"The Cherokee Diaspora" by Gregory D. Smithers

The Cherokee Diaspora An Indigenous History of Migration, Resettlement, and Identity Gregory D. Smithers

The Lamar Series in Western History
Publication date:
29 Oct 2015
Yale University Press
368 pages: 235 x 156 x 25mm
17 b-w illus.
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The Cherokee are one of the largest Native American tribes in the United States, with more than three hundred thousand people across the country claiming tribal membership and nearly one million people internationally professing to have at least one Cherokee Indian ancestor. In this revealing history of Cherokee migration and resettlement, Gregory Smithers uncovers the origins of the Cherokee diaspora and explores how communities and individuals have negotiated their Cherokee identities, even when geographically removed from the Cherokee Nation headquartered in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. Beginning in the eighteenth century, the author transports the reader back in time to tell the poignant story of the Cherokee people migrating throughout North America, including their forced exile along the infamous Trail of Tears (1838–39). Smithers tells a remarkable story of courage, cultural innovation, and resilience, exploring the importance of migration and removal, land and tradition, culture and language in defining what it has meant to be Cherokee for a widely scattered people.

Gregory D. Smithers is Professor of history at Virginia Commonwealth University and author of numerous books and articles about Native American and African American history.

"Essential reading for anyone interested in the Cherokee, as it deftly documents how they determine who is a blood relative and why that matters, both in the past and today."—Library Journal, starred review

Finalist in the 2016 Oklahoma Book Award competition in the non-fiction category

Selected as a Best of the West 2016 title in True West magazine

Received an Award of Excellence from the East Tennessee Historical Society

Winner of the 2016 Historical Book Award given by the North Carolina Society of Historians

Winner of the 2017 Independent Publisher Book Awards, in the non-fiction Multicultural Book category

"Showing us the way, Smithers superbly demonstrates the complexity inside the Cherokee Nation moving fire to rebuild in a new homeland.  This is a valuable ethnohistorical contribution to diasporic studies."—Donald L. Fixico, author of Call for Change: The Medicine Way of American Indian History, Ethos and Reality

"Cherokee Diaspora asks probing questions about Cherokee identity in the settler-colonizer world. Gregory Smithers’s lucid analysis heralds a renewed appreciation of a mobile Indigenous people who proudly negotiated the epicenter of modernity."—Ann McGrath, author of Illicit Love: Interracial Sex and Marriage in the United States and Australia

"Gregory D. Smithers places Diaspora at the center of the last two-hundred plus years of Cherokee history—and he does so in startling fashion. Smithers’ unique contribution shows how multiple migrations defined for Cherokees not only their past but their present and future as a people of multiple communities. Diaspora and migration shaped Cherokee history not only in the era of the Trail of Tears, but during the era of the American Civil War, and through subsequent decades even into the twenty-first century. This is a groundbreaking study of the Cherokee and of migration."—Alan Gallay, Texas Christian University