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Indians of the Southeast

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Indians of the Southeast

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Bad Fruits of the Civilized Tree

Alcohol and the Sovereignty of the Cherokee Nation

Izumi Ishii

Bad Fruits of the Civilized Tree examines the role of alcohol among the Cherokees through more than two hundred years, from contact with white traders until Oklahoma reached statehood in 1907. While acknowledging the addictive and socially destructive effects of alcohol, Izumi Ishii also examines the ways in which alcohol was culturally integrated into Native society and how it served the overarching economic and political goals of the Cherokee Nation.
 
Europeans introduced alcohol into Cherokee society during the colonial era, trading it for deerskins and using it to cement alliances with chiefs. In turn Cherokee leaders often redistributed alcohol among their people in order to buttress their power and regulate the substance’s consumption. Alcohol was also seen as containing spiritual power and was accordingly consumed in highly ritualized ceremonies. During the early-nineteenth century, Cherokee entrepreneurs learned enough about the business of the alcohol trade to throw off their American partners and begin operating alone within the Cherokee Nation. The Cherokees intensified their internal efforts to regulate alcohol consumption during the 1820s to demonstrate that they were “civilized” and deserved to coexist with American citizens rather than be forcibly relocated westward. After removal from their land, however, the erosion of Cherokee sovereignty undermined the nation’s ongoing attempts to regulate alcohol. Bad Fruits of the Civilized Tree provides a new historical framework within which to study the meeting between Natives and Europeans in the New World and the impact of alcohol on Native communities.

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Choctaw Resurgence in Mississippi

Race, Class, and Nation Building in the Jim Crow South, 1830-1977

Katherine M. B. Osburn

When the Choctaws were removed from their Mississippi homeland to Indian Territory in 1830, several thousand remained behind, planning to take advantage of Article 14 in the removal treaty, which promised that any Choctaws who wished to remain in Mississippi could apply for allotments of land. When the remaining Choctaws applied for their allotments, however, the government reneged, and the Choctaws were left dispossessed and impoverished. Thus begins the history of the Mississippi Choctaws as a distinct people.

 

Despite overwhelming poverty and significant racial prejudice in the rural South, the Mississippi Choctaws managed, over the course of a century and a half, to maintain their ethnic identity, persuade the Office of Indian Affairs to provide them with services and lands, create a functioning tribal government, and establish a prosperous and stable reservation economy. The Choctaws’ struggle against segregation in the 1950s and 1960s is an overlooked story of the civil rights movement, and this study of white supremacist support for Choctaw tribalism considerably complicates our understanding of southern history. Choctaw Resurgence in Mississippi traces the Choctaw’s remarkable tribal rebirth, attributing it to their sustained political and social activism.

 

 

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Creeks and Southerners

Biculturalism on the Early American Frontier

Andrew K. Frank

Creeks and Southerners examines the families created by the hundreds of intermarriages between Creek Indian women and European American men in the southeastern United States during the eighteenth and early nineteenth century. Called “Indian countrymen” at the time, these intermarried white men moved into their wives’ villages in what is now Florida, Georgia, and Alabama. By doing so, they obtained new homes, familial obligations, occupations, and identities. At the same time, however, they maintained many of their ties to white American society and as a result entered the historical record in large numbers.
 
Creeks and Southerners studies the ways in which many children of these relationships lived both as Creek Indians and white Southerners. By carefully altering their physical appearances, choosing appropriate clothing, learning multiple languages, embracing maternal and paternal kinsmen and kinswomen, and balancing their loyalties, the children of intermarriages found ways to bridge what seemed to be an unbridgeable divide. Many became prominent Creek political leaders and warriors, played central roles in the lucrative deerskin trade, built inns and taverns to cater to the needs of European American travelers, frequently moved between colonial American and Native communities, and served both European American and Creek officials as interpreters, assistants, and travel escorts. The fortunes of these bicultural children reflect the changing nature of Creek-white relations, which became less flexible and increasingly contentious throughout the nineteenth century as both Creeks and Americans accepted a more rigid biological concept of race, forcing their bicultural children to choose between identities.

