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Cultural colonizers : persistence and empire in the Indian antiremoval movement, 1815-1859

  • Author(s): Gonzales, Christian Michael
  • et al.
Abstract

This study investigates collaboration among missionaries, evangelicals, Quakers, Cherokee, Choctaw, and Seneca that developed in opposition to Indian removal. In 1829, a vigorous national antiremoval movement arose dedicated to the prevention of Cherokee removal. Nearly a decade later, a coalition of Seneca, Quakers, and New York citizens lobbied to prevent Seneca dispossession. Anglo antiremovalists worried removal would interrupt Indian evangelism; while Natives feared forced emigration from their ancestral homelands and erosion of tribal sovereignty. Why did these varied groups join forces against removal? Despite their divergent motivations, Native and Anglo antiremovalists shared a belief that Indian incorporation of Anglo cultural practices would bring Natives rights. They hoped Native adoption of formal education, family farming, and Christianity would yield social and political rights that could be leveraged to prevent removal. My story develops through examinations of Native-Anglo political alliances, mission Indian schools, black slavery in the Cherokee and Choctaw Nations, and Native cultural change in the post-Removal era. Scholars have created an increasingly sophisticated narrative in which the Native-Anglo military and trade alliances of the colonial era gave way in the late eighteenth century to brutal, coerced dispossession. However, the story of Native history is not only about force and power. I describe how a complex process of cooperation helped to foster American empire, yet also enabled Natives to maintain tribal identity and sovereignty

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