one of several Cherokee villages in East Texas. Because of his skill and experience in diplomacy, Fields was chosen by the Cherokee intervillage council to negotiate a Spanish land grant for his people. In late 1822 he led a delegation to San Antonio de Béxar to present the Cherokee request to Governor José Félix Trespalacios. Trespalacios and Fields agreed that the Cherokees would provide patrols to guard the Sabine against American incursions and against smuggling; in return, the Cherokees could remain on their East Texas land, and Fields's delegation was permitted to travel to Mexico City to petition the viceroy. Fields's mission was to secure a grant of territory for the Cherokees, but Agustín de Iturbide's overthrow of the Spanish government and the resulting political turmoil in Mexico City spoiled that opportunity. Later, after Emperor Iturbide's abdication in March 1823, Fields unsuccessfully petitioned the new congress for assistance. The Cherokee delegation left Mexico City without having secured a grant. After his return to Texas, Richard Fields continued to serve as diplomatic chief of the Cherokees. In 1824 Fields became involved with trying to unite the Texas Indian tribes into a grand alliance and encouraging other nomadic tribes to settle in Texas. These efforts alarmed the Mexican government and hampered land negotiations. In 1826, despairing of ever receiving an official grant of territory from the Mexican government, Fields sought other means of obtaining land for his people. He and John Dunn Hunter, an American residing among the Cherokees and serving as a political advisor of sorts, began negotiations with Martin Parmer, Benjamin W. Edwards, and other Anglo-Americans living around Nacogdoches. The allies formed a Fredonian Republic that divided Texas between the Indians and the Anglo-Americans. The Mexican government moved quickly to quash the impending uprising, however, and the Cherokee council reversed course and refused to take part in the Fredonian Rebellion. After trial by the Cherokee council, Richard Fields and John Dunn Hunter fled; they were captured separately and were executed in early February 1827.
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Eugene C. Barker, ed., The Austin Papers (3 vols., Washington: GPO, 1924–28). Richard Drinnon, White Savage: The Case of John Dunn Hunter (New York: Schocken, 1972). Dianna Everett, The Texas Cherokees: A People between Two Fires, 1819–1840 (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1990). Edmund Morris Parsons, "The Fredonian Rebellion," Texana 5 (Spring 1967). Emmet Starr, History of the Cherokee Indians and Their Legends and Folklore (Oklahoma City: Warden, 1921).
- 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, “Fields, Richard,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed October 29, 2020, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/fields-richard.
Published by the Texas State Historical Association.