From 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 Cherokee
(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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Perdue and Green illuminate the Cherokee experience, beginning with their first contact with Europeans, around 1540, when the De Soto expedition visited their southern Appalachian territory. Their numbers were decimated by waves of epidemics beginning in 1697, and they ceded half their land to the British in the mideighteenth century. The U.S. government first attempted to "civilize" the Cherokees, but after the War of 1812, the policy of removal took precedence, as the Cherokees and their allies lost the battle of tribal nationalism versus states' rights. After 1836 the Trail of Tears, as the deportation of thousands from their homeland is now called, began in earnest. Donovan, Deborah Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved