Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Decolonizing Cherokee History 1790–1830s: American Indian Holocaust, Genocidal Resistance, and Survival
by Rogers, Janna Lynell Martin, M.A., Oklahoma State University, 2019, 274; 22589145
Abstract (Summary)

This thesis situates post American Revolutionary War era Cherokee as activists who resisted settler terrorism, state sanctioned ethnic cleansing, and complete assimilation into Euroamerican society. Why did the Cherokee assimilate into larger Americanized society prior to Indian Removal? Did they desire to become White and relinquish Indigenous identity? Was Cherokee diaspora ethnic cleansing? The Cherokee were early targets of federal agendas aimed at eradicating Indigenous peoples from the American landscape. Cherokee resistance to eradication was achieved through varied levels of assimilation including intermarriage, religious conversion, incorporating the institution of slaveholding, and entering into coercive treaties that ceded tribal territory. This exposure to the ideology of the United States created shifting Cherokee ethnogenesis.

Conventional narratives dilute Native voice, perpetuate mythical divisions in Cherokee leadership, and romanticize indigeneity and forced removals. This thesis frames Cherokee experience through the lens of Genocide and Holocaust Studies. The Cherokee experience serves as a case study to decolonize master narratives that whitewash crimes against humanity and human rights violations against Indian peoples. Language of international law, used here, bolsters Indigenous perspective, highlights removal campaigns as ethnic cleansing, and points to assimilation policies as federal experiments of genocide. Framework for the Cherokee Holocaust incorporates definitions set forth by the 1948 United Nations Convention on Prevention and Punishment of Crime of Genocide, the 1998 Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, and the 1998 Ten Stages of Genocide. The 1791 Treaty of Holston and the 1835 Treaty of New Echota are examples of the term I use in this thesis referred to as paper genocide. In lieu of a romanticized “Trial of Tears,” Indian removals in this thesis are understood as ethnic cleansing, one stage of genocide. Activist narrative, resistance writing, and amplified Native voice is employed to interpret pre-removal Cherokee experience as an American Indian Holocaust.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Boles, Richard J.
Commitee: Miller, Douglas, Schauer, Matthew
School: Oklahoma State University
Department: History
School Location: United States -- Oklahoma
Source: MAI 81/7(E), Masters Abstracts International
Subjects: Native American studies, Holocaust Studies, American history
Keywords: 500 Year War, American Holocaust, American Indian Holocaust, Cherokee ethnogenesis, Ethnic cleansing, Papergenocide
Publication Number: 22589145
ISBN: 9781392545225
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