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Americans, nor to paint the Cherokee in an overly sentimental or idealized light in order to use them as a foil against Western civilization. Rather, I will attempt to bring together a number of divergent studies of different aspects of this paradoxical period into a straightforward and readable context. In doing so the overall picture of the hows and whys of this unprecedented acculturation become clearer, and the answers to the questions I've proposed above become more comprehensible.

Roots

After years of sporadic warfare with the United States, the Cherokee settled down to peace with the Treaty of Holston in 1791. Warfare with rebel groups of the Cherokee, such as the Chickamaugans, would continue for another ten years before being finally suppressed by the US Army. At the turn of the century full peace was obtained, and the Cherokee had legal title to their lands. This tranquility would not last long.

In 1802 the Jefferson Administration made a pact with the Georgia state government. This became known as the Georgia Compact. It entailed the sale of Georgia's western lands to the United States for $1,250,000. More importantly, it stated that the US would forfeit her treaty rights with Native American tribes in Georgia. Georgia would gain legal title to Cherokee lands as soon as they could buy them from the Cherokee Nation through peaceful treaty terms.

It has been generally ascertained among historians that the Cherokee assimilated Western Culture as a defense against western encroachment. In the words of one scholar of Cherokee historian:

in a supreme effort to forestall the removal of their people from ancestral homelands to the state of Georgia by the Compact of 1802, progressive Cherokee leaders, many of whom were mixed bloods, undertook an ambitious and aggressive program that would further Cherokee education and religion: replace Cherokee culture with that of the educated and Christianized white man; and-of utmost importance-convert the Cherokee's tribal government…into a republic substantially patterned after that of the United States.1

Many of the Cherokee proponents of assimilation were mixed bloods who had received

 


1. Grace Stele Woodward, The Cherokees (Norman, OK: The University of Oklahoma Press, 1969), 139.
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