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Review of Cherokee Americans

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John R. Finger's "Cherokee Americans: The Eastern Band of Cherokees in the Twentieth Century" explores the Eastern Band of Cherokees still living on reservation land in North Carolina. This book describes the modern consequences of the Eastern Band's decision to avoid removal and stay in the Great Smoky Mountains. Because of this decision the Eastern Band remains is a separate legal and tribal entity from the Western Band despite a common background. They continue to face obstacles dealing with mainstream society and face legal issues and tribal factionalism in an attempt to maintain their Indian identity.

Despite the railroads advance into their area the Eastern Band initially remained isolated. Eventually the railroads began to have an effect on the tribe. Located in the Western tip of North Carolina the Cherokee reservation gradually became affected by the timber industry. The late arriving wave of industrialization brought with it labor, wages and the ability to make a profit. Unfortunately, the problems of assimilation and factionalism that plague Native Americans continued.

The other factor that affected the Eastern Bands isolation was the involvement of the United States in World War 2. Using the war as a method of assimilation the federal government required Indians to register with the selective service. This requirement raised a host of citizenship questions which in turn created questions about voting rights and the possibility of allotment. After the war the failing economy began to affect reservation employment. Thus, Cherokees turned to tourism and increased agriculture as a means of survival. Along with their adaptation to capitalism, the Cherokees also experienced modern education and health care, as well as an increase in Christianity. However, the people combined these new ways with their old ways. For instance, church services were held in Cherokee and followed by traditional ceremonies.

Reservation life continued to change during the 1930s. The Indian New Deal brought jobs with the Indian Civil Conservation Corps. The New Deal's support of tradition changed the face of Indian education and encouraged tribal arts and crafts on the reservation. Apart from the Indian New Deal, Roosevelt established the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which dramatically increased the opportunity for a tourist industry. The New Deal support of arts and crafts helped to facilitate tourism. During World War II tourism on the reservation decreased. However, after the war was over it began to thrive again.

The post-World War II era brought a significant change to federal Indian policy. During the 1950s the Eastern Band faced the Indian Claims Commission, relocation, and the threat of termination. The Cherokees also experienced an increase of interest from anthropologists. Anthropologists were interested in comparing traditional communities with the more acculturated ones. The 1960s brought

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