Watie, a Cherokee Indian, was born in Georgia in 1806. In the 1830s he was one of the signers of the Treaty of New Echota, in which the Cherokees agreed to cede their lands in the southeast in exchange for a new homeland in the Indian Territory. Approved by the U. S. Senate, the treaty was controversial in part because principal chief John Ross was not a signatory. Many of the signers of the treaty were eventually targeted for assassination but not all were actually attacked. However, Major Ridge, John Ridge, and Elias Boudinot were assassinated; Stand Watie escaped the attempt on his life.
When the Civil War started, Watie cast his allegiance with the Confederacy, and eventually became the only Indian to achieve the rank of general during the war. His wartime career mostly occurred in the Indian Territory where he achieved a reputation as a rather daring raider. For example, he led a force that captured a valuable Union wagon train at 2nd Cabin Creek in September 1864, and his men even captured a steamboat on the Arkansas River. Watie did not surrender his small force until June 1865 giving them the distinction of being the last organized group of Confederates to surrender. Watie survived the war for only six years, dying in the Indian Territory in 1871.
Watie’s gravesite is not near an interstate highway or close to any large urban centers. Perhaps he would appreciate the fact that Polson Cemetery is still in the midst of a rural area in Delaware County, Oklahoma. Tyson Foods trucks rumble along, though, on a state highway several miles to the east. Driving to the cemetery from my hometown of Pryor, Oklahoma, involved traveling on state highway 20 to the Arkansas state line, then heading north on state highway 43 to the town of Southwest, Missouri, and then west into Oklahoma about three miles. Googling “Polson Cemetery” will yield an accurate and helpful map.
Two photographs of Watie’s gravesite:
And, close to Watie's final resting place are markers for John Ridge and Major Ridge, assassinated signers of the Treaty of New Echota: