1867 – 1872
Born in Eastern Tennessee, he came over the Trail of Tears and settled near Breadtown Baptist Mission. After converting to Christianity, he became an ordained minister. He was elected to the Cherokee Senate in 1845, and on four separate occasions was a member of the Washington Delegation. He served in the Union Army during the U.S. Civil War. He was elected Acting Principal Chief by the National Council during this time while Principal Chief John Ross was in exile. After Ross’ death, Downing carried the official responsibility until 1866. Downing helped organize a new political party, and has been credited with bringing peace between the full-blood and mixed-blood factions. He died while in office.