RETHINKING CHEROKEE ACCULTURATION:
WOMEN'S RESISTANCE TO AGRARIAN CAPITALISM AND CULTURAL CHANGE, 1800-1838
American Indian Culture and Research Journal 21 (Spring 1997)
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After the Revolutionary war, agrarian capitalism expanded throughout the Southeastern sector of North America, including the Appalachian Mountains where the Cherokees resided. (1) Between 1800-1838, the Cherokees constructed a centralized government based on dispersed farming and patrilineal families. (2) Because of their outward quiescence toward the white "civilization program," the Cherokees have been described by many scholars as the most acculturated of the Southeastern Indian nations. (3) However, the Cherokee cultural transformation was neither as homogeneous nor as pervasive as previously thought.
Historically, agrarian capitalism (a) has shifted control of households, land, and the means of production to men; (b) has triggered public policies that disempower women; and (c) has engendered a new "cult of domesticity" to rationalize the inequitable treatment of wives. (4) Using archival sources and statistical analysis of 1809-1835 censuses, this article will investigate how those three historical processes impacted post-Revolutionary Cherokee women. Moreover, this research will examine the strategies through which Cherokee women resisted the cultural, economic and political changes that threatened their matrilineal powers and rights.
The Capitalist World-Economy as Change Agent
The U.S. government implemented a "civilization program" that aimed to save from destruction the Cherokee "natives of the forest" who were "descendants of the heathen." (5) "Becoming civilized" meant that Cherokee men must become agrarian capitalists, like their white neighbors. (6) Cherokee women were expected to stop the "men's work" they had once done outside their homes, so they could assume "domestic duties" that were characteristic of elite white women. (7) However, the acculturation efforts of whites were not the primary stimulants that would transform Cherokee society; for there were much more powerful catalysts of change at work.
Cherokee towns were devastated by the Revolutionary War, household wealth was destroyed or confiscated, and villages were struck by another epidemic of smallpox in 1783. (8) To complicate matters, the Cherokees were faced with two major dilemmas that had been triggered by the dynamics of the capitalist world-economy. Through their participation in the international fur trade, Cherokees had become increasingly dependent on trade goods; and they had established crucial linkages with the Southeastern export economy. (9) By the early 1800s, however, the global demand for deerskins had plummeted; so the Cherokees "c[ould] not dispose of their furs and skins to advantage." (10)
Capitalist incorporation had stimulated another major problem for post-Revolutionary Cherokees. Participation in the fur trade had ecologically changed the Southern Appalachian Mountains, and that environmental degradation exacerbated their economic difficulties. Deerskins had been the primary export from eighteenth-century villages, but deer and other game were in short supply by 1770. (11) By 1800, the Appalachian forests near Cherokee settlements were "almost depopulated," except for "heaps of white gnawed bones." (12) By 1801, the Indian agent reported that the Cherokees were "not fond of expanding their tillage, but it must increase for their hunting [wa]s fast failing them." (13) Furthermore, deforestation had eliminated the canebrakes from which women collected the natural materials they needed to produce household crafts. (14)
The Post-Revolutionary Cherokee Economy and Internal Polarization
In short, the Cherokees must learn new survival strategies in a world-economy where whites were competing for their lands, their natural resources were endangered, and their trade commodities were redundant. Since the Indian agent believed that "the work of civilizing" the Cherokees was "to teach them agriculture and domestic manufacturing," Cherokee progress toward "civilization" was measured by the degree to which men had accepted plows and women had taken up white domestic arts. (15) The Indian agent was pleased that women acquired easily the skills of spinning and weaving, but white officials did not believe that men were becoming farmers fast enough. (16)
In reality, the Cherokees achieved an agricultural production that paralleled or surpassed that of their white neighbors. In 1830, a missionary lamented that "little progress ha[d] been made in manufactures" since "agriculture [wa]s the principal employment and support of the people." (17) What this prejudiced clergyman did not report was that the Cherokees were very similar, in this regard, to nearby whites. More than three-quarters of Appalachian males were employed in agriculture, compared with a little more than 70 percent of Cherokee men. Also like their Appalachian neighbors, the Cherokees dramatically increased their livestock production and their milling between 1809 and 1828 (see Table 1). (18) Indeed, Cherokee farms in 1835 were generating corn and livestock at a level that surpassed the average Southern and national outputs in 1840. Only in their cultivation of wheat did Cherokee farms lag behind white farms. In 1835, the Cherokees were producing per capita 1.5 times more corn, 1.7 times more hogs, and 1.7 times more cattle than 1840 farms throughout the United States. Similarly, the Cherokees exceeded Southern farm outputs. Moreover, the Cherokees produced corn, hogs, and cattle at levels equivalent to or higher than the 1840 outputs achieved by white settlers in the counties that once comprised Cherokee territory (see Table 2).
By the early 1800s, the Cherokees were integrated into the Southeastern economy. (19) The Cherokee Nation occupied a small segment of the Southern Appalachians-- a regional economy upon which North and South American plantations, the U.S. Northeast, and western Europe depended for grain, livestock, tobacco, and several extractive minerals. (20) The Cherokee Nation was linked by roads and rivers into the transportation networks by which other Appalachians exported their commodities to the Atlantic Coast and to the Northeast. (21) By 1835, the Cherokee Nation was exporting to distant markets 46 percent of its corn, two-thirds of its cattle, one-quarter of its hogs, and three-fifths of its sheep. (22) Like their white neighbors, the Cherokees exported annual drives of cattle, horses, and hogs to the U.S. Deep South and Northeast. (23) In 1828, the Cherokees exported nearly one-fifth of their hogs and 40 percent of their cattle. (24) Large numbers of horses and cattle were exported every year to Georgia, South Carolina, and Virginia; and Cherokee farmers sold large herds to Tennessee speculators for annual drives to northern markets. (25)
If we did not examine below the surface of these national trends, we would assume that the lifestyle of the Cherokees closely paralleled that of Southern whites. However, those economic advantages were not as evenly distributed as these generalized averages suggest. By 1820, the Cherokees were polarized into two distinctly different classes. Power, wealth and land were concentrated into the hands of a small comprador bourgeoisie of merchant-traders, planters, and entrepreneurs who formed the nucleus of the nationalist leadership. (26) However, nearly 80 percent of the families were small farmers who cultivated parcels averaging less than fifteen acres and who produced little surplus. In addition to this material split, Cherokees were stratified around degree of racial mixing and geographical location. Three-quarters of the Cherokees were poorer fullbloods who spoke no English, and these households were concentrated in the mountainous sections of the Nation, as depicted in Figure 1. (27) In 1822, Chief Charles Hicks reported that the Cherokees were "in a progressive state of improvement, more particularly those in the middle part of th[e] nation." Significant economic change had occurred, he claimed, except among those Cherokee families "in the mountainous part of th[e] territory, who have not had the same advantages as those have had in the middle and lower parts of th[e] nation." (28)
During the colonial era, the Cherokees had engaged in agriculture as a subsistence activity. Indian slaves and furs had been the only Cherokee commodities that entered the male-dominated capitalist trade, so female exchanges of small agricultural surpluses were relegated to the informal sector. (29) Women organized field work and controlled agricultural output; and men assisted only in communal ground clearing and preparation for spring planting. (30) By the late 1700s, women's corn was in greater demand in capitalist trade networks than men's hunting exports. (31) By 1800, however, global demand had increased for grains and livestock to provision urban centers and plantation economies, so Cherokee agricultural commodities were now profitable in external trade. (32)
Chief Hicks observed in 1822 that "the high prices demanded of the citizens of the adjoining states for live Stock has primated the interests of farming labor." (33) So Cherokee males responded to the vicissitudes of the world-market by shifting their energies to the production of cattle and horses, an activity that held two advantages. First, cowhides had displaced deerskins as the raw material for European leather manufacturing; and beef and work horses were in high demand in the plantation economy to their immediate south. Consequently, cattle and horses were the most profitable commodities that the Cherokees could produce for external trade. (34) Second, livestock raising did not require a complete abandonment of old ways; for it incorporated many aspects of the hunting tradition. (35) Moreover, Cherokee males would not need to learn new skills; they had been raising horses and cattle since the Colonial era. (36) In 1809, the Cherokees were producing as many cattle per capita as the rest of the U.S.; by 1835, the Cherokees were actually raising more cattle per capita than the rest of the country averaged in 1840 (see Table 2). Cattle raising was pervasive. (37) Elite Cherokees utilized "immense tracts of wilderness" to engage in open-range ranching, but the majority of farms combined the cultivation of grains and subsistence vegetables with small-scale livestock production. (38)
As it incorporates new zones of the globe, capitalism embraces two antithetical labor recruitment mechanisms: (1) an historical proletarianizing of males into laborers who produce surplus commodities for export and (2) a simultaneous historical concentration of women's labor into arenas that are never fully integrated into the male-dominated export economy. (39) Once women's subsistence crops and livestock became profitable as export commodities, the U.S. government and the mestizo elite pressured Cherokees toward a new gender bifurcation of agricultural labor emerged. With the end to warfare and hunting, male elites established their domination over export production of horses and cattle. (40) By 1800, Cherokee corn and cotton were also valued in the export trade; so wealthier male slaveholders gradually expanded their control over field cultivation. (41) By 1825, the Cherokees were shipping cotton and corn down the Tennessee and Mississippi Rivers to New Orleans. (42) In 1835, Cherokee farms produced enough surplus to sell nearly one-half their corn. (43) Consequently, elite males expanded their control over those types of women's crop and livestock production that were newly-linked to the export economy. (44)
Women's Resistance to Male Domination of Trade
Historically, Cherokee women had engaged in distant trade with other Indians; and they had resisted the efforts of whites to exclude them from the colonial European trade. (45) Traditionally, Cherokee women had been accustomed to trading their handicrafts, produce, and hogs to other Indian groups and to white settlers. (46) After the Revolutionary War, women maintained their presence in trade and in the Nation's export sector. As they had done during the colonial era, women dominated exchanges of handicrafts and agricultural crops that they produced. The majority of poorer women were stigmatized by Cherokee elites and missionaries because they persevered in their pre-revolutionary practice of exchanging handmade items in the informal sector. To adjacent whites, they peddled baskets, chickens, pottery, chestnuts, and wild berries. Women also produced and traded buckeye wood dough trays, stone pipe bowls, rhododendron hominy ladles, indigo, and oil from butternut and walnut. (47) During the colonial era, Cherokee women created special basket designs for marketing to whites; and they continued to produce these items after the Revolutionary War. (48) In the 1830s, a northern Georgia slave observed Cherokee women selling "baskets out of canes, de beautifulest baskets" that had been decorated using "natchel dyes." (49) Area merchants exported elaborate baskets and pottery produced for the Charleston market by Cherokee women. (50) Women gathered, cured, and shipped to Charleston large quantities of ginseng and other herbs for re-export to European cities. (51) During the winter, women produced "brown sugar cakes" and peddled them to nearby whites. (52)
In the eyes of white missionaries and Indian agents, female activities were "not held in any degree of reputable estimation," in comparison to men's accumulation of wealth through livestock exports. White change agents expected males to dominate the export trade in cattle and horses. (53) However, it was Beloved Woman Nancy Ward who produced the first large cattle herds in the Nation and who urged Cherokee males to overcome their traditional repugnance of this form of livestock. (54) Women in traditional households routinely raised a few extra cattle for trade, and several wealthier women raised large herds of cattle and sheep. (55) While horses were believed to be male commodities, some women also raised "pretty ponies" for export. (56) Moreover, women produced all the chickens and sheep and many of the hogs that accounted for a sizeable segment of the Nation's annual exports. As part of annual livestock drives from the Nation, women contracted their surplus chickens or hogs to Cherokee drovers who drove them south on commission. Women regularly traded their handcrafted textiles for cattle; and they routinely engaged in trades and sales of corn, cotton, or hogs with white merchants. (57)
Some women embraced agrarian capitalism to a greater extent, and they emerged as important entrepreneurs in the Cherokee Nation. Several women operated highly-profitable travel waystations, livestock stands, and ferries. (58) Nancy Ward operated a nationally-known inn and ferry at Womankiller Ford, and two young women ran small inns on the road that linked the Nation to Nashville and Augusta. (59) Though illiterate, a fullblood woman named Oo-dah-less operated a mill and owned a small company of wagons that hauled goods throughout the Nation. She also sold grain to itinerant droves at her livestock stand. As a result, she "accumulated a very handsome property," including slaves. (60)
Women's Resistance to Gender-Specific Labor
As head of the Women's Council, Nancy Ward urged the men in 1817: "Enlarge your farms and cultivate and raise corn and cotton, and we your mothers and sisters will make clothing for you which our father the president has recommended to us." (61) How thoroughly, then, did Cherokee women accept the new "cult of domesticity" that their Beloved Woman embraced? There are several indicators of cultural diffusion. A decade after Ward's allusion to male dominance of agriculture, the missionaries praised Cherokee women for manufacturing "a great quantity of cloth." (62) By 1828, every household averaged three horses, one plow and a spinning wheel while one-third of the families probably had acquired looms. (63) Weaving was less widespread, but even isolated poor women accepted the spinning wheel as the means for making their families clothing. (64) Spinning had been learned by at least one member of 85 percent of fullblood households, while weaving had been adopted by three-fifths of fullblood households. (65) Because women increased their textiles production, cotton was "universally raised for domestic consumption" while sheep were tripled between 1809-1828 to supply needed wool (see Table 1). (66)
However, whites overstated the extent to which women had acquiesced to the white civilization program. Historically, Cherokee women had woven intricate blankets, mats, and carpets from reeds and barks found in the indigenous canebrakes; and they had made their families' clothing from animal hides and pelts. Some Cherokee women had been introduced to spinning wheels and looms during the colonial era. Nearly twenty years before initiation of the "civilization program," many females had begun to raise European flax, cotton, and sheep as substitutes for the natural materials that were endangered in their mountain ecosystem. (67) Thus, cotton growing, sheep raising, weaving, and spinning were ecological accommodations that permitted women to preserve more crucial cultural elements of household production and informal exchange. While most Cherokee women did use spinning wheels and looms, they were not so receptive toward other white domestic arts. Many wives continued to weave elaborate baskets rather than purchase manufactured containers. (68) Elite households switched to the use of imported dishes, but the majority of women continued to produce traditional pottery. (69)
In terms of politics of lifestyle, Cherokee women were deeply polarized. In the minds of rich white gentlemen, "decent ladies" supervised others who produced items to be used by their families; and they never worked outside their homes. (70) Since elite mestizo husbands mirrored the values of Southern white domesticity, their wives did not spin or weave. (71) Instead, wealthier women either purchased their families' clothing; or they managed within their households the slaves or paid whites who produced textiles. There was a close linkage between textiles production and the preservation of matrilineal clans. Traditionally, women manufactured domestic crafts in their female kinship groups; therefore, elite women broke the essential bond of regular interaction with their clan relatives. Like wealthy white slaveholders, Cherokee elite women spent more time managing their complex households; so they interacted less often with nonslaveholding Cherokee women than they did with their female African-American slaves. (72)
By 1820, Cherokee elites presented to whites the image that the population was so "dispersed over the face of the Country on separate farms" that villages and communal farming no longer existed. According to one chief, "local laws to govern the labour of the citizens who acted in concert in cultivating their patches have disappeared long since." (73) Despite the glowing accounts of Cherokee progress that appeared in print, "missionaries and the Cherokee Phoenix misrepresented the degree of acculturation in the Cherokee Nation before Removal." (74) The "civilization program" was handicapped by a fundamental problem. Cherokee women were expected to abandon several types of "men's work" that white elites did not consider respectable duties for wives. (75) Gender boundaries had been blurred when precapitalist Cherokee villages engaged in farming, fishing, or annual hunts. (76) Men and women alike formed the gadugi, a labor gang that tended the fields and garden lots of elderly or infirm members of the village. (77)
At the same time that Cherokee women took on new domestic duties, they continued their historical participation in five forms of gender-integrated work: farming, fishing, hunting, livestock raising, and the gadugi. (78) By the 1820s, "the hardest portion of manual labor" was performed by male farmers; however, women continued to work in the fields "more by choice & necessity than anything else." (79) Most families continued to supplement their crops with subsistence hunting and fishing; and women continued their auxiliary roles in these gender-integrated activities. (80) Women continued to work alongside men in communal work gangs that assisted the elderly and infirm. By 1819, some women participated in transformed gadugi that functioned as cooperatives of twelve per gang who hired out their services to whites for cash wages. (81)
In the eighteenth-century, women farmed small patches near their dwellings; and post-Revolutionary wives continued this practice. (82) The vast majority of Cherokees lived in small dwellings that were close adaptations of pre-Revolutionary structures. (83) An 1837 account provides us a rare look at a typical Cherokee home. Travelling along the Coosa River in the Chattooga District of a northern Alabama (see Figure 1), a western North Carolina planter spotted several clusters of Cherokee homes.
The Brainerd missionaries reported some Georgia families that fared slightly better, living in dwellings with "wooden chimney[s]" and "floor[s] of puncheons." However, the majority of Cherokee houses "ha[d] scarcely any furniture." Adjacent to her small dwelling, the wife always cultivated "a small patch of cleared ground, an acre, or less, planted with corn and beans." (85) In 1802, the Indian agent reported that cotton was raised solely by women; and in 1830, women were still producing most of the cotton, except that grown by a few elites. (86) In the 1820s, the Indian agent was concerned because women were still very actively engaging in agricultural labor in the fields. (87) Chief Charles Hicks provides us an 1822 clue that women were still playing a central role in agriculture. Cherokee farms "might raise plentiful crops of corn," he claimed, "were they to get into the habit" of removing one or two of the plants from each hill. (88) Historically, women had cultivated their corn fields by planting beans, squash, or gourds in the hills with corn seed. (89) In addition to crop cultivation, women also raised livestock. (90)
New Gender Equality in Field Work
Because two-thirds of Cherokee families produced market surpluses (see Table 3), the restructuring of gender roles in field work impacted more Cherokee households than any other cultural transformation. In 1790, some Cherokee villages still farmed communally "in one vast field together." (91) In earlier eras, males had worked in the fields only during the most arduous phases of agriculture; they cleared new ground, felled trees, laid out rows, and sometimes assisted with large harvests. (92) By 1800, most Cherokee families had shifted to separate corn parcels; and men had been more fully integrated into field work. (93) Gender roles had shifted so that women and men were working the crops together from planting to harvest. (94) Even within fullblood North Carolina families, "the men labor[ed] in the fields" on a consistent basis throughout the cultivation process. (95) Because hoes and mattocks improved communal farming, females and males adopted those tools quickly. Ploughs represented a move toward individualized labor, and they entailed expensive horse shoeing by white blacksmiths. Consequently, the Cherokees accepted them much more slowly. (96)
The missionaries were convinced that the "ancient custom" of gender-integrated communal farming was "nearly done away" except among fullbloods and "those in the mountains." However, most women "cl[u]ng to their old customs as much as possible," including the blending of both sexes in several productive tasks. While they promulgated to whites an image of Cherokee acculturation, the missionaries comprehended that the small minority of mestizo families were in the vanguard of social change. (97) What they did not admit to the world was that less than 17 percent of Cherokees were of mixed ethnicity so that culturally-conservative fullbloods comprised a majority of the Cherokee population. (98) Clearly, the government and the missionaries were not successful in bringing about the total shift in occupational or gender roles central to their conception of "civilized" existence. (99) Only a tiny minority of Cherokee women who lived in well-to-do households could afford the luxury of house-bound domesticity.
