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Snowbird Cherokees: People of Persistence (Brown Thrasher Books) Paperback – September 1, 1993

4.6 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

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)

From the Back Cover

This is the first ethnographic study of Snowbird, North Carolina, a remote mountain community of Cherokees who are regarded as simultaneously the most traditional and the most adaptive members of the entire tribe. Through historical research, contemporary fieldwork, and situational analysis, Sharlotte Neely explains the Snowbird paradox and portrays the inhabitants' daily lives and culture. At the core of her study are detailed examinations of two expressions of Snowbird's cultural self-awareness--its ongoing struggle for fair political representation on the tribal council and its yearly Trail of Tears Singing, a gathering point for all North Carolina and Oklahoma Cherokees concerned with cultural conservation.
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Product Details

  • Series: Brown Thrasher Books
  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: University of Georgia Press; Reprint edition (September 1, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0820315753
  • ISBN-13: 978-0820315751
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,343,289 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By A Customer on March 1, 2004
Format: Paperback
My family has roots in the Snowbird community; Both of my grandparents on my father's side lived in the Snowbird area, as do many of my cousins to this day. My two aunts moved to the main Qualla rez, and my father left Snowbird for the Navy, and then college in 1956, and never moved back. Even so, there is no place on earth where I feel more at home than the Snowbird mountains.
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.
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Format: Paperback
By the time chapter one is finished, the reader has the comforting sense that they have somehow become part of the Snowbird community. Chapter two, one of my personal favorites, defines a "real Indian." You just might be surprised at the definition Sharlotte uncovered and the source of some of the discrimination felt by the Snowbird population. If for no other reason, this book should be read for this chapter. Far too often, we are satisfied to settle for loose definitions penned by someone without the slightest notion of understanding and the result is invariably and simply wrong. Sharlotte, though, has listened carefully to the voices of these fascinating people; she has let them define their existence within the parameters of their own culture. There is no finer type of understanding than the one which is born within the confines of the specific culture and this book humbly delivers a powerful punch of humanistic reality. Simply put, this work is an import! ant contribution to the very essence of cultural relativism and should not be missed.
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Format: Paperback
I was lucky enough to take a course from Dr. Neely (Modern American Indians) at Northern Kentucky University and this was a required textbook. Her class was one of the most interesting I have taken as an anthropology major. Her detailed ethnograpy on the Snowbird Cherokees is a must for anyone interested in Cherokee Indians or Indians of the Southeastern United States. She spent several years living with the Snowbirds prior and after writing the book if I remember correctly. You really get a feel how life is like for the Snowbirds. I definately recommend this book!
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Format: Paperback
If you love the Cherokee as I do, you will want to read this book. It takes you into the heart of the Snow Bird community and their daily challenges. The context of the study is "just right," making appropriate mention of neighboring white and Cherokee communities.

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.
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