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The Cherokee DiasporaAn Indigenous History of Migration, Resettlement, and Identity$
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Gregory D Smithers

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780300169607

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: January 2016

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300169607.001.0001

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War, Division, and Refugees

War, Division, and Refugees

(p.149) Five War, Division, and Refugees
The Cherokee Diaspora

Gregory D. Smithers

Yale University Press

This chapter examines the impact of the American Civil War on Cherokee identity and diaspora. A little over two decades had passed since thousands of Cherokees were forced to relocate from their homeland in the Southeast and create a new homeland in Indian Territory, the Cherokee people found themselves embroiled in the Civil War. The war became an economic, social, and legal calamity for the Cherokee Nation and gave rise to tens of thousands of Cherokee refugees. Most Cherokees considered the prospect of a large-scale war in the trans-Mississippi West as a threat to the future well-being of the diaspora’s political homeland. Others, especially wealthier Cherokees and Cherokee slave owners, believed they shared a social and economic stake in the fate of the Confederacy. This chapter considers how the American Civil War defined Cherokee identity in different legal ways in various parts of the Cherokee diaspora.

Keywords:   refugees, American Civil War, Cherokee identity, Cherokee, Indian Territory, Cherokee Nation, trans-Mississippi West, Southeast, Cherokee diaspora

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