The Cherokee Nation and the Trail of Tears

The Cherokee Nation and the Trail of Tears

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by Theda Perdue, Michael Green
     
 

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In the early nineteenth century, the U.S. government shifted its policy from trying to assimilate American Indians to relocating them, and proceeded to forcibly drive seventeen thousand Cherokees from their homelands. This journey of exile became known as the Trail of Tears.

Historians Perdue and Green reveal the government's betrayals and the divisions within

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Overview

In the early nineteenth century, the U.S. government shifted its policy from trying to assimilate American Indians to relocating them, and proceeded to forcibly drive seventeen thousand Cherokees from their homelands. This journey of exile became known as the Trail of Tears.

Historians Perdue and Green reveal the government's betrayals and the divisions within the Cherokee Nation, follow the exiles along the Trail of Tears, and chronicle the hardships found in the West. In its trauma and tragedy, the Cherokee diaspora has come to represent the irreparable injustice done to Native Americans in the name of nation building-and in their determined survival, it represents the resilience of the Native American spirit.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“ With a rich sense of Cherokee culture and history . . . the authors . . . recount a human story, not only tragic but also unbelievably heroic.”—Los Angeles Times
Los Angeles Times
With a rich sense of Cherokee culture and history . . . the authors . . . recount a human story, not only tragic but also unbelievably heroic.
Publishers Weekly

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 Cherokeev. Georgiaand 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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Kirkus Reviews
A brief account of the Cherokee people and its tragic encounters with European and American newcomers. One of the first volumes in the new Penguin Library of American Indian History, this study by Perdue and Green (both History/Univ. of North Carolina-Chapel Hill) sets the Trail of Tears removals of the 1830s in the context of a long history of conflict, alliance and failed treaties with the British crown and the U.S. government. The former regarded the Cherokees' vast domain, which extended from north Georgia to Kentucky, as a resource to be used when the proper time came, believing "that Indian land fell far short of its potential productivity." Even so, the British preferred the buffer zone that the Cherokees provided between their holdings and those of the French to any other gains, and so crown policy specifically forbade encroachment by land-hungry colonials. The American government had no such scruples; Thomas Jefferson, working from what he considered to be consistent Enlightenment principles, held that the Cherokees were capable of learning to be civilized-which meant going to work in factories, shopping at stores, incurring debt, etc.-and that selling their land to white settlers was the first step toward that end. "He ordered his agents to intensify the pressure on the tribes to sell more and larger tracts of land," write the authors, "and he let it be known that threats, intimidation, and bribery were acceptable tactics to get the job done." In the post-War of 1812 flush of newfound nationalism and the first formulation of Manifest Destiny, the Cherokee were pushed aside while their lands, increasingly, saw encroachment by farmers, miners and other white settlers. For theirown good, supposedly, the Cherokees were finally marched off to reservations in eastern Oklahoma-removals that, the authors write, cost the Cherokee people thousands of dead and thousands more unborn. An illuminating history, devoted to an often overlooked and long-suffering people.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780143113676
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
06/24/2008
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
208
Sales rank:
320,522
Product dimensions:
7.50(w) x 5.02(h) x 0.56(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
“ With a rich sense of Cherokee culture and history . . . the authors . . . recount a human story, not only tragic but also unbelievably heroic.”—Los Angeles Times

Meet the Author

THEDA PERDUE , Ph.D. , formerly was president of the American Society for Ethnohistory. She is a professor of history at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and has been appointed to a Guggenheim fellowship. MICHAEL D. GREEN , Ph.D. , is a professor of history and American studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

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