In 1830, the Indian agent observed that among "the great mass of the fullblood Indians, the improvement, if progressing at all, [wa]s so slow that it [wa]s scarcely perceptible." (100) By 1835, fewer than one-quarter of Cherokee families were undergoing or had made the transition to agrarian capitalism (see Table 3). Only a small minority of slaveholding families had made a complete transition to agrarian capitalism. Less than 7 percent of the Cherokee households applied slave labor to produce large surpluses for export to distant markets. These wealthy mestizo slaveholders generated nearly two-fifths of the Nation's entire grain and livestock production on landholdings that were three times larger than the typical Cherokee farm. However, the vast majority of Cherokee households had been only minimally touched by agrarian capitalism. More than 90 percent of Cherokee families cultivated less than fifteen acres. Three-fifths of Cherokee families produced about one-third more than they needed for survival while another one-third produced no surpluses at all. This subsistent third comprised the most impoverished and the least acculturated households; and there were many more of these families than there were educated, acculturated mestizos. For example, there were 750 "verry Poor" families in northwestern Georgia who cultivated only four to five acres each. "Their principal dependence for Support [wa]s from what Ground They Cultivate[d] in Corn, pumpkins, potatoes & beans." (101)
Clearly, the vast majority of Cherokee families had not accepted agrarian capitalism to the same degree as adjacent whites. The typical Appalachian farm household produced three times more grains and livestock than it needed for survival while most Cherokees were farming at or slightly above subsistence levels. While most white Appalachians consumed less than one-quarter of their annual grain and livestock production, more than 90 percent of Cherokee households absorbed two-thirds or more of their corn, cattle, and hogs. (102) Missionaries recognized that there was "a very great difference" between the small acculturated "highest class" and the majority of "lowest class" Cherokees. (103) Only a tiny minority of Cherokees were commercial farmers, but that acculturated gentry stigmatized the majority of their own people with the same degree of racism that characterized the thinking of prosperous Southern whites. Cherokee agrarian capitalists agreed with whites that it was "the backward lower class" (those families who comprised the majority) who were "holding back the nation's progress." (104) Like the missionaries, well-to-do Cherokees believed that the "unenlightened parts" of the Nation needed to be "cured from their idleness" which was "deeply engrained in their nature." (105)
In reality, the vast majority of Cherokee families continued to farm at levels far below the outputs that characterized the tiny elite minority. The Nation's agrarian capitalists averaged 8 times more corn and 9 times more cattle and hogs than nine-tenths of Cherokee households. In those acculturated households, women embraced the white "cult of domesticity" and shaped their lives around household management. (106) However, culturally-conservative fullbloods comprised a majority of the Cherokee population; so the vast majority of Cherokee women lived in more traditional households where it was necessary for them to continue their participation in communal efforts that were considered "men's work." In reality, then, most Cherokee women kept their households oriented toward the same production goals they had set historically. Women had traditionally generated household subsistence, plus small surpluses for market exchanges. (107) Thus, most wives continued their customary organization of and/or assistance with planting and harvest, even after males were more fully integrated into field work. (108) In addition, most wives continued to control certain agricultural roles, including family garden patches and the production of all livestock except horses and cattle. (109)
In the communal Cherokee way of life, she who controlled essential resources garnered power. Because farming and child rearing were primarily their responsibility, precapitalist women controlled households and village lands. (110) However, agrarian capitalism necessitated a major restructuring of labor mechanisms and of ownership of the means of production. (111) Thus, Cherokee leaders committed themselves to an agenda in which the outward trappings of communal family life and property holding would be extinguished. (112) Individualized farming went hand-in-hand with the cultural stereotype of the husband as producer and protector while the wife managed home and children. Agrarian capitalism left little place for the historical role of the wife's clan as her ultimate source of security. (113) Between 1808 and 1825, elite leaders attempted to break the power of matrilineal clans and of women by instituting a series of laws transforming marriage, property rights, family lineage, and the political rights of women. Several national laws were intended to entrench male dominance and patrilineal descent, including the elimination of matrilineal control over lands. (114)
Between 1808 and 1825, the National Council instituted a series of laws that circumscribed women's control over Cherokee lands. (115) On the one hand, the National Council intended the shift away from matrifocal family structure to symbolize to whites that Cherokee women had become "civilized" and "submissive," like their white counterparts. (116) On the other hand, the struggle to end matrilineal property-holding derived from Cherokee elite demands for types of land tenure that facilitated wealth accumulation. (117)
Contrary to that elite agenda, missionaries acknowledged that each of the seven matrilineal clans "ha[d] its separate portion of land, which [wa]s held in common." However, political deliberations were centralized in the hands of elite males, women's official sphere of influence contracted, and women's voices had virtually disappeared from deliberations about land cessions to the U.S. Government. (118) Consequently, Georgia women circulated a petition in 1817 to lodge their protest "against an exchange of country." (119) Supported by elderly Beloved Woman Nancy Ward, they urged the men of the Amvoey Council to "keep [thei]r hands off of paper talks" and "not to part with any more of [Cherokee] lands." (120) During that same year, the women were instrumental in organizing town opposition to National Council negotiations with the U.S. Government. Fifty-four towns and villages convened outside the sanction of the National Council "to deliberate and consider the situation of our nation, in the disposition of our common property of lands." (121)
The women continued their resistance against male transfer of Cherokee lands to whites by presenting a second petition to the Ustanali council the next year. That males dominated such matters is clear from the apologetic tone of the women. "Take pity and listen to the talks of your sisters," they began. We have raised all of you on the land which we now have. . . . we know that our country has once been extensive but by repeated sales has become circumscribed to a small tract. . . never have [we] thought it our duty to interfere in the disposition of it till now. . . . Your mothers and your sisters ask and beg of you not to part with any more of our lands, we say ours [for] you are our descendants. . . . Therefore children dont part with any more of our lands but continue on it. . . . Hold out to the last in support of our common rights. (122)
Two years later, the National Council enacted two provisions that met these demands of the women. White husbands were no longer permitted to sell the lands of their Cherokee wives, and it was now treasonous for any individual to negotiate sale of Cherokee lands without approval of the National Council. (123) After 1820, women maintained their interest in protecting communal lands. When they organized popular resistance against the missionaries in the 1820s, land was one of the ideological concerns. When the denominations desired to open missions or schools, they approached the National Council for additional land allotments. Moreover, the missionaries frequently speculated in their public addresses and writings about the federal removal of the Cherokees west. (124) Little wonder that women circulated "false tales of almost every description.. . against missionary operations." As missions expanded, women became convinced that "the missionaries [we]re about to take large tracts of land as pay for teaching the children." (125) The matrilineal clans also reacted to a published "estimate of mission property at Brainerd, including improvements of land, to a considerable amount." A member of the National Council reported to the missionaries that women and their elected town chiefs had shaped public opinion around the idea that "these missionaries would claim the land for themselves." Subsequently, the missionaries were required to make annual reports and to obtain approval for enlargements of their staffs; and requests for mission expansions were more frequently rejected by the National Council. (126)
Women's Resistance to Cultural Change
The missionaries "fix[ed] their marks entirely beyond the reach of all the common Indians" to cater to the more well-to-do mestizo elite families. (127) In order to bring the Cherokees "to the habits and manners of civilized life," they made it their goal to rescue "the savages from the filth of the smoky hut, from the naked and untamed state of the heathen, and from the idols of the pagan world." (128) Consequently, the missionaries advocated training away from parents as "the best & perhaps the only way to civilize and Christianize" young Indians. (129) Because the white denominations thought Cherokee "Language, Customs, Manner of Thinking, etc. should be forgotten," their mission churches and schools set strict rules against attendance at traditional feasts or dances, divorce in the Cherokee manner; doctoring "after the wild Indian manner;" and "heathen" dress. (130) After baptism, students and church members were expected to take white names. (131) The schools sought to cleanse their students of every aspect of "savage life," including requiring them to practice "the etiquette of the table." (132) Thus, girls were trained for only two vocations: farmer's wife or teacher of "poor children who c[ould] not come to the Missionaries schools." (133)
"The best informed and more intelligent Cherokees" may have been "very favorably disposed" toward the schools, as the missionaries claimed. (134) However, most Cherokee women were "extremely jealous of their customs;" and they resisted such white and mestizo pressures for cultural change. They mounted aggressive and continuous opposition to the missionaries and schools that attacked directly the traditions that had "descended down to them from their ancestors from time immemorial." (135) Cherokee women maintained control over the cultural education of their children. Even though student enrollments doubled between 1809 and 1828, only 3.2 percent of Cherokee children were attending mission boarding schools in 1828. (136)
Missionary rules about dress and "etiquette at table" were a direct affront upon the daily lives of most Cherokee women. "At their own houses," a majority of Cherokee women "dressed themselves in Indian style" and raised their families in rooms with "scarcely any furniture." Their dishes were "made by themselves of clay." The missionaries complained that mothers "indulge[d] their children" too much when they complained about school rules. (137) "It is very painful to us," wrote a Moravian missionary, "that the children are taken from us often when they are just beginning" to be acculturated. In violation of school rules, mothers (most mestizo) often appeared to take their children to forbidden ceremonies. Children also ran away frequently to attend forbidden ceremonies. The two playgrounds near the Brainerd Mission enticed students into the "evil of ballplay," so "the welfare of the school" required extreme punishment or expulsion of transgressors. (138) The children themselves engaged in civil disobedience when missionaries violated Cherokee customs, especially those associated with the Green Corn Ceremony. (139)
Cherokee women were insulted by the gender-segregated duties proselytized by the missionaries. Because of the continuing need for family laborers in subsistence agriculture (see Table 3), few Cherokee women sent their children to the missionary schools. Consequently, elite families were vastly over-represented in schools where missionaries were teaching daughters that their proper role was a limited range of domestic arts. Mothers socialized their children to ignore the white cultural assumptions that manual labor was inappropriate for females. At missionary schools, boys vociferously expressed "an indisposition to labor in the field" because "the females were entirely exempted from the task." Young girls mirrored the resistance of their mothers by running away from schools where teachers indoctrinated them with the message that they must not continue the "uncivilized" work in which their mothers engaged. (140)
Moreover, students must learn English to survive at the mission schools. However, mothers and children resented the language shift, so the missionaries were successful at teaching the second language to only about one-third of their students. (141) Difficulty with English was the primary reason that children ran away from schools. (142) Missionaries complained that "five years [wa]s as short a period as a full Indian ten years old would take to acquire an English education that would be of benefit." (143) Only a small minority of the Nation's population was literate in English; but more than half the adults read Cherokee. (144) By 1825, Sequoyah's new Cherokee syllabary was "spreading through the nation like fire among the leaves." (145) Through "only a few hours of instruction," women taught many children, young adults, and elderly to read and write Cherokee so that, by 1828, "one-half of all the Cherokees c[ould] read in the new character." (146)
However, there was an even more significant reason for their resistance. Missionaries pressured young women toward monogamous marriage and patrilineal families in which wives no longer kept traditional control over marriage, childrearing, or divorce. Since the early 1800s, missionaries had demanded family restructuring "in favor of the issue of the father;" they had pressured Cherokee leaders to mandate Christian marriages; and they had preached against the "procuring of abortions." Because of their ethnocentric views about Cherokee sexual promiscuity, the missionaries created gender-segregated schools that interfered with the traditional right of young women to dominate mate selection and courtship. (147) Boys and girls were educated in separate buildings; and a strict segregation of sexes was maintained in an effort to prevent the kind of "freedom" of interaction between the sexes that had characterized their "savage" lives. Little wonder that mothers sent two to three boys to every girl to attend the schools! Traditional mothers kept their daughters at home in order to socialize them in the matrilineal rights of women. Even mestizo mothers frequently removed their daughters from school when missionaries began to proselytize white marriage and courtship customs. (148)
Cherokee women played pivotal roles in the preservation of Cherokee traditions and customs in a second way. They were activists in two major resistance movements aimed at cultural revitalization: the 1811-1813 religious revival and the anti-mission movement of the 1820s. Widespread participation in the cultural revitalization movement of 1811-1813 began with a vision calling for a return to the production of corn by women's traditional methods. (149) Cherokees should return to the use of Indian maize instead of the "corn of the white people." The men should "do away with mills," so women could "pound" the corn in the old way. "The Mother of the Nation ha[d] forsaken [the people] because all her bones [we]re being broken through the grinding." (150)
Selu (goddess of corn) and Mother of the Nation "was calling them back to a simpler form of agricultural life" when women engaged in communal farming and the production of most of the subsistence needs of families. Perhaps she was also warning them that the male-dominated market economy would destroy Cherokee customs and traditions. Moreover, the revitalization movement did not call for a return to the male-dominated fur trade. Rather Cherokees were admonished to return to subsistence farming and herding, economic activities that women had previously dominated. (151) The movement restored annual observance of the Green Corn Ceremony and conjuring of illnesses with traditional herbs and rituals, gender-integrated activities in which women participated equitably with men. The revitalization vision did not call for the reclamation of lost male-dominated hunting grounds, but it did entreat Cherokees to recover from whites the land where their sacred "mother towns" lay. Thus, the appeal was for a return to the cultural and political traditions that characterized life in towns where matrilineal clans and women had played active roles in community decision-making. (152)
Women played central roles in this assertion of Cherokee nationalism and cultural autonomy. Female prophets and conjurors frequently presented visions and predictions of disasters or crises. Two of the three people who received and spread the first vision were women. A young woman made a trip to the Indian Agency to warn agent Meigs that the Cherokees "ought to throw away the habits of white people and return to the ancient manners." An old woman named Laughing Molly accurately predicted the earthquakes that rocked the Nation during the movement. Women accosted and warned more acculturated females to return to traditional dress. Subsequently, the Indian agent reported that "some of the females [we]re mutilating fine muslin dresses." Women also objected to Cherokee adoption of white dances and music to replace traditional feasts and entertainment, so they would appear at the homes of "disrespectful" families to tell them "they must discontinue dancing reels and country dances which ha[d] become common amongst the young people." (153)
Between 1810-1827, the National Council passed 97 laws that were intended to erode old traditions and to push Cherokees toward Christianity and agrarian capitalism. After 1820, women's cultural resistance was heightened by the enactment of national laws that eroded the traditional rights of matrilineal clans and wives. Since women credited missionaries for influencing mestizo leaders to implement such regulations, anti-mission sentiment fueled a second revitalization movement between 1820-1828. (154) The polarization between the majority of Cherokees and national leadership widened during this period. Cherokees joined churches at only half the rate of area whites so that only 8 percent of them belonged to the missions in 1838. However, more than one-fifth of the newly-elected National Council were Christians in 1828. (155)
Increasingly after 1819, the missionaries openly attacked Cherokee customs as "evil." Between 1844 and 1848, two-fifths of the converts near the town of Etowah "ha[d] been excluded from membership" for returning to Cherokee traditions like the Green Corn Ceremony and reliance on conjurors to treat illnesses. Because of their ethnocentric attacks on the Cherokee culture, missionary teachers "[we]re complained of very much by the young people. . . under their care for Education." Most Cherokee women resented the racism that teachers showed toward fullblood students, and they were opposed to the indenturement of their sons to whites. After the introduction of Sequoyah's syllabary, mothers could teach their children to read and write at home. "This, no doubt, more than anything else, operated against English schools," so school attendance dropped dramatically after 1824. (156) Increasingly after 1822, the matrilineal clans demanded the closure of missionary schools because teachers were attacking traditional customs and language. (157)
After 1822, the missionaries shifted their priority from teaching to "evangelical labors," so they expanded their itinerant preaching circuits into more sections of the Nation. In their camp meetings and church services, the missionaries intensified their public assaults on several traditional customs that were important to women's lives: conjuring, annual feasts and dances, and the hospitality ethic. The missionaries thought ballplay lewd because "a large proportion of the spectators were females" watching naked males. Dances and feasts were sinful because they were attended after dark "by wives without their husbands," a circumstance that permitted "deeds of darkness." The missionaries were even less understanding of the women's objections to the use of wine for communion, an alcoholic drink that displaced the ceremonial use of "the black physic" that had been traditionally brewed by women from holly leaves. (158)
Cherokee women had another powerful reason to organize popular resistance against the missionaries, for these white outsiders had influenced the National implementation of laws that outlawed women's controlling roles in marriage and the family and that ended the traditional reproductive rights of women (especially abortion). (159) Between 1822 and 1827, women organized public expressions of resistance at meetings and near the missions. The missionaries reported frequent incidents in which women and teenagers "on the outskirts of the congregation were inclined to make disturbances." As a nonviolent demonstration, a crowd of women and boys "assembled in plain sight of the Mission House;" the young males "stripped themselves entirely naked, and for a time played Ball." (160)
It was the Cherokee custom that "no matter how little you ha[d], still every one who [wa]s present must have a share." Thus, mission refusals to share food with Cherokee women and children who came to their doors and public preaching against the hospitality ethic incited organized resistance-- including threats and nonviolent demonstrations intended to shame the white preachers. Unlike the American Board missionaries, the Moravians softened their policy toward Cherokees who appeared at their doors and expected hospitality. The Cherokees were "not to be blamed for the problem of hospitality," the Moravians decided. "It [wa]s difficult to pull in the reins" because "one could harm the Mission." When the Brainerd Mission had determined in 1824 to stop feeding strangers, "all their members except 4 persons," two-thirds of whom were women, "turned to the Methodists." (161)
However, it may have been the missionary attacks on conjuring that generated from women the greatest animosity and the most frequent organized resistance. By the 1820s, half or more of the conjurers were women; and this professional skill provided them income, influence and standing in their communities. (162) Not all the women conjurors were non-Christian fullbloods. At Willstown, a missionary encountered a woman convert who "had been in the habit of doctoring in the Cherokee manner (which is conjuring)." The preacher probably did not comprehend the woman's confusion and disdain when he "told her it was very good for her to administer medicine to the sick, but it was not good to use the art of conjuring." (163) One ninety-year-old woman, who "had for years been a conjuress," presented herself for baptism, only to be rejected by the missionary because "she expressed unwillingness to renounce conjuring." (164)
The missionaries viewed Cherokee conjuring as "purely heathen," and their sermons on the topic generated more popular protest than any other "heathen evil" they addressed. Most Cherokees, including converts, "in all their wants applied only to their conjurors." Perhaps that was why preachers began to seek out conjurors for public confrontations about religion, the origins of the earth, rain-making, and healing. Male conjurors engaged in direct debates, one travelling "50 miles to urge the people to hold on in their old ways." Since public debating was not customary, women engaged in other forms of resistance. Women and their teenage children heckled meetings where preachers were explaining the evils of conjuring and rain-making. (165)
Reverend Daniel Butrick reported that his women members "were very much dissatisfied on account of the sermons [he] preached on conjuring, rain-making, etc." His assaults on "idleness, sabbath-breaking, and especially conjuring, and [his] determined public opposition to them, ha[d] excited" intense public feeling against him. During his sermons, women began to taunt him with remarks about his own ignorance of the healing arts. When Butrick decided "publicly to reprove and instruct" conjurors and members who consulted them, "the whole church" (three-quarters of them women) "forsook" him. (166) Because of their animosity toward missionary ethnocentrism, women conjurors played a prominent role in White Path's Rebellion during this same period. (167)
Women's Resistance to Disenfranchisement
Disenfranchised by the male-dominated mestizo National Council, women had few official avenues through which to protect matrilineal customs. (168) However, women's cultural resistance took one other important form; matrilineal clans kept towns alive as spiritual and political centers. Missionaries fostered the view among mestizos that "so long as the Indians lived together in towns, they always would remain lazy, careless, miserable, and poor folk." (169) The U.S. civilization program pressured Cherokees "to scatter from their towns and make individual improvements;" and most families probably did "disperse from their large towns-- buil[d] convenient houses-- clear and fence farms." (170) In the minds of Cherokee elites, traditional villages "ha[d] disappeared" by 1826; so town governance was replaced by eight district councils and a thirteen-member national committee. (171)
In addition to weakening women's control over family and land, the National Council severely narrowed the political participation that women had enjoyed in precapitalist villages. (172) Traditionally, each town was populated by members of seven matrilineal clans; and every individual Cherokee derived his or her political alignment from membership in one of the clans. "To be without a clan was to be without rights." (173) Although women could not hold office, they exercised authority over the clans. Married women of child-bearing age held a council that nominated candidates for chief and subchief of each clan. Each matrilineal clan chose a "Beloved Woman" as its leader; and these seven women formed the Women's Council, headed by the "War Woman." The Women's Council selected the candidate for town chief, and their nominations were usually approved by the male-dominated town council. Thus, matrilineal clans played a key role in traditional town politics; and a seven-member advisory council represented all the divergent interests. (174)
There is little evidence that women continued such political participation in centralized governance after 1794. (175) Matrilineal clans were no longer equitably represented in national affairs. (176) Since 1817, the Women's Council had been disbanded, eliminating female voices from national decision-making. (177) Moreover, individual women could neither vote nor hold office in the national structure. (178) For Cherokee women in interracial marriages, communal life, the clan system, and the extended family had faded by the early 1820s; and those households were moving steadily toward the nuclear family pattern and the life found in surrounding white settlements. (179) However, the majority of Cherokee women in traditional households were not nearly so acculturated. Though dispersed throughout the countryside, many women continued to live in small extended-family clusters that protected their rights within matrilineal clans. (180)
Women may have been disenfranchised at the national level, but there is considerable archival evidence that women kept clans and towns alive as origination points for grassroots resistance, thereby diminishing the control of the National Council over the majority of families. In 1822, one-third or more of the population "continue[d] to live in towns" because most Cherokees regarded towns not as places, but as groups of people sharing ceremonial and council centers. (181) When there was a "shortness of crops" or when whites encroached on their dispersed farms, Cherokees migrated back to nearby towns for assistance. (182) During the five years following the creation of the National Council, missionaries documented their attendance at several town council meetings. Some resistant Cherokees conducted community business in secret. In a northwest Georgia town, "the council hall was partly underground." Trusted visitors were conducted "through a dark labyrinth with sepulchral surroundings into the august presence of the chiefs, who sat in solemn silence, and arrayed in costume." (183)
Despite the dispersal of households onto farmsteads, extended family networks still protected women and their clan status within towns. (184) These local communities also preserved elements of the precapitalist political participation of women, as the details of one 1822 town meeting demonstrate. When two Brainerd missionaries sought permission to open a school and to hold services, the Turkeytown chief told them he "would lay the subject" before the town's council of seven clan chiefs. During these deliberations, the chief's wife interacted freely. On the second day, the clan chiefs assembled and voted to call a full town meeting. On the third day, the missionaries accompanied the chief to the council house where they "found perhaps a hundred sons and daughters of the forest." In traditional fashion, the chief and the whites sat in the center, next to them "in proper order, all the honorable of the town." As custom demanded, the chief spoke briefly, asking the group to listen to the talk of the missionaries. After their speech, the visitors were expected "in token of friendship, to shake hands with all the people," who then passed before them in order of their status in the town. Finally, the chief "exhort[ed] all to attend to what they had heard;" and the meeting closed without any vote in the presence of the white outsiders. One year before removal, missionaries were still reporting such meetings in numerous town council houses. (185)
After 1820, the National Council passed several that increasingly encroached on the authority of local chiefs who were elected by matrilineal clans to manage town affairs. Moreover, the mestizo elites dominated national affairs because there were few traditional Cherokees among the elected representatives. (186) Throughout the 1820s, Cherokees increasingly identified missionaries as a threat to town authority. The centralized government made decisions about missions, so towns could not restrict their activities. In 1823, Pathkiller "spoke with approbation of the laws, which the young chiefs [we]re introducing, so differently from their former customs." (187) When the National Committee refused to remove missionaries from their region in 1824, the Etowah Cherokees boycotted the school because the missionaries were "trying to doe away" with their "common custom of meeting" in their townhouse. (188) In 1825, missionaries labelled the town council house at Taloney "the Devil's meetinghouse," inflaming a convert and his friends to burn the building. The missionary reported that "the wicked [we]re very much enraged and threaten[ing] to harm [thei]r School House" in retaliation. (189)
Six previous years of anti-mission resistance by Cherokee women laid the cultural groundwork for a widespread popular call for a return to traditional town decision-making. "Perhaps the majority of people [we]re dissatisfied" with the barrage of laws that had been implemented during the 1820s, so opposition to constitutional government culminated in White Path's Rebellion of 1827-1828. Women's cultural resistance, especially that of women conjurors and their followers, fuelled this "assertion of national pride against white arrogance." The goal of the revitalization movement "was to achieve tolerance toward and self-respect for the majority who still adhered to the religion and traditions of their culture." One worried missionary reported that "there is now existing in this nation a most fearful division among the Cherokee. The full Cherokees have risen up against the laws of the Nation and appear to desire their old form of government." (190)
After the Revolutionary War, the Cherokees were forced to adapt new survival strategies in a world-economy where whites were competing for their lands, their natural resources were endangered, and their trade commodities were redundant. Agrarian capitalism necessitated a major restructuring of gender-integrated labor mechanisms and of matrilineal ownership of the means of production. Therefore, Cherokee leaders committed themselves to an assimilation agenda in which the outward trappings of communal family life and matrilineal property holding would be extinguished. As the Cherokee Nation became increasingly linked into the regional capitalist economy, mestizo elites shifted control of households, land, and the means of production to men; implemented public policies to disempower women; and embraced the capitalist "cult of domesticity" to rationalize the inequitable treatment of wives.
However, white change agents and Cherokee nationalists were not successful in bringing about the total shift in gender roles central to their conception of "civilized" existence. Only a tiny segment of Cherokee women lived in households that made the transition to agrarian capitalism. The vast majority resisted patrilineage and the white cult of domesticity in five important ways. First, three-quarters of Cherokee women were fullbloods who made only those ecological and economic accommodations that were compatible with the preservation of matrilineal traditions. Second, most wives continued their historical participation in four forms of "men's work": farming, fishing, hunting, livestock raising, and the gender-integrated gadugi. Third, many women continued to live in small camps of extended families where their rights within matrilineal clans were preserved. Fourth, women kept clans, towns, and local decision-making alive, thereby ameliorating the impacts of capitalist acculturation upon a majority of families. Finally, women organized resistance against the missionaries and their schools in order to maintain control over the cultural socialization of their children and in order to protect traditional matrilineal customs. Women played pivotal roles in two cultural revitalization movements, the 1811-1813 religious revival and the 1820s opposition to assimilation that culminated in White Path's Rebellion.
In the 1820s, the Cherokee delegation predicted to President Adams that "the day would arrive when a distinction between their race and the American family would be imperceptible." The people had "no objection" to such acculturation, they claimed. (191) The majority of Cherokee women did not see the future as did their national leaders. The most dramatic evidence of resistance is that women still headed a majority of eastern Cherokee households in 1860. (192) In those families, precapitalist gender customs had eroded, no doubt; but women had managed to hold their own against the onslaught of patrilineage. As late as 1827, missionaries were still documenting that Cherokee "children belong[ed] to the clan of the mother without any respect to the father." (193) In pre-Removal western North Carolina, matrilineal clans and women retained control over houses, fields, livestock, and children. (194) Despite outward appearances of centralized governance, matrilineal clans did not die, as evidenced by their resurgence soon after relocation to Oklahoma. (195) Many Cherokees were still practicing matrilineal marriage, lineage, and divorce customs in the 1900s; and the gender-integrated gadugi survived until 1910. (196) Until the 1930s, eastern Cherokee women were still the economic centers of households, owned family land, and engaged in traditional agricultural and gathering practices. (197) In fact, the matrilineal kinship structure was still partially in existence among eastern Cherokees as late as the 1950s. (198)
1.. Immanuel Wallerstein, The Modern World-System III: The Second Era of Great Expansion of the Capitalist World-Economy, 1730-1840s (New York: Academic Press, 1989), 76-78; Wilma A. Dunaway, The First American Frontier: Transition to Capitalism in Southern Appalachia, 1700-1860 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1996).
2. William G. McLoughlin, Cherokee Renascence in the New Republic (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1986).
3. Charles Hudson, The Southeastern Indians (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1976), 449-51.
4. Immanuel Wallerstein, Historical Capitalism (London: Verso Editions, 1983), 39-51.
5. Brainerd Journal, American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions Papers, Harvard University Library, 28 December 1821.
6. McLoughlin, Cherokee Renascence, 5-10.
7. Nancy Folbre, "The Unproductive Housewife: Her Evolution in Nineteenth-Century Economic Thought," Signs 16 (Fall 1991): 463-84.
8. James Mooney, Myths of the Cherokee (1900, reprint, Nashville, TN: Elder & Elder, 1982), 53-61. For south-central Tennessee Cherokees, the Revolutionary War actually continued until 1794 when the dissident Chickamaugans ended their guerilla resistance and made peace with white settlers; see James P. Pate, "The Chickamaugans: A Forgotten Segment of Indian Resistance on the Southern Frontier" (Ph.D. diss., Mississippi State University, 1969), 80-82. Between 1697 and 1783, there were at least five smallpox epidemics among the Cherokees; see Russell Thornton, The Cherokees: A Population History (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1990), 44-45.
9. Thomas Hatley, The Dividing Paths: Cherokees and South Carolinians through the Era of Revolution (New York: Oxford University Press, 1993), 163-66; Wilma A. Dunaway, "The Southern Fur Trade and the Incorporation of Southern Appalachia into the World-Economy, 1690-1763," Review of the Fernand Braudel Center 17 (Spring 1994): 215-42.
10. Records of the Cherokee Indian Agency: Tennessee, 1801-1835, Records of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, National Archives, Record Group 75: 21 June 1811, 17 February 1816.
11. Timothy Silver, A New Face on the Countryside: Indians, Colonists and Slaves in South Atlantic Forests, 1500-1800 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1990), 94.
12. William Bartram, Travels through North and South Carolina, Georgia, East and West Florida, the Cherokee Country (1792, reprint, Philadelphia: James and Johnson, 1940), 263-4.
13. Records of the Cherokee Indian Agency: 7 December 1801.
14. Bartram, Travels, 185-7, 283; James Adair, The History of the American Indians (1775, reprint, Johnson City, TN: Watauga Press, 1930), 388, 424.
15. Letters of Benjamin Hawkins, 1796-1806, ed. Stephen B. Weeks (Savannah: Georgia Historical Society, 1916), 338; Cherokee Phoenix, 20 March 1828.
16. Letters of Benjamin Hawkins, 20; Records of the Cherokee Indian Agency: 30 January 1810; American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions Papers, Harvard University Library, 10 October 1828 [hereafter called American Board Papers].
17. Brainerd Journal, 15 March 1830.
18. Appalachian trends from Dunaway, First American Frontier. Cherokee average from analysis of a systematic sample of 1,000 households drawn from the U.S. Census Roll, 1835, of the Cherokee Indians East of the Mississippi, Records of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, National Archives, Records Group 75.
19. American State Papers: Indian Affairs, ed. Walter Lowrie and Matthew S. Clarke (Washington, DC: Gales and Seaton, 1832), 2: 700.
20. Dunaway, First American Frontier.
21. E. Raymond Evans, "Highways to Progress: Nineteenth Century Roads in the Cherokee Nation," Journal of Cherokee Studies 2 (Fall 1977): 394-400. By 1809, the Cherokees had opened 300 miles of roads connecting them to trade hubs at Augusta, Georgia, Nashville, Tennessee and to Muscle Shoals, Alabama, facilitating direct river transport to New Orleans; see Records of the Cherokee Indian Agency: 1 December 1809.
22. Grain and livestock production derived from the Cherokee Phoenix, 1 June 1828 and U.S. Census Roll, 1835 of the Cherokee Indians. To calculate surpluses, cliometric techniques were applied to estimate local consumption, seed reserves, grain waste, and herd replacements; these uses were then subtracted from total production. For methods, see Dunaway, First American Frontier, 329-31. In 1835, the Cherokees had available for export these surpluses: 260,975 bushels corn; 14,114 cattle; 9,573 hogs; and 1,747 sheep.
23. Appalachian trends from Dunaway, First American Frontier, 218-21. Regarding Cherokee livestock, see Brad A. Bays, "The Historical Geography of Cattle Herding among the Cherokee Indians, 1761-1861" (M.S. thesis, University of Tennessee, 1991).
24. For methods, see Note 18 and Note 22.
25. Cherokee Phoenix, 23 October 1820, 27 August 1831.
26. William G. McLoughlin and Walter H. Conser, "The Cherokees in Transition: A Statistical Analysis of the Federal Cherokee Census of 1835," Journal of American History 64 (Fall 1977): 681.
27. U.S. Census Roll, 1835; for methods see Note 18.
28. E. Raymond Evans, "Jedediah Morse's Report to the Secretary of War on Cherokee Indian Affairs in 1822," Journal of Cherokee Studies 6 (Winter 1981): 69.
29. Thomas Hatley, "The Three Lives of Keowee: Loss and Recovery in Eighteenth-Century Cherokee Villages," in Powhatan's Mantle: Indians in the Colonial Southeast, ed. Peter H. Wood, G.A. Waselkow, and M.H. Hatley (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1989), 232-35.
30. Adair, History of American Indians, 406-7.
31. John Howard Payne Papers, Newberry Library, Chicago, 8: 114.
32. Wallerstein, Modern World-System III, 76.
33. Evans, "Jedediah Morse's Report," 69.
34. Throughout the antebellum period, horses and cattle were much more profitable than corn; see Wallerstein, Modern World-System III, 181-82.
35. Records of the Cherokee Indian Agency: 7 December 1801.
36. About 1740, the British constructed a trading path to Augusta that would accommodate Cherokee horses; see Mooney, Myths, 213. Clearly, some Cherokees raised cattle during the Colonial period. The Spanish introduced cattle breeds into the Appalachians in the early 1700s, so the Cherokee term for cow is linguistically Spanish; see Mooney, Myths, 213-14. As late as the 1830s, the Cherokees were still raising cattle "of the Spanish breed" which "universally had long horns;" see Slavery in the U.S.: A Narrative of the Life and Adventures of Charles Ball, a Black Man (1837, reprint, Philadelphia: Negro Universities Press, 1969), 358-59. Cherokees must have been producing sizeable cattle herds by the mid-1700s, for Nancy Ward sold surplus beef to the U.S. Army during the Revolutionary War; see Norma Tucker, "Nancy Ward, Ghighau of the Cherokees," Georgia Historical Quarterly 53 (Spring 1969): 195-96.
37. Chief Charles Hicks reported in 1822 that 90 percent of the families raised horses and cattle while no household was "without a stock of hogs;" see Evans, "Jedediah Morse's Report," 69. There were 1.5 cattle per person in 1809, and the importance of livestock raising was reflected in the laws; see Bays, "Historical Geography," 113-24.
38. Records of the Cherokee Indian Agency: 13 February 1805.
39. Terence K. Hopkins and Immanuel Wallerstein, "Capitalism and the Incorporation of New Zones into the World-Economy," Review of the Fernand Braudel Center 10 (Fall 1987): 763-80.
40. Bays, "Historical Geography," 131-34.
41. Bartram, Travels, 326; Early Travels in the Tennessee Country, 1540-1800, ed. Samuel C. Williams (Johnson City: Watauga Press, 1928), 261.
42. American State Papers, Indian Affairs, 2: 651-52.
43. U.S. Census Roll, 1835; for methods, see Note 22.
44. Early Travels, 263; Theda Perdue, "Southern Indians and the Cult of True Womanhood," in The Web of Southern Social Relations: Women, Family, and Education, ed. W.J. Fraser, R.F. Saunders and J.L. Wakelyn (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1985), 47.
45. Hatley, "Three Lives of Keowee," 225-30.
46. Adair, History of American Indians, 388, 424.
47. Numerous 1828-1838 entries for Cherokees in North Carolina store account books in William Holland Thomas Papers, Duke University Library; Aggie R. Lossiah, "The Story of My Life as Far Back as I Can Remember," Journal of Cherokee Studies 9 (Spring 1984): 87-90.
48. Sarah H. Hill, "Weaving History: Cherokee Baskets from the Springplace Mission," William and Mary Quarterly 53 (Spring 1996): 115-36.
49. George P. Rawick, comp., The American Slave: A Composite Autobiography (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1972), 13: 130.
50. Hill, "Weaving History," 129-30; Patrick H. Garrow, "The Historic Cabin Site: The Last Trace of the Cherokee Town of Coosawatte," Early Georgia 7 (Winter 1979): 19.
51. Dunaway, First American Frontier, 185-86.
52. Cherokee Mission Papers, 1820-1827, Moravian Archives, Winston-Salem, 19 January 1806; the cakes were made from a mix of sorghum molasses and maple syrup.
53. Records of the Cherokee Indian Agency: 13 February 1805.
54. Nancy Ward was highly influential because of her mother's family linkages with Old Hop and Attakullaculla and because two of her sons became chiefs. For those reasons, she was elected by the clans to head the Women's Council; and she was the last Beloved Woman of the eastern Cherokees. Her marriage to a British trader helped her to become one of the wealthiest Cherokee slaveholders and innkeepers. Ward's efforts to protect settlers from Cherokee attacks gained her prestige among whites. See Tucker, "Nancy Ward," 192-200.
55. Bays, "Historical Geography,"166-68; Cherokee Phoenix, 2 July 1828.
56. Rawick, American Slave, 13: 130.
57. Bays, "Historical Geography," 98-102, 114; Numerous 1828-1838 entries for Cherokees in North Carolina store account books in Thomas Papers; William Holland Thomas, Argument in Support of the Claims of the Cherokee Indians (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1839), 20-25.
58. U.S. Census Roll, 1835.
59. Tucker, "Nancy Ward," 197; Brainerd Journal, 29 May 1822.
60. Cherokee Phoenix, 2 July 1828.
61. Records of the Cherokee Indian Agency: 2 May 1817.
62. American Board Papers, 10 October 1828.
63. There were 2,495 households when the Cherokee Phoenix (1 June 1828) reported 2,792 plows; 7,628 horses; 2,428 spinning wheels; and 769 looms.
64. "At the foot of the Cumberland Mountains [missionaries] slept in a solitary hut, where [they] found a neat old woman, of 70 or 80 years of age, very busily engaged in spinning;" see Brainerd Journal, 2 June 1820.
65. McLoughlin and Conser, "Cherokees in Transition," 695.
66. "John Ridge on Cherokee Civilization in 1826," ed. William C. Sturtevant, Journal of Cherokee Studies 6 (Spring 1981): 81.
67. Mooney, Myths, 214; American State Papers, Indian Affairs, 1: 647, 39; Silver, A New Face, 120.
68. Hill, "Weaving History," 127.
69. Garrow, "Historic Cabin Site," 19.
70. Folbre, "Unproductive Housewife," 472-73.
71. McLoughlin, Cherokee Renascence, 330-31.
72. Elizabeth Fox-Genovese, Within the Plantation Household: Black and White Women of the Old South (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1988), 120-1, 178-85, 235; Hudson, Southeastern Indians, 267; Letters of Benjamin Hawkins, 219-21.
73. "John Ridge," 81.
74. Theda Perdue, "Rising from the Ashes: The Cherokee Phoenix as an Ethnohistorical Source," Ethnohistory 24 (Spring 1977): 211.
75. Folbre, "Unproductive Housewife," 460.
76. Adair, History of American Indians, 403-5.
77. F.G. Speck and C.E. Schaeffer, "The Mutual Aid Society and Volunteer Company of the Eastern Cherokees," Journal of the Washington Academy of Sciences 35 (Spring 1945): 169-79.
78. Letters of Benjamin Hawkins, 20-1.
79. "John Ridge," 81.
80. Brainerd Journal, 15 March 1830; Charles Lanman, Letters from the Allegheny Mountains (New York: G.B. Putnam, 1848), 90; Thomas, Argument, 17-19. Continuation of communal subsistence hunting is evidenced by the passage of an 1824 law to prohibit woods burning before the month of March. This law was designed to protect livestock foraging in the forests, so it was intended to ban communal winter hunts; see Laws of the Cherokee Nation Adopted by the Council at Various Periods (Tahlequah, OK: Cherokee Advocate's Office, 1852), 41.
81. Speck and Schaeffer, "Mutual Aid Society," 172.
82. Adair, History of American Indians, 406; Payne Papers, 6: 196.
83. An eastern Cherokee cabin photographed in the 1890s is a very close adaptation of the type of Cherokee dwelling depicted in eighteenth-century paintings; see Hudson, Southeastern Indians, 482 and William C. Sturtevant, "Louis-Phillipe on Cherokee Architecture and Clothing in 1797," Journal of Cherokee Studies 3 (Summer 1978): 198-205.
84. James Hervey Greenlee Diary, Southern Historical Collection, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, Folder 1, p. 3.
85. Brainerd Journal, 15 March 1830.
86. Return J. Meigs Journal, 1802, Records of the Cherokee Indian Agency: Tennessee, 1801-1835, Records of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, National Archives, Record Group 75; Brainerd Journal, 15 March 1830.
87. Letters of Benjamin Hawkins, 20-1.
88. Evans, "Jedediah Morse's Report," 69.
89. Adair, History of American Indians, 409-10.
90. Bays, "Historical Geography," 114-17.
91. Bartram, Travels, 325.
92. Hudson, Southeastern Indians, 268.
93. Early Travels, 261.
94. Bartram, Travels, 326.
95. Lanman, Letters, 17, 95.
96. Records of the Cherokee Indian Agency: 10 October 1802, 25 February 1804, 27 March 1804.
97. Brainerd Journal, 3 July 1822, 15 March 1830; Payne Papers, 6: 201-2.
98. McLoughlin and Conser, "Cherokees in Transition," 681.
99. Letters of Benjamin Hawkins, 20-1.
100. Letters Received by the Office of Indian Affairs, 1824-1881, Records of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, National Archives, Record Group 75: 4 March 1830.
101. Jacob Scudder to Georgia governor, 17 September 1831, WPA Typescript, Georgia State Archives, Atlanta.
102. Appalachian trends from Dunaway, First American Frontier, Ch. 5.
103. American Board Papers, 24 November 1824.
104. 27 February 1826, Payne Papers, 8: 110-111; American State Papers: Indian Affairs, 651-52.
105. Payne Papers, 8: 23; Cherokee Mission Papers, 21 August 1809. See editorial in Cherokee Phoenix, 2 July 1828.
106. McLoughlin, Cherokee Renascence, 260-61.
107. Hatley, "Three Lives of Keowee," 332-35.
108. In the 1840s, this gender equality in field work was still evident among eastern Cherokees who remained in western North Carolina; see Lanman, Letters, 17.
109. "John Ridge," 81; Brainerd Journal, 15 March 1830.
110. Theda Perdue, "The Traditional Status of Cherokee Women," Furman Studies 26 (Winter 1980): 20-21.
111. Wallerstein, Historical Capitalism, 38-40.
112. Letters Received by the Office of Indian Affairs: 12 March 1825.
113. Perdue, "Southern Indians, 36-38.
114. McLoughlin, Cherokee Renascence, 330-34.
115. Laws, 3-5, 45-46, 57.
116. American Board Papers, 10 October 1828; Folbre, "Unproductive Housewife," 481.
117. Laws 1852, 119; Rennard Strickland, Fire and the Spirits: Cherokee Law from Clan to Court (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1975), 94-95.
118. Brainerd Journal, 12 October 1817; McLoughlin, Cherokee Renascence, 330-34.
119. Brainerd Journal, 13 February 1817.
120. Records of the Office of the Secretary of War: Letters Received, 1801-1870, National Archives, Record Group 75: 6 May 1817. This petition was the last official act of the seventy-year-old Nancy Ward who sent her walking cane to the council because she was too ill to attend; see Tucker, "Nancy Ward," 197-98.
121. Laws, 4.
122. Records of the Office of the Secretary of War: 25 July 1818.
123. Evans, "Jedediah Morse's Report," 73; Mooney, Myths, 107.
124. William G. McLoughlin, Cherokees and Missionaries, 1789-1839 (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1984), 109-23; for a discussion of anti-mission sentiment, see 180-212.
125. Brainerd Journal, 11 February 1823, 2 August 1821; see also American Board Papers, 3 January 1822, 9 May 1822, 11 June 1823.
126. American Board Papers, 22 January 1823, 11 August 1824, 6 November 1824.
127. Ibid., 24 November 1824.
128. The Evangelical Intelligencer, 4 (1807): 41-42.
129. Brainerd Journal, 29 October 1819.
130. Cherokee Mission Papers, 23 July 1809; McLoughlin, Cherokees and Missionaries, 44.
131. Brainerd Journal, 14 October 1821; 21 May 1822; 3 August 1823. According to the 28 February 1823 entry, one child was renamed "Boston Recorder," after the church newspaper.
