The Trail of Tears in U.S. history

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The Cherokee are described as a clean people. Cleaner than the settlers and other Indian tribes in the area. They thought water was a holy gift by the Great Spirit, so they went to it often.

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Ehle describes the Cherokee being quite matriarchal. Cherokee women had more rights than most European women did. She chose who she wanted to marry, the husband had to build the house, yet the property remained hers. She had the right to choose to kill an unwanted child, if the husband killed a child it would be murder. The birth and upbringing of a well-known Cherokee, The Ridge, is described in the narrative to tell of the ordeals the tribe endured. The biggest struggles before the forced removal for the Cherokee people was attempting to protect their territory and adapting to the cultures of the whites.

The Cherokee had made the decision to side with the British during the war, a mistake that would eventually come back to haunt them. The British had promised the Cherokee that if they won, they would help remove all the Americans from their land and forbid them from returning to it. As we know the British lost and with that so did the Cherokee Nation. Even though President Jefferson had signed the treaty of Hopewell. White settlers kept encroaching on Cherokee land. Ridge had gone raiding with a lot of the other warriors in his village. He became well respected. He did not get along with a chief named Doublehead, who was always very vicious and was easily bribed by the white men for land. As Ridge grew, he started to adapt the white ways a lot more successfully than some of his brethren. He got married and started a plantation that grew crops, had cattle, and he actually had a few slaves as well. A lot of missionaries tried to come into the village and help civilize the people through the word of God. One such missionary group was called the Moravians. They were Germans. They had promised to build churches and a boarding house and school for the children. After taking several years to build their buildings, they only promised to teach 4 kids. Outraged, the tribe voted and outed the Moravians and put in place the Presbyterians. Reverend Blackburn was in charge of the church and had promised to teach more children and to allow the option of teaching Christianity, but explained it was not a requirement for the children or the families.

The mixed-blood Cherokees were more open to the schooling and to adapting the white ways. Doublehead, a full-blood chief, and also the most ill-mannered was against any civilization, although he did accept money from the whites for land, so he can become rich.

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