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American Cherokees, Betrayal Of Tears Essay

1180 words - 5 pages

Betrayal of Tears
Many factors were involved that threatened the sovereignty of the Cherokee people in the 19th century. Ethnocentrism on behalf of the American people, racism and prejudice on behalf of the states and the inability of the President and government of the United States to implement or support the very rules and acts they created to protect and honor the Cherokees and their land. However, the greatest threat to the Cherokee's right to their own land, as well as their right to their own culture, rules and lifestyle, came from within the people. The inability of the Cherokee people to band together and agree to oppose outside insistence, forces and threats proved to be ...view middle of the document...

In this crucial time of Native progression and acclimation to White-American culture is where you can see the initial separation of the Cherokee people. While most Natives embraced and followed the new civilization program, those who wholeheartedly submerged themselves in the American culture seemingly viewed more traditional Cherokees with disdain. Elizabeth Taylor, a Cherokee student at Brainerd Mission, wrote in a letter addressed to benefactor, Miss Abigail Parker, of the unenlightened aspects of Cherokee tradition. She makes reference to fire dances led by women adorned with shells, rain summons involving a conjurer throwing a black cat into water, sick remedies by supernatural forces and incoherent tongues, rituals involving torture and self mutilation before eating crops and so on. In her letter, Taylor writes "Many about this station are more civilized. Some come to meeting and appear as well as white people." 1 This disapproval of her predecessors customs and traditions, and the desire to emulate the white people's mannerisms, culture and appearance, allows for a separation and divide between the young generation and their seemingly "rude" and "uncivilized" elders.
There were those who initially resisted the states' and American government's insistence on Indian Removal that eventually began to change their views. Elias Boudinot is a prime example of such aforementioned persons. Missionary educated and editor of the Cherokee's national newspaper, the Cherokee Phoenix, Boudinot wrote editorials and printed messages and letters explaining the Nation's case against removal. This publication was not solely for the people of the Nation, but also citizens of the United States and Europeans as well. The newspaper was an important factor for the Cherokee's cause and provided those on the outside insight into their problems which promoted sympathy. When his views on removal began to shift, Boudinot wanted to allow for debate on the issue of removal to be published in the paper. Principal Chief John Ross and the Council would not allow it and Boudinot resigned.
While still in support of Cherokee opposition to removal, Boudinot challenges American intentions to civilizing Indians. "The truth is, while a portion of the community have been, the the most laudable manner, engaged in using efforts to civilize and christianize the Indian, another portion of the same community have been busy in counteracting those efforts." 2. After Georgia state officials refused to comply with the Supreme Court ruling which ordered the release of imprisoned missionaries, Elias Boudinot,...

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