Rise and Fall of the Cherokee Nation
By John Ehle
The author John Ehle approaches the discuses of the Cherokee Nation rather abstractly. Leavening very little detail out he is able to capture the feeling, emotions, and meaning if this time period within his book. Trail of Tears The Rise and Fall of the Cherokee Nation focuses on many aspect of Native American life. Ehle take the reader back in time to experience what time Native American felt. This story is told from a _ point of view allowing the reader to connect instantly. More than one story is told within this book. Ehle includes letters, story within stories journal excerpts, military commands and historical facts to prove his knowledge and study in this field and make the read more enjoyable. The underlying topic of this book is the Trails of Tears.
This book “Traces the removal of the Cherokee Nation to “Indian Territory” (primarily Arkansas and Oklahoma) where they would “never” be bothered by whites again.”() The trails of tear is…
Ehle not only focuses on this horrendous event but he provides background too. He is sure to explain other governmental factors that impacted the Cherokee nation.
The focus is on the “Treaty Party,”
Adaptation to European-American culture, language, religion, and even
The story begins with some background and the birth of a Cherokee man named Ridge not too long before the American Revolutionary War.
The white impact has already begun to be felt, as one of Ridge’s forebears is white, and he and his family are driven into the wilds by the war.
After the war ends, the new Americans have one craving — land and more land.
A gold strike in Georgia adds to the fever. The Cherokee, along with the Choctaw, Creek, and other southern tribes, are perceived as “wasting” land that their white counterparts should be entitled to.
American expansionism and greed will displace the Native peoples
Meanwhile, Ridge, who will not convert to Christianity but who wholeheartedly adopts many white ways for himself and his children, becomes not only a wealthy plantation owner but a leader of the Cherokee Nation. His son becomes an attorney, while Boudinot becomes the first editor of the Cherokee newspaper, The Phoenix. Both young men marry white New Englanders they meet while at school. Ridge and his family and allies are the first to see the writing on the wall — that the Cherokees will be removed; it is a matter of whether it is “voluntarily” on their own terms in their own time or involuntarily.
The principal chief of the Cherokee, a Cherokee-Scot named John Ross, is portrayed as a man in a state of denial. It is never clear how he thought the Cherokee could overcome the overwhelming tide of white intrusion without bloodshed and without losing. He and his followers blame the Ridge faction for selling the Cherokee out when they sign the Treaty of 1835 that puts the seal on the removal. They feel that they can continue to “negotiate,” not realizing that Andrew Jackson has set the tone and the terms — and that the federal government under his leadership has loaded the die. Ehle is no John Ross fan; when the inevitable finally happens and the Cherokee are removed, Ross sends them via the lengthy, dangerous, time-consuming land route, resulting in hundreds if not thousands of deaths (the number remains unknown), while Ross and his family use the quicker, less treacherous water routes.
There are several dichotomies in this history — the Upper Towns vs. the Lower Towns; the full-bloods vs. those with white ancestors/family; the uneducated (mostly full-bloods, according to Ehle) vs. the educated (John Ridge, Boudinot); the federal government vs. state government (a dichotomy that would be resolved violently through the Civil War). A forest/mountain vs. town dichotomy is also evident.
In any case, anything that speaks of the way the Cherokee used to be is seen as “primitive,” while Cherokee adoption of white ways is lauded by…