practices within their own parameters. They allowed their slaves many of the same rights and privileges accorded to adopted captives during the pre-assimilation era.
It would not be fair, however, to paint Cherokee slaveholding as a kinder and benevolent alternative to white slaveholding. It is, after all, still slavery. Assumptions of racial superiority were adopted from whites. Punishments for slave insubordination, while generally mild, could be severe. One slaveholder, James Varn, after being attacked and robbed by his slaves, responded with particular fervor. He burned one of his attacked alive and shot another.
Young Branches. Missionary Education
In 1799 Cherokee leaders, such as Little Turkey, began to praise the benefits of white education. In 1801 a school was established by a Moravian missionary to educate Cherokee children in reading, writing, and arithmetic. This school was the first to teach Western education in the Cherokee Nation. The founder of the school was the ideologically driven Reverend Blackburn, the leading proponent of the movement to educate the Cherokee on the American side of the question. In 1803 Blackburn presented a wide-reaching education program to the October Council of the Cherokee. He was granted permission to undergo its implementation. He believed that Cherokee children were "the key to the problem of civilizing the tribe."13 President Jefferson allotted funds for this purpose. The motivations of the Moravians had subversive elements. "One of the primary concerns of the Moravians was instilling a work ethic into what they considered to be a lazy culture."14 Missionaries were intent on making Indian men farmers and Indian women submissive housewives.
Cherokee children acquired western education with a remarkable ease and rapidity. In a letter to a fellow Reverend, Blackburn stated "in the course of the first week we had twenty-one children, who all gave flattering evidence of promising geniuses."15 By 1805 Reverend Blackburn was already showing
13. Woodward, 123.
14. Joel Spring, "Cultural Transformation of a Native American Family and its Tribe, Mahwah: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1996), 66.
15 Rev. Gideon Blackburn, "An Account of the Origin and Progress of the Mission to the Cherokee Indians; in a Series of Letters from the Rev. Gideon Blackburn, to the Rev. Dr. Morse," in Woodward, 124.