The Cherokee

“Though the civilization program had only limited success among most tribes, reformers delighted in chronicling Cherokee progress toward the normative standards of white society.” This quote emphasizes how narrow minded the “white society” was.  They did not realize that just because the Cherokees lived differently, didn’t make them out of the norm or savage.  The two articles are named “Cherokee Accommodation and Persistence in the Southern Appalachians” and “Appalachia in Time and Place”.  The Cherokee Indians previously lived in multiple areas such as Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Tennessee.  These Natives had a very traditional way of life, hunting, fishing, growing crops, making tools, and constructing villages for survival.  They did not have a single government that they were ruled by, instead they had chiefs and people of “higher power” that were recognized and respected in the tribe.  Eventually, white people came to where the Cherokee resided and tried to teach them their ways.  The white government tried to come and change everything about the Cherokee culture to reflect a more American way of life.  Traditionally, women in the Cherokee tribe worked the fields and provided much manual labor for the families.  Due to the ‘Cult of True Womanhood” women were encouraged to give up their previous ways and become more domesticated, restricted to doing cooking, cleaning, and sewing.  In addition to converting the Cherokees to a more patrilineal focused culture, the government aimed to convert all natives to their Christian ways.  They believed that the only way to control or “civilize” natives.  This was a problem for many of the Cherokees because their religion was based on the belief that animals, plants, bodies of water, and other objects contained a soul, and therefor were worshiped.  This is extremely different from Christian beliefs.  The Cherokees were forced to move from their villages, even though they had treaties saying they had rights to the land, and had to convert from small villages to widespread log cabins.  Before long, the Cherokees had completely transformed from their traditional ways to a mix of tradition and American ways.  They adopted a written constitution and had “Elites” that essentially ruled over the people.  Once the colonial period hit, the Cherokees were essentially dependent on English trade goods.  Even though the Cherokee adopted all these foreign ways, they were never fully accepted in society.  In some states, they were not even recognized at citizens and were still considered savages.  I think this is a very good example of how corrupt and non-accepting people/governments can be.  People assumed just because the Cherokees did not live their lives exactly the same as them, they were “uncivilized” or “savage”.  Clearly, this is not true as the Cherokee Indians had a very effective system of living and survived quite well.  I believe that by changing their culture, they took away the tradition and uniqueness of the society as a whole.  Once the Americans had “infiltrated” their community, aspects of their lives changed forever.


IMAGES, WEEK 7. (n.d.). Retrieved August 30, 2016, from

Pudup, Mary Beth., Dwight B. Billings, Altina L. Waller, and John L. Finger. Appalachia in the Making: The Mountain South in the Nineteenth Century. Chapel Hill: U of North Carolina, 1995. Print.