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Demanding the Cherokee Nation

Indian Autonomy and American Culture, 1830-1900

Andrew Denson

Demanding the Cherokee Nation examines nineteenth-century Cherokee political rhetoric to address an enigma in American Indian history: the contradiction between the sovereignty of Indian nations and the political weakness of Indian communities. Making use of a rich collection of petitions, appeals, newspaper editorials, and other public records, Andrew Denson describes the ways in which Cherokees represented their people and their nation to non-Indians after their forced removal to Indian Territory in the 1830s. He argues that Cherokee writings on nationhood document a decades-long effort by tribal leaders to find a new model for American Indian relations in which Indian nations could coexist with a modernizing United States.

Most non-Natives in the nineteenth century assumed that American development and progress necessitated the end of tribal autonomy, that at best the Indian nation was a transitional state for Native people on the way to assimilation. As Denson shows, however, Cherokee leaders found a variety of ways in which the Indian nation, as they defined it, belonged in the modern world. Tribal leaders responded to developments in the United States and adapted their defense of Indian autonomy to the great changes transforming American life in the middle and late nineteenth century. In particular, Cherokees in several ways found new justification for Indian nationhood in American industrialization.

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Epidemics and Enslavement

Biological Catastrophe in the Native Southeast, 1492-1715

Paul Kelton

Epidemics and Enslavement is a groundbreaking examination of the relationship between the Indian slave trade and the spread of Old World diseases in the colonial southeastern United States. Paul Kelton scrupulously traces the pathology of early European encounters with Native peoples of the Southeast and concludes that, while indigenous peoples suffered from an array of ailments before contact, Natives had their most significant experience with new germs long after initial contacts in the sixteenth century. In fact, Kelton places the first region-wide epidemic of smallpox in the 1690s and attributes its spread to the Indian slave trade.
 
From 1696 to 1700, Native communities from the Atlantic Coast to the Mississippi Valley suffered catastrophic death tolls because of smallpox. The other diseases that then followed in smallpox’s wake devastated the indigenous societies. Kelton found, however, that such biological catastrophes did not occur simply because the region’s Natives lacked immunity. Over the last half of the seventeenth century, the colonies of Virginia and South Carolina had integrated the Southeast into a larger Atlantic world that carried an unprecedented volume of people, goods, and ultimately germs into indigenous villages. Kelton shows that English commerce in Native slaves in particular facilitated the spread of smallpox and made indigenous peoples especially susceptible to infection and mortality as intense violence forced malnourished refugees to huddle in germ-ridden, compact settlements. By 1715 the Native population had plummeted, causing a collapse in the very trade that had facilitated such massive depopulation.

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The Invention of the Creek Nation, 1670-1763

Steven C. Hahn

Drawing on archaeological evidence and utilizing often neglected Spanish source material, The Invention of the Creek Nation, 1670–1763, explores the political history of the Creek Indians of Georgia and Alabama and the emergence of the Creek Nation during the colonial era in the American Southeast. In part a study of Creek foreign relations, this book examines the creation and application of the “neutrality” policy—defined here as the Coweta Resolution of 1718—for which the Creeks have long been famous, in an era marked by the imperial struggle for the American South.

Also a study of the culture of internal Creek politics, this work shows the persistence of a “traditional” kinship-based political system in which town and clan affiliation remained supremely important. These traditions, coupled with political intrusions of the region’s three European powers, promoted the spread of Creek factionalism and mitigated the development of a regional Creek Confederacy. But while traditions persisted, the struggle to maintain territorial integrity against Britain also promoted political innovation. In this context, the territorially defined Creek Nation emerged as a legal concept in the era of the French and Indian War, as imperial policies of an earlier era gave way to the territorial politics that marked the beginning of a new one.

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The Moravian Springplace Mission to the Cherokees, Abridged Edition

Edited and with an introduction by Rowena McClinton

In 1801 the Moravians, a Pietist German-speaking group from Central Europe, founded the Springplace Mission at a site in present-day northwestern Georgia. The Moravians remained among the Cherokees for more than thirty years, longer than any other Christian group. John and Anna Rosina Gambold served at the mission from 1805 until Anna’s death in 1821. Anna, the principal author of the diaries, chronicles the intimate details of Cherokee daily life for seventeen years. Anna describes mission life and what she heard and saw at Springplace: food preparation and consumption, transactions pertaining to land, Cherokee body ornaments, conjuring, Cherokee law and punishment, Green Corn ceremonies, ball play, and matriarchal and marriage traditions. She similarly recounts stories she heard about rainmaking, the origins of the Cherokee people, and how she herself conversed with curious Cherokees about Christian images and fixtures. She also recalls earthquakes, conversions, notable visitors, annuity distributions, and illnesses. This abridged edition offers selected excerpts from the definitive edition of the Springplace diary, enabling significant themes and events of Cherokee culture and history to emerge. Anna’s carefully recorded observations reveal the Cherokees’ worldview and allow readers a glimpse into a time of change and upheaval for the tribe.

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Rivers of Sand

Creek Indian Emigration, Relocation, and Ethnic Cleansing in the American South

Christopher D. Haveman

At its height the Creek Nation comprised a collection of multiethnic towns and villages stretching across large parts of Alabama, Georgia, and Florida. By the 1830s, however, the Creeks had lost almost all this territory through treaties and by the unchecked intrusion of white settlers who illegally expropriated Native soil. With the Jackson administration unwilling to aid the Creeks in removing the squatters, the Creek people suffered from dispossession, starvation, and indebtedness. Between the 1825 Treaty of Indian Springs and the forced migrations beginning in 1836, nearly twenty-three thousand Creek Indians were relocated—voluntarily or involuntarily—to Indian Territory. Rivers of Sand fills a substantial gap in scholarship by capturing, for the first time, the full breadth and depth of the Creeks’ collective tragedy during the marches westward, on the Creek home front, and during the first years of resettlement.
 

Unlike the Cherokee Trail of Tears, which was conducted largely at the end of a bayonet, most Creeks were removed through a combination of coercion and negotiation. Hopelessly outnumbered military personnel were forced to make concessions in order to gain the compliance of the headmen and their people. Christopher D. Haveman’s meticulous study uses previously unexamined documents to weave narratives of resistance and survival, making Rivers of Sand an essential addition to the ethnohistory of American Indian removal.

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The Second Creek War

Interethnic Conflict and Collusion on a Collapsing Frontier

John T. Ellisor

Historians have traditionally viewed the “Creek War of 1836” as a minor police action centered on rounding up the Creek Indians for removal to Indian Territory. Using extensive archival research, John T. Ellisor demonstrates that, in fact, the Second Creek War was neither brief nor small. Indeed, armed conflict continued long after “peace” was declared and the majority of Creeks had been sent west. Ellisor’s study also broadly illuminates southern society just prior to the Indian removals, a time when many blacks, whites, and Natives lived in close proximity in the Old Southwest. In the Creek country, also called New Alabama, these ethnic groups began to develop a pluralistic society. When the 1830s cotton boom placed a premium on Creek land, however, dispossession of the Natives became an economic priority. Dispossessed and impoverished, some Creeks rose in armed revolt both to resist removal west and to drive the oppressors from their ancient homeland. Yet the resulting Second Creek War, which raged over three states, was fueled not only by Native determination but also by economic competition and was intensified not least by the massive government-sponsored land grab that constituted Indian removal. Because these circumstances also created fissures throughout southern society, both whites and blacks found it in their best interests to help the Creek insurgents. This first book-length examination of the Second Creek War shows how interethnic collusion and conflict characterized southern society during the 1830s.

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Seminole Voices

Reflections on Their Changing Society, 1970-2000

Julian M. Pleasants and Harry A. Kersey Jr.

In a series of interviews conducted from 1969 to 1971 and again from 1998 to 1999, more than two hundred members of the Florida Seminole community described their lives for the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program at the University of Florida. Some of those interviews, now showcased in this volume, shed light on how the Seminoles’ society, culture, religion, government, health care, and economy had changed during a tumultuous period in Florida’s history. In 1970 the Seminoles lived in relative poverty, dependent on the Bureau of Indian Affairs, tourist trade, cattle breeding, handicrafts, and truck farming. By 2006 they were operating six casinos, and in 2007 they purchased Hard Rock International for $965 million. Within one generation, the tribe moved from poverty and relative obscurity to entrepreneurial success and wealth. Seminole Voices relates how economic changes have affected everyday life and values. The Seminoles’ frank opinions and fascinating stories offer a window into the world of a modern Native community as well as a useful barometer of changes affecting its members at the beginning of the twenty-first century.

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