Today, a fraction of the Cherokee people remains in their traditional homeland in the southern Appalachians. Most Cherokees were forcibly relocated to eastern Oklahoma in the early nineteenth century. In 1830 the U.S. government shifted its policy from one of trying to assimilate American Indians to one of relocating them and proceeded to drive seventeen thousand Cherokee people west of the Mississippi.
The Cherokee Nation and the Trail of Tears recounts this moment in American history and considers its impact on the Cherokee, on U.S.-Indian relations, and on contemporary society. Guggenheim Fellowship-winning historian Theda Perdue and coauthor Michael D. Green explain the various and sometimes competing interests that resulted in the Cherokee's expulsion, follow the exiles along the Trail of Tears, and chronicle their difficult years in the West after removal.
This compact book by eminent historians Perdue and Green moves from the time when all Cherokees lived in the southern Appalachians to their forced expulsion to the Indian Territory, as American policy morphed from civilizing Native Americans to what might today be deemed ethnic cleansing. The Indian Removal Act (1830) fixed in law a revolutionary program of political and social engineering that caused unimaginable suffering, deaths in the thousands, and emotional pain that lingers to this day. It's a tangled tale of partisan politics and Cherokee power struggles, of juridical argument and economic motive, of bitter personal disputes and changing public policy. Perdue (Columbia Guide to American Indians of the Southeast) and Green (The Cherokee Removal) have written a lucid, readable account of the legal complexities of the 18th-century right of conquest doctrine and the 19th-century emerging doctrine of state rights; the treaties, alliances, obligations and assurances involved; and the landmark cases Cherokee v. Georgia and Worcester v. Georgia (one effectively denying Cherokee self-government, one ineffectively affirming Cherokee sovereignty). Over it all hangs the disquieting knowledge that in the history of interaction between Euro-Americans and Indians, Cherokee removal [exemplifies] a larger history that no one should forget. (July)
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July 05, 2007
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