Trail of Tears: The Rise and Fall of the Cherokee Nation

Trail of Tears: The Rise and Fall of the Cherokee Nation

by John Ehle, Ehle


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A sixth-generation North Carolinian, highly-acclaimed author John Ehle grew up on former Cherokee hunting grounds. His experience as an accomplished novelist, combined with his extensive, meticulous research, culminates in this moving tragedy rich with historical detail.

The Cherokee are a proud, ancient civilization. For hundreds of years they believed themselves to be the "Principle People" residing at the center of the earth. But by the 18th century, some of their leaders believed it was necessary to adapt to European ways in order to survive. Those chiefs sealed the fate of their tribes in 1875 when they signed a treaty relinquishing their land east of the Mississippi in return for promises of wealth and better land. The U.S. government used the treaty to justify the eviction of the Cherokee nation in an exodus that the Cherokee will forever remember as the “trail where they cried.” The heroism and nobility of the Cherokee shine through this intricate story of American politics, ambition, and greed.

B & W photographs

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780385239547
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 09/22/1997
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 432
Sales rank: 102,494
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 8.00(h) x 1.00(d)
Lexile: 1150L (what's this?)

About the Author

John Ehle, a sixth-generation North Carolinian, grew up on land once used as hunting grounds by the Cherokee. He is the author of fourteen highly acclaimed works. His novel The Winter People has been made into a major motion picture.

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Trail of Tears 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 14 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a gripping account of one of the most unpleasant episodes in our history after slavery and Japanese internment--that of the Trail of Tears. The irony of moving this tribe is that the Cherokees were the most sophisticated and 'civilized' of the tribes that the whites encountered, as well as being monotheistic before missionaries arrived. They had incredible leadership, but it was very divided, as it is to this day in Cherokee factionalism. It is a result of the terrible event known as the Trail of Tears.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Trail of Tears: The Rise and Fall of the Cherokee Nation by John Ehle. Highly recommended. In Trail of Tears, John Ehle (who is, as far as I can tell, non-Native) sketches the people and events that led to the infamous Trail of Tears, the removal of the Cherokee Nation to 'Indian Territory' (primarily Arkansas and Oklahoma) where they would 'never' be bothered by whites again. The focus is on the 'Treaty Party,' consisting of Ridge, his son John Ridge, and his nephews Elias Boudinot and Stand Watie, along with Moravian, Methodist, and other missionaries sent to convert the Cherokees to Christianity and who are caught up in Cherokee/state/federal politics. Ehle's bias is evident in the title; the 'rise' of the Cherokees is the effort, not wholly embraced by the Nation, of adapting to European-American culture, language, religion, and even livelihood (e.g., Cherokee hunting is uncivilized, whereas the adoption of American farming is preferable). The story begins with some background and the birth of a Cherokee man named Ridge not too long before the American Revolutionary War. The white impact has already begun to be felt, as one of Ridge's forebears is white, and he and his family are driven into the wilds by the war. After the war ends, the new Americans have one craving¿land and more land. A gold strike in Georgia adds to the fever. The Cherokee, along with the Choctaw, Creek, and other southern tribes, are perceived as 'wasting' land that their white counterparts should be entitled to. From this point on, it is clear that the Juggernaut of American expansionism and greed will displace the Native peoples. The question is only how and when. Meanwhile, Ridge, who will not convert to Christianity but who wholeheartedly adopts many white ways for himself and his children, becomes not only a wealthy plantation owner but a leader of the Cherokee Nation. His son becomes an attorney, while Boudinot becomes the first editor of the Cherokee newspaper, The Phoenix. Both young men marry white New Englanders they meet while at school. Ridge and his family and allies are the first to see the writing on the wall¿that the Cherokees will be removed; it is a matter of whether it is 'voluntarily' on their own terms in their own time or involuntarily. The principal chief of the Cherokee, a Cherokee-Scot named John Ross, is portrayed as a man in a state of denial. It is never clear how he thought the Cherokee could overcome the overwhelming tide of white intrusion without bloodshed and without losing. He and his followers blame the Ridge faction for selling the Cherokee out when they sign the Treaty of 1835 that puts the seal on the removal. They feel that they can continue to 'negotiate,' not realising that Andrew Jackson has set the tone and the terms¿and that the federal government under his leadership has loaded the die. Ehle is no John Ross fan; when the inevitable finally happens and the Cherokee are removed, Ross sends them via the lengthy, dangerous, time-consuming land route, resulting in hundreds if not thousands of deaths (the number remains unknown), while Ross and his family use the quicker, less treacherous water routes. There are several dichotomies in this history¿the Upper Towns vs. the Lower Towns; the full-bloods vs. those with white ancestors/family; the uneducated (mostly full-bloods, according to Ehle) vs. the educated (John Ridge, Boudinot); the federal government vs. state government (a dichotomy that would be resolved violently through the Civil War). A forest/mountain vs. town dichotomy is also evident. In any case, anything that speaks of the way the Cherokee used to be is seen as 'primitive,' while Cherokee adoption of white ways is lauded by their neighbors. In fact, this is seen as the heart of the problem; the Che
sews More than 1 year ago
I bought this to teach "the trail of Tears" for a history lesson. I thought it was great for that. A bit long, but it had more content then other books I had looked at before. That is the reason I got this book,some of the other books just told half the story.
Spencer413 More than 1 year ago
I bought this book for my friend, She loves the book, but disturbing some to her as she is 1/2 Cherokee.
vixa More than 1 year ago
I am reading Trail of Tears to find out more about about how the Indians got moved out of their homelands, and also to read about one of my ancestors, Charles Renatus Hicks, who is listed as one of the prominent full or 1/2 Indians who drafted treaties and met with the US government in Washington. This is a really good history of that time period and there are afew photographs of James Vann and Capt. Ridge, etc. I am not finished reading it yet, but almost wish I had a hard copy of it to keep on hand as part of my genealogy.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am past the halfway point in this book (page 232 of 397) and so far, it has all been about the events that lead up to the actual relocation. The history is very detailed (maybe to a fault) and it is more in depth than I was expecting. For about the last 4 chapters, I've been waiting to read about the forced reloctaion of the Cherokee. I don't think it would have detracted from the history to pare down some of the insignificant details a bit.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
That was the cry at the time, but it of course referred to the opportunities offered by the vast open spaces up for grabs. Unfortunately it meant pushing the Indian tribes further west too. No single event epitomises this more than the so called Trail of Tears in 1838 when the Cherokee Nation was almost completely dispossesed of it's lands in Georgia and moved to the then new lands west of the Mississippi. Moving peoples is nothing new in history, infact we did it in Palestine after WW2, but as in all these stories there are good and bad characters on both sides and few make more interesting reading than the re-location of the Cherokees.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago