Bushyhead served as major Cherokee-San Diego connection

07/17/2013 09:03 AM
Main Cherokee Phoenix
The home of Cherokee Edward “Ned” Wilkerson Bushyhead in San Diego. Bushyhead moved to California and eventually started the San Diego Union-Tribune newspaper. COURTESY PHOTO
Special Correspondent

SAN DIEGO – San Diego is 1,250 miles from Tahlequah, Okla., as the crow flies. Being so far away, one might not think it has many Cherokee connections. But that thinking is wrong. In fact, San Diego’s association with members of the Cherokee Nation goes back to the 1800s.

Edward “Ned” Wilkerson Bushyhead was part of an influential Cherokee family. His immediate family served on the CN Supreme Court and as principal chief. At age 7, Bushyhead traveled the Trail of Tears with his family. Settling near Fort Smith, Ark., he apprenticed out early at a newspaper. This career would follow him much of his life. He worked on the Cherokee Advocate and the Cherokee Messenger.

The gold rush of 1849 motivated many Cherokees to move to California. Bushyhead followed the trail laid by members of his own family. After giving up his quest for gold, he stayed in California and got back into the publishing business.

In 1868, Bushyhead moved a newspaper from central California to San Diego. His co-publisher and he called their new paper “The Union.” His daily paper was the third daily newspaper in California at the time of its first publication. While Bushyhead eventually sold his interest in The Union, it continued to grow. The San Diego Union-Tribune (or U-T, as it is called) is San Diego’s largest newspaper.

Bushyhead was not satisfied in just running a newspaper. He also had an interest in law enforcement. He held the position of elected sheriff of San Diego County from 1882-86. In those days, San Diego County ran all the way to the Arizona state line. From 1899 through 1903, Bushyhead served as the chief of police for San Diego. He was the only person to have held both of these positions.

When Bushyhead died in 1907, his remains were taken back to Tahlequah. His life in San Diego was not forgotten. In an editorial after his death a prominent San Diegan said if there are any more Cherokees like Bushyhead in Oklahoma that they would be happy to have them come to San Diego to Live.

One of his Victorian homes still stands in San Diego’s Old Town as part of a living museum. There is even an area in San Diego called Cherokee Point.

Bushyhead may be gone, but a Cherokee presence continues on in San Diego. The San Diego Cherokee Community is one of the CN’s satellite communities. Hundreds of Cherokees call San Diego home. San Diego Cherokees have lots of family and many friends in the 14 counties. The SDCC strives to keep that connection strong. The SDCC has provided both goods and money for charities in and around Tahlequah. Following in Bushyhead’s footsteps, the San Diego membership includes published authors and law enforcement officials. The SDCC gathers on a regular basis to share history, language, music, stories and all things Cherokee.

For more information, visit http://sandiegocherokeecommunity.com or Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/pages/San-Diego-Cherokee-Community/141274513308


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