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Cherokee Voices: Early Accounts of Cherokee Life in the East

Vicki Rozema, editor

John F. Blair, Publisher
$12.95 paperback
5 x 7 ½           
180 pages
Published in 2002

From the time they established formal ties with Great Britain in 1730, the Cherokees had a rocky relationship with whites. They found grounds for dispute over trade practices, territorial control, and the complicated loyalties among the various Indian tribes and European powers. Over the years, the Cherokees struggled to maintain their ancient traditions as the tribe was assimilated into the white man’s culture.

Cherokee Voices uses the participants’ own words to tell the story of early Cherokee life. The selections were gathered from journals, treaty records, and correspondence written by Cherokees or by Europeans or Americans who knew them. The excerpts begin with the 1730 visit of Alexander Cuming, who appointed an “emperor” for the Cherokees. Touching on matters as varied as the Cherokees’ oral tradition, their village life, their ball games, their treaties with whites, their famous Cherokee Phoenix newspaper, and their education in Christian mission schools, the chapters take readers from when the Indians were dependent on European trade to when they became self-sufficient farmers and tradesmen.

Unlike most books about the Cherokees, written in the third person by authors who lived years after the events, this one recognizes that no one can speak more eloquently of their lives, trials, and customs than the people themselves.


Cherokee Voices is a collection of first-person accounts of Cherokee life in the east in the 18th and 19th centuries. The accounts are taken from journals, letters, official records, and other primary sources and describe a wide range of events in Cherokee daily life and historical events. Included are speeches by Nancy Ward, the famous Cherokee Beloved Woman, and Ostenaco and Little Carpenter, two famous 18th-century Overhill Cherokee leaders. Eyewitness accounts of a Chickamauga attack on travelers on the Tennessee River, a Cherokee ball game, a Cherokee dance, descriptions of council houses, life in a Cherokee mission, front row seats at treaty talks, and other first-person accounts make this book more interesting than your typical dry textbook of Cherokee history. Rozema's book would be useful for schools for assigned reading by students to learn what the Cherokees were really like. It would be helpful to teachers or anyone else wanting to get a quick, interesting and unique perspective of Cherokee history and life.” —Amazon.com reviewer