Tsali was a Cherokee folk hero who sacrificed his life for his people. They were in hiding from the US government who had ordered the removal of the Cherokee from their native lands.
Tsali, known also as Charley, was a farmer who had little concern for politics. During the 1830s, however, the Native Americans were forcefully removed by the American government, and Tsali became a Cherokee legend as a result of his actions during the removal. In short, the legend states that Tsali gave himself up to the government to be executed, so that the rest of the Cherokees need not be removed.
Who Was Tsali?
Little is known about Tsali’s life prior to the 1830s. He is recorded to have had a wife and three sons. Tsali and his family lived in a cabin near the mouth of the Nantahala River, where it flows into the Little Tennessee River, not far from what is today Bryson City, North Carolina.
In 1819, all territory to the east of the Little Tennessee River was ceded by the Cherokee government to North Carolina. As a result, a group of the most conservative Cherokee decided to withdraw from the Cherokee Nation.