Cherokee Americans: The Eastern Band of Cherokees in the Twentieth Century

Cherokee Americans: The Eastern Band of Cherokees in the Twentieth Century

Cherokee Americans: The Eastern Band of Cherokees in the Twentieth Century

Cherokee Americans: The Eastern Band of Cherokees in the Twentieth Century

Synopsis

Much has been written about the forced removal of thousands of Cherokee Indians to present-day Oklahoma in the 1830s. Many of them died on the Trail of Tears. But until recently historians have largely ignored the tribal remnant that avoided removal and remained in North Carolina. John R. Finger shifts attention to the Eastern Band of Cherokees, descended from that remnant and now numbering almost ten thousand, most of whom live on a reservation adjacent to Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Cherokee Americans is, ironically, the first comprehensive account of the twentieth-century experience of a band that is known to and photographed by millions of tourists.

This book is a sequel to The Eastern Band of Cherokees, 1819-1900 (1984) by John R. Finger, who is a professor of history at the University of Tennessee.

Excerpt

Completing this book in 1989 is appropriate because it coincides with the150th anniversary of the Cherokee Nation's arrival in present-day Oklahoma after a long and deadly trek over the Trail of Tears. It also marks the 100th anniversary of the legal incorporation of a smaller Cherokee group in North Carolina. From 1889 to the present, the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians has operated under a North Carolina charter while simultaneously enjoying federal recognition as a tribe. Comprising nearly 10,000 members claiming descent from a small remnant who avoided removal during the 1830s, the Eastern Band today occupies a reservation of more than 56,000 acres in the mountains of western North Carolina. Although they share a common cultural heritage with the Oklahoma Cherokees, its members have a separate legal and tribal identity. Historians and popular writers alike have written much about removal and the Cherokee Nation but have largely ignored the Band. I therefore view this book as a corrective. It is an attempt to weave the disparate threads of Eastern Cherokee experience into a comprehensive tribal history from 1900 to the present and stands as a sequel to my 1984 work, The Eastern Band of Cherokees, 1819-1900. I hope it will be useful to scholars, interested laypersons, and especially members of the Band who wish to learn more about their own past.

That Cherokees--or any Indians--remain in the Southeast is something of a surprise to those people whose conception of Indians is limited to well- known western tribes like the Sioux, Apaches, or Navajos. Yet thousands of Native Americans live in the eastern United States, from Maine to Florida . . .

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