A Struggle for Sovereignty
At the turn of the nineteenth century, Cherokee society began to experience profound changes. A more sophisticated commercial economy emerged, and tribal government began to centralize and assert its sovereignty. Missionaries and U. S. agents attempted to instill a new value system of selfdiscipline and social reform. All of these changes involved alcohol. Culturally incorporated into the Cherokees' colonial society, alcohol and its consumption in the early nineteenth century began to be enmeshed more thoroughly into the politics of the Cherokee Nation. Alcohol regulation provided the Cherokees a way to assert their nationalism, and the Cherokee Nation and the federal government both manipulated the issue of alcohol to achieve political goals. By prohibiting the sale and consumption of alcohol only among Indians, the U.S. government insisted that it had jurisdiction over the liquor trade. The Cherokees countered that they had the legal authority to regulate the liquor traffic themselves. As a bone of contention between the Cherokee Nation and the United States, the regulation of alcohol in the 1820s reflected larger struggles over sovereignty.
The United States did not immediately introduce alcohol regulations to Native societies. Intercolonial rivalry had hindered the enforcement of antiliquor laws in Indian coun