Demanding the Cherokee Nation: Indian Autonomy and American by Andrew Denson

By Andrew Denson

Demanding the Cherokee Nation examines nineteenth-century Cherokee political rhetoric to handle an enigma in American Indian historical past: the contradiction among the sovereignty of Indian countries and the political weak point of Indian groups. using a wealthy number of petitions, appeals, newspaper editorials, and different public files, Andrew Denson describes the ways that Cherokees represented their humans and their state to non-Indians after their compelled elimination to Indian Territory within the 1830s. He argues that Cherokee writings on nationhood rfile a decades-long attempt by way of tribal leaders to discover a brand new version for American Indian relatives within which Indian countries may well coexist with a modernizing usa.

Most non-Natives within the 19th century assumed that American improvement and development necessitated the top of tribal autonomy, that at top the Indian kingdom was once a transitional country for local humans so as to assimilation. As Denson indicates, even if, Cherokee leaders came upon numerous ways that the Indian state, as they outlined it, belonged within the smooth international. Tribal leaders spoke back to advancements within the usa and tailored their safeguard of Indian autonomy to the nice adjustments remodeling American lifestyles within the center and overdue 19th century. specifically, Cherokees in numerous methods stumbled on new justification for Indian nationhood in American industrialization.

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Extra info for Demanding the Cherokee Nation: Indian Autonomy and American Culture, 1830-1900 (Indians of the Southeast)

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In 1802 Georgia ceded to the United States lands to the west of its modern border, territory originally included in its colonial charter. In return the federal government promised to purchase for Georgia all remaining tribal property in the state. Under the assumptions guiding early American Indian policy, this was a reasonable action. As the Cherokees and Creeks living within the state’s borders became civilized, they would yield their land. As time went on, however, the Cherokees proved increasingly unwilling to give up further territory; the Creeks did eventually cede their Georgia possessions and made their stand in Alabama.

The state then completed its legal absorption of the Cherokee country in 1830 by establishing a process to parcel out the tribal lands to Georgia citizens. The Cherokees responded by calling on the federal government to protect the tribe. Led by John Ross, who had been elected principal chief under the 1827 constitution, they reminded Congress and the new president of the treaties, in which the United States had promised repeatedly to defend the Cherokees against American citizens. They continued their public-relations efforts, as well, aided by their missionary allies.

That expertise allowed them to move more easily into the American market economy. It also made them useful as diplomats and political leaders, and mixed-lineage Cherokees assumed increasingly important roles in tribal politics in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. John Ross, the son of a Scottish merchant and a mixed-race Cherokee mother, was the most famous example. His formal education and informal experience with non-Indians made him an ideal representative of the tribe in its dealings with the United States, while his maternal kin provided him with a Cherokee identity and a network of potential political allies.

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