132. The Panoplist, 3 (1804): 85.
133. Payne Papers, 8:49.
134. Brainerd Journal, 29 May 1822.
135. Records of the Cherokee Indian Agency, 6 June 1806.
136. McLoughlin, Cherokee Renascence, 378-79. One student drew a sharp distinction between Cherokee families. Some "have large plantations and a great number of cattle," she wrote; but most "live miserably" and "don't send their children to school;" see Payne Papers, 8: 58. The Methodists did a better job of reaching these poorer Cherokees with their "itinerant schools" that were operated six months in a log cabin in the district of the students; the students were taught in Cherokee the basics of reading, writing, and arithmetic; see McLoughlin, Cherokees and Missionaries, 172.
137. Brainerd Journal, 15 March 1830, 5 July 1820; 11 June 1819; Payne Papers, 8: 23.
138. Cherokee Mission Papers, 28 December 1806, 22 April 1806, 26 August 1806, 30 July 1808, 26 August 1806, 9 October 1825; Brainerd Journal, 7 July 1820, 6 July 1822. A Moravian missionary recorded that student attendance at the Green Corn Dance "doesn't sit well with us, but we don't know how to prevent it;" see Cherokee Mission Papers, 6 August 1806.
139. When students were working the school fields, a missionary "brought them green beans before they had their dance. Several immediately remonstrated, accusing him of great wickedness. He labored in vain to convince them of their error. As he and one of his old neighbors sat down to eat, the others all refused to partake, and left the field;" see Brainerd Journal, 3 July 1822.
140. Ibid., 19 June 1818, 29 December 1820, 2 June 1820.; Payne Papers 8: 51, 1; American Board Papers, 25 November 1816.
141. McLoughlin, Cherokees and Missionaries, 140.
142. Baptist Mission Magazine, 3 (1822): 463.
143. Baptist Foreign Mission Board Papers, American Baptist Historical Society, Rochester, 27 March 1827 [hereafter called Baptist Mission Papers].
144. McLoughlin and Conser, "Cherokees in Transition," 693-94.
145. William Chamberlain Journal, American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions Papers, Harvard University Library, 25 January 1825.
146. Brainerd Journal, 15 March 1830; American Board Papers, 4 February 1828. Missionary Samuel A. Worcester observed that Cherokees "have but to learn their alphabet, and they can read at once;" see American Board Papers, 8 August 1824.
147. The missionaries mounted a continuous campaign to acculturate Cherokees in the white model of monogamous marriage and male domination of households; see American Board Papers, 21 August 1824, 3 August 1829, 17 October 1824, 11 August 1825, 29 September 1832. Payne Papers, 8: 34, 49. Evangelical Intelligencer, 1 (1805): 408. Springplace Diary of the Moravian Mission, Translated Typescript, Georgia Historical Commission, Atlanta, 19 October 1827.
148. Brainerd Journal, 22 March 1828, 28 February 1823. In one such instance, the missionary lamented: "We were very sorry to part with this child and have her taken back to the regions of darkness perhaps never to see the light;" see entry of 22 November 1818.
149. This resistance has been erroneously labelled a Ghost Dance Movement; see James Mooney, The Ghost Dance Religion (Washington, DC: Bureau of American Ethnology, 1982-93). For clarification, see William G. McLoughlin, "New Angles of Vision on the Cherokee Ghost Dance Movement," American Indian Quarterly 5 (November 1979), 317-46.
150. Springplace Diary, 11 February 1811.
151. McLoughlin, Cherokees and Missionaries, 86-87. For women's economic activities, see Hatley, "Three Lives of Keowee."
152. Springplace Diary, 17 February 1812, 11 February 1811; Perdue, "Traditional Status," 27-30. McLoughlin, Cherokees and Missionaries, 88-89.
153. Springplace Diary, 11 February 1811, 1 March 1812; Records of the Cherokee Indian Agency, 19 March 1812.
154. McLoughlin, Cherokees and Missionaries, 215-17, 180-238. This movement culminated in White Path's Rebellion, discussed below.
155. Ibid., 337; American Board Papers, 3 September 1828.
156. American Board Papers, 28 July 1828, 8 March 1822, 4 August 1824, 27 March 1826. Several laws expanded missionary control over Cherokee school children, including the right of the missions to indenture apprentices for seven to twelve years to adjacent white craftsmen; see Laws, 94; Brainerd Journal, 1 November 1820. "On the subject of apprentices to the blacksmith business, the chiefs gave it as their decided opinion that the boys should be bound to [the missionaries] for a certain time, and the chiefs should see that they were not taken away within that time;" see Brainerd Journal, 26 June 1820.
157. Cherokee Phoenix, 22 October 1828; Cherokee Mission Papers, 26 May 1824; McLoughlin, Cherokees and Missionaries, 180-90.
158. American Board Papers, 11 June 1823, 11 December 1827, 26 May 1824; McLoughlin, Cherokees and Missionaries, 196-97.
159. McLoughlin, Cherokee Renascence, 141, 331. An 1826 law prohibited abortion, ending women's traditional control over family size; see Laws 1852, 79. Also see Note 147.
160. American Board Papers, 13 September 1826, 5 June 1828, 11 December 1827.
161. Cherokee Mission Papers, 5 June 1827. American Board Papers, 26 April 1824, 20 June 1824, 20 August 1824, 18 September 1824, 24 October 1824, 25 April 1825; Chamberlain Journal, 30 July 1824; Daniel Butrick Journal, American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions Papers, Harvard University Library, 5 May 1825.
162. American Board Papers, 28 November 1828.
163. Chamberlain Journal, 29 June 1822.
164. Butrick Journal, 3 August 1829.
165. American Board Papers, 19 November 1818, 28 July 1827, 6 May 1828, 8 September 1830, 11 December 1827, 31 August 1821, 3 September 1824, 8 November 1824, 13 September 1826.. Butrick Journal, 8 September 1830. Baptist Mission Papers, 11 December 1830, 1 April 1828.
166. Butrick Journal, 6 May 1828, 28 November 1828, 8 September 1830, 28 July 1827.
167. Cherokee Mission Papers, 16 May 1827.
168. Laws, 120-21.
169. Kenneth G. Hamilton, trans. and ed., "Minutes of the Mission Conference Held in Springplace, 1819," Atlanta Historical Bulletin (Spring 1971): 32-33.
170. Payne Papers 9: 53; Brainerd Journal, 29 December 1818.
171. "John Ridge," 81; Laws, 14-18, 31-2.
172. McLoughlin, Cherokee Renascence, 224-6.
173. Perdue, "Traditional Status," 20-21.
174. Carolyn T. Foreman, Indian Women Chiefs (1954, reprint, Muskogee: Zenger Publishing, 1976), 7.
175. Two women accompanied the official delegation to the President in 1808, and women presented two petitions about land disposal to the National Council in 1817-1818. Other than these three examples, women do not appear in the official records of governance; see McLoughlin, Cherokee Renascence, 398.
176. Strickland, Fire and Spirits, 97.
177. To show her support for centralized government in 1817, Nancy Ward terminated the role of "Beloved Woman" and disbanded the Women's Council. See Records of the Office of the Secretary of War: 25 July 1818.
178. Laws, 120-1.
179. McLoughlin, Cherokee Renascence, 326-30.
180. In the Chattooga District (see Figure 1), there were a "great many Indian camps" along the Coosa River in 1837. Each "camp" consisted of several small cabins, surrounded by "some few acres cleared" and planted with corn, beans and squash; see Greenlee Diary, Folder 1, p. 3.
181. Evans, "Jedediah Morse's Report," 62; John P. Reid, A Law of Blood: The Primitive Law of the Cherokee Nation, (New York: New York University Press, 1970), 30-32.
182. Records of the Cherokee Indian Agency: 20 March 1817.
183. Brainerd Journal, 17 October 1817, 2 November 1818, 22 January 1822, 20 November 1817.
184. Greenlee Diary, Folder 1: 3; Payne Papers, 6: 295-8.
185. Brainerd Journal, 19-21 January 1822, 31 July 1837.
186. Laws, 4-20.
187. Brainerd Journal, 11 February 1823, 20 November 1823.
188. Cherokee Phoenix, 22 October 1828; Cherokee Mission Papers, 26 May 1824.
189. American Board Papers, 16 July 1825, 20 August 1825, 22 August 1825, 21 November 1825.
190. McLoughlin, Cherokees and Missionaries, 213-38; American Board Papers, 29 March 1827, 10 May 1827. Regarding women conjurers, see Cherokee Mission Papers, 16 May 1827. Subsequently, the National Council banned the kind of dissident town meetings that had spurred the resistance. One hundred lashes would be the punishment for instigators of "unlawful meetings with intent to create factions. . . or to encourage rebellion;" see Laws, 117.
191. Letters Received by the Office of Indian Affairs, 12 March 1825.
192. John Witthoft, "Observations on Social Change among the Eastern Cherokees," in The Cherokee Indian Nation: A Troubled History, ed. Duane H. King (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1979), 205-5.
193. Brainerd Journal, 30 September 1827.
194. Bays, "Historical Geography," 114-19.
195. Perdue, "Rising from Ashes," 211-12.
196. Benny Smith, "The Keetoowah Society of the Cherokee Indians" (M.A. thesis: Northwestern State College, 1967), 202-22; Witthoft, "Observations," 204.
196. Benny Smith, "The Keetoowah Society of the Cherokee Indians" (M.A. thesis: Northwestern State College, 1967), 202-22; Witthoft, "Observations," 204.
197. Witthoft, "Observations," 205-5.
198. Hudson, Southeastern Indians, 483.