Dissertations Relating to the EBCI

This is a list of dissertations that have been written on the history of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. Click on the titles below for full descriptions and citations.

Playing or praying? The Cherokee anetso ceremonial complex (North Carolina)
Zogry, Michael Jonathan

Public Indians, private Cherokees: Indigenous identity at the intersection of tourism, acculturation, and cultural continuity (North Carolina)
Beard-Moose, Christina Taylor

Reading culture: The Cherokee syllabary and the eastern Cherokees, 1993-1995
Bender, Margaret Clelland

"In the beginning...": An Eliadean interpretation of Frank G. Speck's account of the Booger Dance of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (Mircea Eliade)
Powers, William Douglas

Parkway Politics: Class, Culture, And Tourism In The Blue Ridge (North Carolina, Blue Ridge Parkway, Virginia, Shenandoah National Park, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee)
Mitchell, Anne Virginia

The Eastern Band Of Cherokees: A Study Of Their Perceptions Of Education And Dropping Out Of School
Hipps, Doris Bradley

The Aged In Past And Present Eastern Cherokee Society
Marino, Cesare Rosario

The Role Of The Scribe In Eastern Cherokee Society, 1821-1985 (Literacy, Writing, American Indians; North Carolina)
Monteith, Carmaleta Littlejohn

Indian Education: An Ethnohistorical Analysis
French, Laurence Armand

An Ethnoarchaeological Approach To Cherokee Subsistence And Settlement Patterns
White, Max Edgar


Playing or praying? The Cherokee anetso ceremonial complex (North Carolina)
Zogry, Michael Jonathan
Ph.D.
2003
00444
University of California, Santa Barbara; 0035
Chair Ines M. Talamantez
DAI, 64, no. 11A (2003): p. 4083

This dissertation argues that anetso, the Cherokee ball game, as the centerpiece of a ceremonial complex, defies definition as either a “ritual” or a “game,” as such concepts are conventionally understood. By constructing a ritual history, this study will argue for the long-standing significance of the ball game in Cherokee culture, and detail the many constituent activities that both Cherokee and non-Cherokee observers have termed “religious.” Rather than express one “meaning” through its performance, instead anetso sustains a variety of cultural meanings, one or more of which may surface in a particular historical instance. More broadly, the ball game complex is a useful test case for interpretation of cultural forms that do not conform to definitional boundaries created by discrete classification systems.

In the Cherokee narrative tradition anetso occurs both as an activity that humans, animals and other beings perform, and as a metaphor for battle or engagement of some kind. Historical and ethnographic records reveal that Cherokee people have invoked the metaphor of anetso as well as participated in the activity for centuries. Anetso has proven to be a resilient and emblematic element of Cherokee culture, continuing to surface in situations of cultural conflict for Cherokee people, before and after the Trail of Tears.

Cherokee people employed the ball game as an aspect of tourist trade in earlier centuries, and this continued throughout the twentieth century, as they presented certain elements of the anetso complex to the rest of the world while privately maintaining many of the traditions associated with it. Nevertheless, the basic framework of the ball game complex has remained intact, even though it has undergone many changes.

Academic and popular observers have continued to report on the ball game; it has been invoked to support a variety of theories, as well as to illustrate Cherokee culture. Anetso continues to be a symbol of Cherokee identity and culture both within the Qualla Boundary community and beyond it. For many members of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians in North Carolina, it continues to be an important tradition in which they are actively engaged as well.

 

Public Indians, private Cherokees: Indigenous identity at the intersection of tourism, acculturation, and cultural continuity (North Carolina)
Beard-Moose, Christina Taylor
Ph.D.
2004
00339
The University of Iowa; 0096
Supervisor Florence Babb
DAI, 65, no. 04A (2004): p. 1424

This dissertation argues that tourism is the most prevalent acculturative agent at work on indigenous populations in the United States at the present time. To discuss this, I present a case study examining the situation of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians in western North Carolina. This work is concerned with the ways in which tourist venues exist within the physical space that is also simultaneously autonomous, specific Eastern Cherokee physical space. As such, mass tourism represents one current of a “mainstream American” lifeway that runs continuously through Cherokee land and lifeways. Cherokee-Americans currently face many of the same problems with the federal government that their ancestors have faced for centuries. Among these are the struggle for land; the struggle for language retention; the struggle for autonomy, and the struggle with dependency on a EuroAmerican culture. These issues were and are especially salient in a gendered context. For women, roles in society have depended on the continuity of Cherokee lifeways and identities. For men, roles in society have been disrupted over and over again by lingering post-colonial presence that has led to male anomie. Within the frame of mass tourism as the acculturative agent, I examine the relationship between the generalized “Indian” identity created specifically to promote the tourist industry, and the continuous, individuated Cherokee identity that is maintained and negotiated as an integral part of the Cherokee worldview. I focus on how Cherokee identity is affected in some knowable way by the tourist industry. As mass tourism and the “Disneyfication” process continue their prodigious worldwide growth, cultural change is occurring at an ever-increasing rate for indigenous populations.

“Traditional” meanings, languages, and practices for indigenous populations are rapidly being lost within nation-states, where forced change to a globalized economy is the norm. However, if Eastern Cherokee perceptions are indicators of the results of long-term indigenous contact with mass tourism, there remains a distinctly private space to retain and live an indigenous identity.

 

Reading culture: The Cherokee syllabary and the eastern Cherokees, 1993-1995
Bender, Margaret Clelland
Ph.D.
1996
00239
The University of Chicago; 0330
Adviser Raymond D. Fogelson
DAI, 57, no. 05A (1996): p. 2108

This dissertation is based on fieldwork conducted with the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians from September of 1992 through March of 1995. The objective was to study current usage of the Cherokee syllabary, the native-developed writing system adopted by the Cherokees in the 1820s. In particular, the author explored how native ideologies of literacy might be related to patterns of syllabary usage and distribution.

Following the introduction, the dissertation explores the major anthropological theories of literacy and orality, reviewing the major arguments of both the "autonomous" and "ideological" schools of literacy studies, and suggesting ways in which this dissertation builds upon the "ideological" model. Another chapter provides a brief summary of the history of the Cherokee syllabary and presents some of the tensions or conflicts that have been evident in the ways the syllabary has been received, perceived and categorized since its invention. Later chapters draw on the author's classroom and community participant-observation and interviews to suggest that many of the cultural presuppositions about the syllabary evident in its usage are linked by the image of a secret code. Articulating with these cultural presuppositions are users' stated metalinguistic beliefs about the syllabary, including beliefs about its relationship to spoken language, to Biblical language, and to particular dialects of Cherokee. Finally, the dissertation explores the role played by the syllabary in the context of tourism, and seeks to describe the various types of value the syllabary holds and accrues in possession, usage, and circulation--as a boundary-setting code, source of metalinguistic knowledge, and as an agent and medium of commodification.

 

"In the beginning...": An Eliadean interpretation of Frank G. Speck's account of the Booger Dance of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (Mircea Eliade)
Powers, William Douglas
Ph.D.
2001
00211
University of Missouri - Columbia; 0133
Supervisor Weldon B. Durham
DAI, 62, no. 09A (2001): p. 2928
ISBN: 0-493-37323-3

This dissertation considers the Cherokee Booger Dance as a purely religious phenomenon by reinterpreting anthropologist Frank G. Speck's observations of a performance held by the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians through the lens of Mircea Eliade's theory of religion. This investigation attempts to present the ritual as a means of acquiring spiritual transcendence, held by Eliade to be a universal human longing. This perspective differs from the assertion posited by Speck, based on cultural evolution and theories of functional reductionism, that the Booger Dance is little more than a manifestation of sociological or psychological conditions exasperated by historical Cherokee-white relations.

Illuminated by Eliade's theory, the Booger Dance as observed by Speck is revealed to be the reenactment of the Cherokee cosmogony. The performance of the ritual therefore metaphysically returns the participant back to the Paradise created by the gods, a Paradise ultimately lost through mans disobedience and subsequent fall from grace. Returning to Paradise restores man to sacredness, to an existence restored to reality and meaningfulness, rather than one made profane by the absence of the sacred, manifested by life moving forward in history towards death.

Importantly, examining the ritual through the lens of Eliade's theory removes the theoretical chauvinism propounded by reductionism. The beliefs and rituals maintained by the Cherokee are respect; they are not usurped and manipulated in the name of science to explain them as something other than what their celebrants proclaim them to be: the manifestations of traditional, deeply-held spiritual convictions.

 

Parkway Politics: Class, Culture, And Tourism In The Blue Ridge (North Carolina, Blue Ridge Parkway, Virginia, Shenandoah National Park, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee)
Mitchell, Anne Virginia
PH.D.
1997
00351
THE UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA AT CHAPEL HILL; 0153
Adviser: JACQUELYN D. HALL
DAI, 58, no. 04A, (1997): 1425

This dissertation explores the early development in North Carolina of the National Park Service's Blue Ridge Parkway, a 469-mile scenic highway connecting Virginia's Shenandoah National Park with the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Debates over the road during its formative period (1933-42) illustrate that it was a highly contested--that is, political--project which promised significant benefits to some while exacting steep costs from others.

Emerging from the context of North Carolina's good roads movement, the creation of new national parks in the east, and earlier efforts to build scenic highways in the Appalachians, the Parkway was built when the New Deal offered business-oriented mountain leaders a chance to secure federal funding for their tourist development plans. The 1934 routing battle between Asheville, North Carolina and Knoxville, Tennessee revealed the project's staunchest North Carolina partisans to be well-heeled tourism boosters little concerned with the economic and transportation needs of most mountain people. The land acquisition process exposed the Parkway's class bias as extensive right-of-way requirements and restrictive access and usage rules placed disproportionate burdens on smaller, poorer landowners while offering them few benefits.

Small landowners' ensuing protests had little effect, while the complaints of better organized and more powerful landowners commanded government attention. Opposition from the owners of the Little Switzerland resort and the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians illustrated fundamental conflicts generated by construction of a scenic parkway instead of a regular highway: clashes between public and private tourist development, tensions between the state and federal governments about the Parkway's purpose, and issues of class and cultural manipulation.

The Park Service's interpretation of Appalachian history, which has situated the Parkway in a one-dimensional picture of "pioneer" life while obliterating signs of other historical processes at work in the southern highlands, has hindered understanding of the Blue Ridge Parkway itself as a product of and an active agent affecting the course of western North Carolina and southern Appalachian history. The Parkway was, however, from its inception both of the mountains and a catalyst for profound social and cultural conflict and change within them.

 

The Eastern Band Of Cherokees: A Study Of Their Perceptions Of Education And Dropping Out Of School
Hipps, Doris Bradley
ED.D.
1994
00138
UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH CAROLINA; 0202
Major Professor: JAMES SEARS
DAI, 55, no. 07A, (1994): 1809

The purpose of the study is to explore how the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indian students and their families value formal education, understand the phenomena of "dropping out" of school, and their feelings about cultural values in the formal school setting.

The data collection was accomplished through the observation and interviewing of four Eastern Band of Cherokee Indian families. Each family was selected because they were representative of a segment of the population on the Qualla Boundary. Each family had at least one child which had completed or would complete high school and at least one child that had dropped out within the last five years or a student that could be described as a potential dropout.

Four case studies were written. One case study was developed for each family. All Indian families perceived the purpose of formal education was for their children to be able to get a "good" job.

The phenomenon of "dropping out" of school was investigated. The data revealed that families felt the school system encourages their students to drop out. The families and students felt that public schools were overtly prejudiced against Indian students. The schools did not provide a curriculum that was meaningful to the lives of the students.

All Indian families considered cultural relevance in school curriculum very important. Traditional Indian families feel culture in the curriculum should be a way of life. Indian families from a white world orientation think culture in the curriculum should be taught as a subject, such as Cherokee History and Cherokee Language.

The investigation identified ideas and components that Eastern Cherokee families felt were important to have in high school curriculum. The data findings may be used in the design of school curriculum. According to the findings, the school curriculum should be designed to incorporate cultural needs and cultural strengths of Cherokee Indian students. If school curriculum met the needs of students, students would remain in school and the drop out rate for Eastern Cherokee students would be reduced.

 

The Aged In Past And Present Eastern Cherokee Society
Marino, Cesare Rosario
PH.D.
1987
00316
THE AMERICAN UNIVERSITY; 0008
DAI, 48, no. 08A, (1987): 2094

This is a study of the status, roles and functions of the aged in aboriginal Cherokee society and contemporary Eastern Cherokee reservation life. The first part of this work focuses on an ethnohistorical reconstruction of the prestigious 'place' the so-called beloved men and beloved grandmothers occupied in pre-removal Cherokee tribal life. In the mid-nineteenth century, the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians emerged as a new socio-political entity, no longer under the old religious gerontocracy, but still guided by the tribal elders.

