Left To Themselves, The Cherokee Would Become A Prosperous, Independent Commonwealth, And Would Never Sell Their Lands

Overview

This dissertation examines the responses of the Cherokee Nation and of Moravian Protestant missionaries working amongst them to the United States' 'civilization' program in the early nineteenth-century. It draws upon the extensive records of the Brethren's Springplace mission in northern Georgia to show that both the Cherokees and the Moravians used the program as an umbrella under which to pursue their own agendas. Each group only adopted those elements of 'civilization' that allowed them to further their own ...
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Overview

This dissertation examines the responses of the Cherokee Nation and of Moravian Protestant missionaries working amongst them to the United States' 'civilization' program in the early nineteenth-century. It draws upon the extensive records of the Brethren's Springplace mission in northern Georgia to show that both the Cherokees and the Moravians used the program as an umbrella under which to pursue their own agendas. Each group only adopted those elements of 'civilization' that allowed them to further their own aims. Neither accepted the ethos driving the program, namely that Indigenous peoples needed to absorb white culture and worldviews wholesale to become acculturated 'white Indians' in order to function in the mainstream of American life. These actions undermined the fundamental beliefs that the 'civilization' program was grounded upon, and contributed to acculturation's replacement with removal. The Cherokee resisted acculturation by adopting only those elements of the 'civilization' program that would not undermine their own cultural identity. This meant that the literacy missionaries offered was welcomed, but their Christian religious message was not. Literacy would allow the Cherokee to function without disadvantage in the white world, by guarding them against fraud, but Christianity had no functional purpose for the Cherokee, and thus it was rejected in favor of continued adherence to Indigenous beliefs and practices. Cherokee men such as James Vann also rejected the imposition of Western gender roles, and refused to take up the plow and get involved in agriculture, traditionally women's work amongst the Cherokee. Instead Vann and others like him adopted chattel slavery, allowing them to exchange the traditional Cherokee male pursuits of hunting and war for trade and business without being emasculated by having to adopt a traditionally feminine role in agriculture. The Moravians also undermined the 'civilization' program by pursuing only the religious element with any enthusiasm. For the Brethren the religious realm was the only one that mattered, and the temporal world was immaterial. Thus the Moravians failed to challenge Cherokee men like James Vann for their failure to become farmers, as their earthly pursuits had no bearing upon their spiritual standing. The Brethren further undermined the 'civilization' program by undercutting the institution of slavery in the South. Despite the dictates of Count Zinzendorf that all Moravian missionaries should avoid involvement with 'political' issues in order to quietly pursue their religious goals, the Brethren's treatment of slaves, most notably their convert Jacob and Pleasant, the female slave bought for Springplace, served to undermine core Southern beliefs in the inherent inferiority of non-white peoples. Thus both the Cherokee and the Moravians pursued their own goals within the confines of the 'civilization' program, but neither was fully committed to its governing ethos of the inferiority of non-white peoples and the South's racial hierarchy.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781243626677
  • Publisher: BiblioLabsII
  • Publication date: 9/4/2011
  • Pages: 400
  • Product dimensions: 7.44 (w) x 9.69 (h) x 0.82 (d)

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