Though it is small in size, this book has been several years in the making. Its genesis dates back to 1969 when I attended the dramatic presentation of the "Trail of Tears" at the outdoor TSA-LA-GI amphitheater in the Cherokee Cultural Complex near Tahlequah, Oklahoma. The work has grown to fruition through several research papers read at historical conventions and articles published in scholarly journals.
The Cherokee Indians are a proud and ancient people. Their history reaches far back beyond definitely calculated time to the ages when tradition fathered history. At one time the Cherokees had hoped to remain apart and aloof from the white man and his civilization. White explorers, traders, trappers, missionaries, road builders, and squatters rendered that wish impossible, however, and convinced the more progressive Cherokees that they had to adopt the white man's civilization in order to survive. This decision was not unanimous, however, and well before 1800 some tribesmen had moved to the trans-Mississippi West to escape the encroachment of the white man. The vast majority who remained in the East, however, succeeded exceedingly well in their acculturation--so well that they were visited by American and European whites curious to observe the cultural and ethnological phenomenon of the primitive "forest children" who were evolving into a civilized nation within the span of two generations.
Most Cherokees were cognizant of the efficacy of voluntary acculturation and quickly accepted the accouterments of European civilization, including the institution of black slavery. Nevertheless, as late as 1975 an adequate documented treatment of the subject had never appeared in print. Myriad volumes of monographs, textbooks, biographies, essays, anthologies, and other works treating the history of the American Indian and the Afro-American are rolling from the nation's presses in seemingly ever-increasing numbers. These works sometimes refer to the subject briefly (often obliquely) and usually provide misinformation and perpetuate long-accepted myths.