The second part of the study illustrates the nature and extent to which today's older tribal members, the senior citizens, participate in and contribute to family and community life. The picture emerging from field research contradicts the disengagement and reductionist theories of aging. Instead, it appears that, despite some limitations, the aged are still integrated members of Eastern Cherokee society which has maintained a positive cultural perception of and values associated with old age and the elderly.

 

The Role Of The Scribe In Eastern Cherokee Society, 1821-1985 (Literacy, Writing, American Indians; North Carolina)
Monteith, Carmaleta Littlejohn
PH.D.
1985
00227
EMORY UNIVERSITY; 0665
DAI, 46, no. 06A, (1985): 1546

The focus of this study is to examine the influence of the scribe in Eastern Cherokee society since 1821. Scribes in other societies function in various capacities including serving as public servants, recorders of legal and financial transactions and recorders of history. It was assumed that scribes in Eastern Cherokee society functioned in similar capacities. Of particular interest was the role of the scribe in sustaining Cherokee culture.

The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians originated in 1819 when a few Cherokee families residing in western North Carolina severed their relationship with the tribal majority and established settlements outside the territory of the Cherokee Nation. Through the efforts of a white merchant, William Holland Thomas, the Eastern Band avoided removal in 1838 with the rest of the Cherokee Nation. Thomas managed the affairs of the Band and purchased land scattered in five counties for the establishment of townships with local government. For over forty years, Thomas protected the interests of the Eastern Band and tried to resolve poorly-defined relationships with the state and federal governments.

The Quallatown Cherokee as they were known were among the most conservative members of the Cherokee Nation. In 1821, Sequoyah, an illiterate Cherokee devised a writing system with eighty-six characters which represented the sounds in Cherokee speech. The conservative Cherokee, mostly full-bloods, eagerly learned the system and taught it to others. They wrote letters, recorded stories, songs, medical formulas, township proceedings and other transactions of a personal nature. As in other literary societies, the professional scribe emerged in Eastern Cherokee society and became the recorder of Cherokee culture. Sequoyah and five Eastern Cherokee who were literate in the Cherokee language are included in this study. Being literate provided for these members to participate in Cherokee society as the tribe was undergoing rapid political, social and economic changes. Their roles include serving as township clerk, story teller, ritual leader and informant, medicine man and tribal clerk.

 

Indian Education: An Ethnohistorical Analysis
French, Laurence Armand
PH.D.
1981
00345
THE UNIVERSITY OF NEBRASKA - LINCOLN; 0138
DAI, 42, no. 03A, (1981): 1056

This study represents an ethnohistorical analysis of Indian education, one which follows the Hegelian format (thesis, antithesis, and synthesis). Toward this end the dissertation is divided into four sections: (1) An Analysis of American Education--social and historical perspectives, (2) Aboriginal Thesis--An ethnohistory of three tribes, the Cherokee, Athapaskan/Apache and Sioux, (3) The Accommodative Antithesis, and (4) The Multicultural Synthesis.

The first section, "An Analysis of American Education," is designed to touch upon the major theoretical and historical perspectives relevant to the study. This section provides a basis for comparison relevant to the subsequent sections. Majority/minority relations, a multidisciplinary look at education and a chronological analysis of educational development and corresponding Indian policies (Colonial, Early Republic, Reconstruction, Progressive and Technological eras) sets the stage for a more complete analysis of the other sections.

The next section, "Aboriginal Thesis," follows the ethnohistorical development of three traditional Indian groups from pre-Columbian contact up until the time of forced accommodation. This is a comparative analysis which is designed to illustrate the qualitative differences which exist between groups sharing a common epistemological methodology--that of the "Harmony Ethos." Education here takes on the larger social definition that John Dewey, Robert Havighurst, Margaret Mead, Vine Deloria, Jr. and others advocated. The section focuses on the social education of the three largest and perhaps best known North American Indian groups--Cherokee, Athapaskan/Apache, and Plains Sioux.

