Joel B. Mayes

Joel Bryan Mayes

The election campaign which led to the term of 1887-1891 was one of most bitter in the history of the Cherokee Nation.

Chief Bushyhead allegedly tried to block the results of the election by keeping the ballots from being counted by the Senate. Federal agents and a committee broke into the capitol building, broke down a door and took the ballots away from Bushyhead, and after being counted, it was determined that Mayes had won. During his term, he negotiated the sale of the Outlet lands to the Federal government.

A teacher, lawyer and farmer, he opposed opening the Unassigned Lands to settlement. One newspaper account read, “Chief Mayes was offered $50,000 cash to sign the bill and refused with politeness.” Later he said, “We don’t have to sell the Cherokee Nation.” In the campaign of 1891, Mayes ran with Stephen Teehee in a three party race. Mayes won, but another candidate was elected as Assistant Chief…Henry Chambers. On December 10, after the officials took office, Assistant Principal Chief Chambers died, and four days later, Mayes also died.