University of Chicago
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
The Cherokees and Cherokees territory
Prior to the arrival of the Europeans to the Cherokees territory, there was no formal association established between them. The Cherokees and the Europeans carried out their societies in vastly distinct ways with opposing gender cores and expectations. Before and after the Europeans became Americans, the Cherokee nation and culture was seen as inferior, particularly because specific rituals, beliefs and behaviors were kept definitely for the women. Men were not privy to these thoughts. The Europeans/Americans from South Carolina had tried to establish a trade relationship with the Cherokees and acquired a small land cession, but this did not count on the Cherokees to support them in their war against the French in North America. Nevertheless, the war continued between the Cherokees and the Europeans, which was followed by continual cession of land. Following this, the Cherokees were enforced to sign one treaty after another with the Americans or the new American government. Each treaty gave away more land to the colonists. In addition, each step that the colonists took forced the Cherokees to move west voluntarily whereby the first to do were the faction referred to as the Chickamaugans. However, most of the Cherokees remained in their homelands until in 1835 when the United States Congress passed the Removal Act (Rozema 129). The Act was meant to remove the Cherokees from their ancestral homelands, thus, the Cherokee rejected to acknowledge the validity of the Removal Act and challenged it in court, and the court ruled in favor of the Cherokees. Nevertheless, the Americans enforced the Cherokees to secure a treaty whereby they would give away all their land in the east for land out west, and because the government of the Cherokee rejected to negotiate, then, other Cherokees signed the agreement without consent and the Americans referred the agreement as a legal document and continued to enforce the Cherokees to live up to its terms.
The Cherokees had no control over the Americans Army and they were forcibly removed from their ancestral homeland in 1838 (Rozema 155). They were removed out of their homeland and driven like cattle into enclosures to await removal. The situations were crowded and unhygienic and the vast majority died in these prisons. Later in 1838, they were forced march to the west whereby approximately 20000 Cherokees were marched. Fortunately, this was referred to as the “Trail of Tears” (Rozema 142). Only a few of the Cherokees managed to escape during the match through hiding out in the mountains. Indeed, around 40000 Cherokees died on the way.
The Cherokees tried to preserve their ancestral land and their culture. Those who betrayed their nation by signing the treaty were referred to as the Treaty Party while those who were forced march were referred to as the Ross Party. The two groups began a civil war that lasted until 1843 whereby at the end of this war, both factions began over and reconstruct their nation. They constructed new churches, schools, and homes.
The Cherokee nation underwent many changes that affected the functions of the Cherokee, especially women within the society. These occurred due to the high influence of the intruding Europeans views of how a civilized community should have been carried out as compared to the traditional functions and views concerning the social status and leadership capability of the Cherokee women. The European brought with them their own edifice of gender, which opposed the Cherokee norms. They held that the proper function of a woman was not to be in balance with man, but rather to be acquiescent due to the European Christian belief that Eve brought sin into the world. The Cherokee had to adopt the European norms whereby women adapted the civilization project to fit their own demands and to embellish rather than transform their culture (Rozema 74). However, though some Cherokee embraced the changes presented to them by the Europeans, many remained with the traditional beliefs while a majority of the Cherokees blended both cultures to fit new technology into the old ways. The role of both men and women drastically changed within the dimensions of their original culture, but found a path to remain in part to fit the changes enforced by the Americans.
In conclusion, after the contact of the Cherokee with the European settlers, the Cherokee tribe took a turn for the worst. The biggest wipe out of the Cherokee from the European settlers was not even on purpose. The European settlers brought with them what was referred to as the hidden enemy. They brought diseases such as influenza, small pox, measles and chicken pox that killed around 90% of the Cherokee population. The result of this contact with the European germs was horrible whereby sometimes entire villages perished in a span of time. Nevertheless, despite all these struggles, they managed to rebuild their own government and still live in America today.
Rozema, Vicki. Cherokee Voices. John F. Blair,., 2002. Print.