The Accommodative Antithesis follows with an analysis of Western-style models of Indian education and resocialization. This analysis follows the model presented in the first section discussing these developments within five time eras: Colonial, Early Republic, Reconstruction, Progressive and Technological. Consequently Indian schools are related to, and compared with, other educational developments within the United States. Moreover, these events are associated with corresponding Indian policy during these time spans. Types of Indian schools are discussed as well as Indian enrollment in public and private schools and the impact of major studies on Indian education. These include the Meriam and Kennedy reports as well as the more recent Indian Task Force Report.

The concluding section, the Multicultural Synthesis, attempts to integrate the positive attributes of both the Aboriginal Thesis and the Accommodative Synthesis into a viable Indian educational orientation. The major focus of the section is directed toward pluralistic, or multicultural, education and socialization. This section involves considerable discussion of one innovative Indian education system in particular, that of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians.

In the final analysis we present an Indian education perspective, along with curriculum design, teacher preparation and multicultural counseling techniques, that supports both the unique cultural orientation of the Indian student while at the same time preparing these students to interact within the larger, majority society.

 

An Ethnoarchaeological Approach To Cherokee Subsistence And Settlement Patterns
White, Max Edgar
PH.D.
1980
00315
INDIANA UNIVERSITY; 0093
DAI, 41, no. 03A, (1980): 1116

The subject of this study is the subsistence and settlement patterns of the late prehistoric/early historic Cherokee Indians of the southeastern United States. Ethnoarchaeology, employing data from both archaeology and ethnohistory, is a relatively new sub-field within anthropology and is an innovative approach to studying the past culture of contemporary of historical peoples. An examination of the extant literature concerning settlement and subsistence patterns of the Cherokees and other native tribes of the inland southeast reveals a lack of systematic treatment of these aspects of aboriginal life. Furthermore, the archaeological record is generally inadequate when it alone is used as the basis for reconstructions of the subsistence pattern of the group under study. In the present work, the ethnoarchaeological approach is used to identify the settlement and subsistence patterns of the Cherokees. The findings are then compared to the archaeological record, and archaeologist's interpretations are evaluated.

After a brief essay on tribal history, the biogeographic environment is discussed. The Cherokees are found to have occupied portions of three physiographic provinces, encompassing some seven forest types. Both floral and faunal resources are discussed and the habits and favored habitat of faunal species are presented. Also included is a discussion of the range in elevation of various edible plants and nut-bearing trees. This data is used to demonstrate that, both in variety and quantity, the lower elevations (i.e. below about 2,500 feet above sea level) contained the greatest concentration of plant and animal life, and therefore would have formed the best areas for the hunting and gathering activities of native peoples.

Information on the subsistence and settlement patterns of the early historic Cherokees, as contained in the writings of traders, missionaries, travelers, et al., reveals substantial gaps in descriptions of these aspects of tribal life. While descriptions of Cherokee communities are adequate for an understanding of the settlement pattern, none of the early historic sources furnish a complete picture of subsistence practices. Later ethnographers working among the Cherokees also neglected this area of inquiry. As a result of this data deficiency, the author of the present work conducted research among elderly members of the Eastern Band of Cherokees and the subsistence data generated by this fieldwork is incorporated into Chapter IV. This data, along with that contained in the early records, makes it possible to identify primary resources and to reconstruct the seasonal round of subsistence activity.

Archaeological evidence of early historic and late prehistoric Cherokee settlement patterns is contained in data generated by site surveys in the western Carolinas, north Georgia, and east Tennessee. Indications of subsistence practices as revealed in the archaeological record are obtained primarily from excavations at two historic Cherokee towns and one late prehistoric settlement. The interpretations of this data by archaeologists are examined and compared to the reconstruction of subsistence activities made possible by the author's fieldwork and ethnohistorical records.

The archaeological record pertaining to settlement patterns is found to correspond closely to the early historic descriptions, but reconstructions of aboriginal subsistence by archaeologists are found to be inadequate and often erroneous. Ethnoarchaeology reveals some of the reasons for this, including a description of native food-processing techniques which destroyed skeletal material of many smaller faunal species. It is concluded that Cherokee settlements, located exclusively in riverbottoms along the major streams of their territory, meant that the best agricultural land was being utilized and that there was ready access to the forest zones containing the greatest concentration of plant and animal life. It is suggested that the ethnoarchaeological approach may prove useful in studying other southeastern tribal groups, particularly the Choctaw and Seminole.

 

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