Texas Originals

Chief Bowl

ca. 1756–July 16, 1839

Cherokee leader Chief Bowl, also known as "Bowles" and "Duwali," was born in North Carolina around 1756 to a Scottish father and a Cherokee mother. In the early nineteenth century, Bowl led the first large Cherokee emigration west of the Mississippi River—to Missouri, then Arkansas, and finally to the Mexican province of Texas. There, in a settlement near Nacogdoches, Bowl headed an alliance of Cherokee villages. 

Bowl helped Mexico defeat Anglo settlers in the Fredonian Rebellion of 1827. Nevertheless, the Mexican government refused to recognize Cherokee land claims in East Texas.

In 1836, Sam Houston, acting as a commissioner of the provisional Texas government, negotiated a treaty with Chief Bowl that secured Cherokee land rights, but the Republic of Texas later rejected the treaty. Texas president Mirabeau B. Lamar called for an "exterminating war" to expel the Cherokee from the Republic.

In 1839, the Texas army defeated the Cherokee near the headwaters of the Neches River. During the battle, Chief Bowl, now eighty-three, carried a sword given to him by his friend Sam Houston, who had once lived among the Cherokee. The heroic chief was among the last to die in the battle. 

The Cherokee fled to the Indian Territory in present-day Oklahoma. After passing through several hands, Bowl's battle sword was presented to the Cherokee Nation in 1890.

For More about Chief Bowl

The American Indian Cultural Society maintains the land outside of Tyler where Chief Bowl was killed on July 16, 1839. In 1936, the State of Texas erected a marker to honor Bowl on the land.

Artist Michael Boyett created a bronze sculpture to honor Sam Houston and Chief Bowl's 1836 signing of a treaty granting Cherokee land rights in Texas. Dedicated in 2003, it stands at 700 East Main Street in Nacogdoches.

Selected Bibliography 

Clarke, Mary Whatley. Chief Bowles and the Texas Cherokees. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1971.

Everett, Dianna. The Texas Cherokees: A People between Two Fires, 1819–1840. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1990.

Everett, Diana. "Bowl." Handbook of Texas Online. Accessed July 15, 2013.

Finkelman, Paul and Tim Alan Garrison, eds. "Bowl." Encyclopedia of United States Indian Policy and Law. Vol. 1. Washington DC: CQ Press, 2009: 131–132.

Winfrey, Dorman. "Chief Bowles and the Texas Cherokees." Chronicles of Oklahoma 32 (Spring 1954): 29–41.

Winkler, E. W. "The Cherokee Indians in Texas." Quarterly of the Texas State Historical Association 7 (October 1903): 96–165.

Woldert, Albert. "The Last of the Cherokees in Texas and the Life and Death of Chief Bowles." Chronicles of Oklahoma 1 (June 1923): 179–226.

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Spanish Translation

Download the Spanish translation of this Texas Originals script.

Portrait of Chief Bowl. Prints and Photographs Collection, Texas State Library and Archives Commission. #1/102-661.
Nacogdoches statue of Sam Houston and Chief Bowl signing the 1836 treaty to grant land rights to Native Americans in East Texas.