Bad Fruits of the Civilized Tree: Alcohol and the Sovereignty of the Cherokee Nation

By Izumi Ishii | Go to book overview

Introduction

Before European contact, Native people of North America, with a few exceptions, had virtually no knowledge of alcohol.1 Early European accounts of Indian drinking, however, suggest that once Indians acquired a taste for liquor, it functioned as an agent of European conquest. Through the gift and trade of liquor, Europeans disrupted Native societies and threatened to destroy them. Simultaneously, Indians'inebriation appalled European observers, who quickly incorporated alcohol into their myths about Native behavior. By prohibiting the sale and consumption of alcohol among Indians in the early nineteenth century, the U.S. government politicized this image, gave it “official recognition,” and helped perpetuate it.2 The image of drunken Indians has had a powerful influence on the lives of Native people. Furthermore, this deep-rooted notion of Indian drunkenness has overwhelmed scholars who study Native Americans and has prevented them from making an objective analysis of alcohol in Indian societies and cultures.3 Although Indian historians all agree that “ardent spirits,” a product of the European encounter, have posed a threat to Native American societies for centuries, none of them has explored specifically the issues of alcohol — its use, abuse, and control—among a particular Native people. This study traces the history of alcohol among

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Bad Fruits of the Civilized Tree: Alcohol and the Sovereignty of the Cherokee Nation
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Indians of the Southeast ii
  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Series Preface ix
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • Introduction 1
  • 1: Alcohol Arrives 13
  • 2: A Struggle for Sovereignty 39
  • 3: The Moral High Ground 59
  • 4: Alcohol and Dislocation 83
  • 5: A Nation Under Siege 111
  • 6: Cherokee Temperance, American Reform, and Oklahoma Statehood 133
  • Conclusion 165
  • Notes 169
  • Bibliography 219
  • Index 245
  • In the Indians of the Southeast Series 261
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