Was the Cherokee Nation "Civilized"?In an 1835 message to Congress, Andrew Jackson justified Indian removal by noting, “It seems now to be an established fact that they can not live in contact...

Was the Cherokee Nation "Civilized"?

In an 1835 message to Congress, Andrew Jackson justified Indian removal by noting, “It seems now to be an established fact that they can not live in contact with a civilized community and prosper.” Does the 1827 Constitution of the Cherokee Nation  support or refute Jackson’s contention? 

Asked on by normag9

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rrteacher's profile pic

rrteacher | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

In reply to Post 5: 

I did not say that a bicameral legislature embodied Cherokee civilization, but assimilation. (The fact that is was bicameral, by the way, is really of no great consequence.) What it and the other things I mentioned showed was that the Cherokee were willing to adopt American institutions in order to live peacefully on their lands. Which, as I mentioned in my post, pretty neatly refutes Jackson's assertion. 

litteacher8's profile pic

litteacher8 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

I do not think we can apply modern sensibilities to this time period.  The Native Americans, including the Cherokee tribe, had their own culture.  When we use the term "civilized" we are making a judgment, and that really is not appropriate.

rrteacher's profile pic

rrteacher | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

The 1827 Constitution, among other things, definitively refutes Jackson's contention. The Cherokee, more than any other major group of Southeastern Indians (except, perhaps, the Catawba) had adopted many western institutions. Many Cherokee spoke English, lived in large towns, and some (though by no means all) had converted to Christianity. The Cherokee also developed a written alphabet for their own language, developed by Sequoyah. Additionally, many Cherokee elites practiced plantation agriculture, including slave ownership. The 1827 constitution, which included an executive, a bicameral legislature, and a judiciary, was the political embodiment of Cherokee assimilation. Removal was based not on any lack of "civilization" on the part of the Cherokee, but rather on the demand for new lands for gold and cotton on the part of Southern whites.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cherokee#Acculturation

shake99's profile pic

shake99 | Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted on

The white European contention that American-Indian nations were not "civilized" was probably nothing more than a way to try to get them "out of the way" of white economic development. This is not a proud moment in our history.

estherrubio's profile pic

estherrubio | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted on

The 1827 Constitution, among other things, definitively refutes Jackson's contention. The Cherokee, more than any other major group of Southeastern Indians (except, perhaps, the Catawba) had adopted many western institutions. Many Cherokee spoke English, lived in large towns, and some (though by no means all) had converted to Christianity. The Cherokee also developed a written alphabet for their own language, developed by Sequoyah. Additionally, many Cherokee elites practiced plantation agriculture, including slave ownership. The 1827 constitution, which included an executive, a bicameral legislature, and a judiciary, was the political embodiment of Cherokee assimilation. Removal was based not on any lack of "civilization" on the part of the Cherokee, but rather on the demand for new lands for gold and cotton on the part of Southern whites.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cherokee#Acculturation

Cherokee people were as civilized as their white neighbors. It's hard to imagine the effort it must have taken for people with an oral culture to teach themselves a corresponding written language, which included learning an alphabet.

While the social and linguistic factors  would indeed seem to support the Cherokee people's ability and willingness to embrace Anglo-American definitions of civilization, can we automatically draw the same conclusions from the Cherokee Constitution? Why would something like a bicameral legislature "embody" Cherokee civilization? Is there anything inherently civilized about dividing a legislature into two chambers?

 

normag9's profile pic

normag9 | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted on

Cherokee people were as civilized as their white neighbors. It's hard to imagine the effort it must have taken for people with an oral culture to teach themselves a corresponding written language, which included learning an alphabet.

While the social and linguistic factors  would indeed seem to support the Cherokee people's ability and willingness to embrace Anglo-American definitions of civilization, can we automatically draw the same conclusions from the Cherokee Constitution? Why would something like a bicameral legislature "embody" Cherokee civilization? Is there anything inherently civilized about dividing a legislature into two chambers?

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