Home |  PublicationsEncyclopedia |  Bushyhead, Dennis Wolfe

The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture

Dennis Bushyhead
(4390, Oklahoma Historical Society Photograph Collection, OHS).


A Cherokee chief, Dennis Wolfe Bushyhead was born on Mouse Creek near present Cleveland in Bradley County, Tennessee, on March 18, 1826. His father was the Rev. Jesse Bushyhead, who was a Baptist minister and a member of the Chief John Ross faction. Dennis Bushyhead began his education at the Candy Creek Mission in Tennessee and continued until his sophomore year at Princeton College. He removed to the Cherokee Nation, Indian Territory, in 1839.

The California gold fields beckoned Bushyhead, and he left home in 1849. He returned in 1868 and served as treasurer of the Cherokee Nation from 1871 to 1879. In 1879 he was elected principal chief, an office he held until 1887. During his two terms as chief Bushyhead dealt with issues of importance to the Cherokee Nation that included railroad rights-of-way, land allotment, education, white intruders, tribal citizenship, and grazing rights. He was very much concerned with the individual citizens of the Cherokee Nation, as his personal correspondence indicates.

In 1897 Bushyhead was a member of a Cherokee commission that protested the "proposal of the [United States] government relating to the extinguishment of our national title to the lands of the Cherokee Nation." Bushyhead married twice, had five children, and adhered to the Baptist faith. He died on February 4, 1898, and was buried in Tahlequah.

Corie Delashaw


Harold Keith, "Problems of a Cherokee Principal Chief," The Chronicles of Oklahoma 17 (September 1939).

John Bartlett Meserve, "Chief Dennis Wolfe Bushyhead," The Chronicles of Oklahoma 14 (September 1936).

H. Craig Miner, "Dennis Bushyhead," in American Indian Leaders: Studies in Diversity, ed. R. David Edmunds (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1980).


The following (as per The Chicago Manual of Style, 17th edition) is the preferred citation for articles:
Corie Delashaw, “Bushyhead, Dennis Wolfe,” The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture, https://www.okhistory.org/publications/enc/entry?entry=BU015.

Copyright and Terms of Use

No part of this site may be construed as in the public domain.

Copyright to all articles and other content in the online and print versions of The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History is held by the Oklahoma Historical Society (OHS). This includes individual articles (copyright to OHS by author assignment) and corporately (as a complete body of work), including web design, graphics, searching functions, and listing/browsing methods. Copyright to all of these materials is protected under United States and International law.

Users agree not to download, copy, modify, sell, lease, rent, reprint, or otherwise distribute these materials, or to link to these materials on another web site, without authorization of the Oklahoma Historical Society. Individual users must determine if their use of the Materials falls under United States copyright law's "Fair Use" guidelines and does not infringe on the proprietary rights of the Oklahoma Historical Society as the legal copyright holder of The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and part or in whole.