Synopses & Reviews
Demanding the Cherokee Nation examines nineteenth-century Cherokee political rhetoric in reassessing an enigma in American Indian history: the contradiction between the sovereignty of Indian nations and the political weakness of Indian communities. Drawing from a rich collection of petitions, appeals, newspaper editorials, and other public records, Andrew Denson describes the ways in which Cherokees represented their people and their nation to non-Indians after their forced removal to Indian Territory in the 1830s. He argues that Cherokee writings on nationhood document a decades-long effort by tribal leaders to find a new model for American Indian relations in which Indian nations could coexist with a modernizing United States.
Most non-Natives in the nineteenth century assumed that American development and progress necessitated the end of tribal autonomy, and that at best the Indian nation was a transitional state for Native people on the path to assimilation. As Denson shows, however, Cherokee leaders articulated a variety of ways in which the Indian nation, as they defined it, belonged in the modern world. Tribal leaders responded to developments in the United States and adapted their defense of Indian autonomy to the great changes transforming American life in the middle and late nineteenth century, notably also providing cogent new justification for Indian nationhood within the context of emergent American industrialization.
"Lambert's book is clearly written and thought-provoking. If you are interested in Native American culture, you owe it to yourself to pick up this book and hear a different voice."and#8212;Greg Langley, The Advocate
andquot;Anyone interested in general American Indian, Cherokee, and southern culture and history should be encouraged to read Up from These Hills, which would be a good addition to any public or academic library east of the Mississippi River.andquot;andmdash;Joanna Anderson, Tennessee Library Association
"Wonderfully written and an absolute joy to read. Its presentation is direct, detailed, and leaves the reader wanting more. Most notably, the book represents not only a significant addition to Cherokee history but also to studies in print culture."—Gary C. Cheek Jr., American Indian Quarterly
"Denson's study is fresh in its attention to detail and nuance. . . . [The] work is an excellent contribution to scholarship and should be essential for anyone interested in the history of the Cherokees and U.S. Indian affairs."—Steven C. Hahn, American Historical Review
"Denson's study is a powerful reminder that there were realistic and plausible alternatives to the destructive policies of the federal government. As Cherokee politicians recognized, it was entirely possible to construct a federal-tribal relationship in the nineteenth century that preserved Indian sovereignty. It is laudable that Denson has finally given their views serious scholarly attention."—Claudio Saunt, Journal of Southern History
"Andrew Denson does what few historians do in Demanding the Cherokee Nation: He takes Indians at their word, adding much to the short historiography of native intellectual history."—Richard Mize, The Chronicles of Oklahoma
"Well written and rooted in appropriate scholarship, Densons intellectual history of Cherokee political thinking makes an important contribution to the study of Cherokee experience and federal Indian policy."—Walter H. Conser Jr., Journal of American History
"A well-written and important work that examines nineteenth-century U.S. Indian policy from the Cherokees perspective. . . . Every college library should own this book, and students of nineteenth-century U.S. history and Native American studies should give it a high priority on their reading lists."—Wendy St. Jean, North Carolina Historical Review
Born into a storied but impoverished family on the reservation of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, Leonard Carson Lambert Jr.and#8217;s candid memoir is a remarkable story and an equally remarkable flouting of the stereotypes that so many tales of American Indian life have engendered.
Up from These Hills provides a grounded, yet poignant, description of what it was like to grow up during the 1930s and 1940s in the mountains of western North Carolina and on a sharecropperand#8217;s farm in eastern Tennessee. Lambert straightforwardly describes his independent, hardworking, and stubborn parents; his colorful extended family; his eighth-grade teacher, who recognized his potential and first planted the idea that he might attend college; as well as siblings, schoolmates, and others who shaped his life. He paints a vivid picture of life on the reservation and off, documenting work, family life, education, religion, and more. Up from These Hills also tells the true story of how this family rose from depression-era poverty, a story rarely told about Indian families. With its utterly unique voice, this vivid memoir evokes an unknown yet important part of the American experience, even as it reveals the realities behind Indian experience and rural poverty in the first half of the twentieth century.
About the Author
Leonard Carson Lambert Jr. grew up on and around the reservation of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians in western North Carolina and eastern Tennessee during the 1930s and 1940s. He earned his engineering degree at North Carolina State College and worked for Alcoa throughout the world. Michael Lambert earned his doctorate in social anthropology from Harvard University and is currently associate professor of anthropology and African studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Both are enrolled members of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians.