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Snowbird Cherokees: People of Persistence (Brown Thrasher Books) Paperback – September 1, 1993
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Neely presents a thoughtful, readable study of a harmonious people coping with the pressures of preserving their traditions and adapting to change.(Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
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I preface the review with these statements because when I read this book, I felt like I was "back home." Dr. Neely obviously cares a great deal about this community. Perhaps it makes her ethnology somewhat biased, but it certainly livens up this book! Her descriptions of the annual gospel singing event at Snowbird were on the mark, and her description of the constant factionalism among the Eastern Cherokee band is also (sadly) accurate.
The most useful thing about this book for someone who knows nothing else about the Cherokee is that it explains how the "harmony ethic" is still a part of the way some (but not most) Cherokees live, how it has subtly changed the Cherokee way of practicing Christianity, and how these people use it to deal with modern political and economic life. It shows that it is possible to be "traditional", in a sense, while being fully engaged with the modern world. It also shows that Indians are not the cardboard cutouts so often seen in the movies, or in "New Age" explorations of native spirituality.
If you read this, back it up with Finger's broader histories of the Eastern band, Mooney's classic exploration of Cherokee mythology, and, if you take them with a grain of salt, the Garretts' "Cherokee medicine" series. Then, take a trip to Graham County, preferably around Memorial Day weekend when you can be a part of Snowbird's annual "Fading Voices" festival at Little Snowbird Church, stopping in Robbinsville to visit the Junaluska Burial Place. You'll be welcomed, but if you can't make it Snowbird, this book is the next best thing.
I bought this book while visiting the Qualla Boundary, in order to broaden my appreciation of the fascinating Cherokees. Looking back, I still feel like I am just a "white boy with a clip board, asking a lot of questions." Very humbling. At times, this book made me feel like I was dropping in on their homes.
I wanted to get a glimpse of the ancient Cherokee. This book looks into the past somewhat, preferring to concentrate on the present. It is loaded with strong insights on the modern Cherokee condition. One of the minor reasons the Trail of Tears happened has been attributable (elsewhere) to divisions among the Cherokee. Today, subtle divisions continue, particularly between pure Cherokee (such as the Snowbirds) and the mixed-blood Cherokee. I had no idea this was going on, extending even to the modern era.
The important controversy over seat(s) on the council seemed a bit over-analyzed. But maybe that reflects the lingering nature of the controversy. If you can handle that, you will enjoy the rest of the book just fine.
Thomas Mails' book (recommended to me by a Cherokee) remains my jaw-dropping favorite reference regarding the ancient Cherokee.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Bought this as a gift for my mother and she loved it. We are descendant from Snowbird Cherokees and it just so happens my grandfather shows up inside these pages. Quite excitingPublished 10 months ago by Nanci Easter
It was so researched, to be accurate in the telling that it made one proud to have Indian Heritage no matter how far down your ancestral line. Read morePublished on April 4, 2014 by Diane hollen
the work is well worthe read time especiallyif you live or trvel to this area of our country highly descriptivePublished on December 2, 2012 by william kennedy