The Cherokee Nation is one of the largest and most important of all the American Indian tribes. The first history of the Cherokees to appear in over four decades, this is also the first to be endorsed by the tribe and the first to be written by a Cherokee. Robert Conley begins his survey with Cherokee origin myths and legends. He then explores ...
The Cherokee Nation is one of the largest and most important of all the American Indian tribes. The first history of the Cherokees to appear in over four decades, this is also the first to be endorsed by the tribe and the first to be written by a Cherokee. Robert Conley begins his survey with Cherokee origin myths and legends. He then explores their relations with neighboring Indian groups and European missionaries and settlers. He traces their forced migrations west, relates their participations on both sides of the Civil War and the wars of the twentieth century, and concludes with an examination of Cherokee life today. Conley provides analyses for general readers of all ages to learn the significance of tribal lore and Cherokee tribal law. Following the history is a listing of the Principal Chiefs of the Cherokees with a brief biography of each and separate listings of the chiefs of the Eastern Cherokees and the Western Cherokees. For those who want to know more about Cherokee heritage and history, Conley offers additional reading lists at the end of each chapter. "Conley speaks with a clear Cherokee Indian voice to show how his tribe's cultural characteristics have survived centuries of abrupt change."--"The Cherokee Advocate" "[Robert Conley is] in the ranks of N. Scott Momaday, Louise Erdrich, James Welch or W. P. Kinsella as interpreters of the many facets of the Native American experience."--"Fort Worth Star-Telegram"
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An interesting book that can be used in a lot of different categories. The short chapters are followed by 1. a source list and suggestions for further reading and 2. a glossary of terms. Like many tribes native to North America, the Cherokee society was originally based on matrilineal descent and sought to maintain a balance within nature. Land was held in common and most everyone had a say in governing the tribe. When the Europeans arrived the Native American culture began changing, becoming more paternalistic. Treaties were made with 'leaders' that had no real authority to make treaties. Lands were, in essence, stolen. Yet even after the Cherokee removal treaties of the mid-1800s the tribe held land in common and was succeeding in providing for its people. However, perhaps the most interesting 'idea' to get from the book is some in Congress thought the Cherokee needed to become greedy to become civilized. "In 1885 Senator Henry Dawes of Massachusetts described the Cherokee Nation "there was not a family in that whole Nation that had not a home of its own. There is not a pauper in that Nation, and the Nation does not owe a dollar. It built its own capitol...and built its school and hospitals. Yet the defect of the system was apparent. They have got as far as they can go, because they hold their land in common...there is no selfishness, which is at the bottom of civilization."
While the book concentrates on the Cherokee and affiliated tribes, it also says a lot about Euro-American history and society. The idea that if a group has something better than us we must bring them down to our level or push them below it seems to have permeated large segments of our history and society.
An easily read and logically segmented book, Cherokee Nation should be used to supplement American History courses, perhaps starting at the Middle school level.
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