During the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the federal government sought to forcibly assimilate Native Americans into American society through systematized land
allotment. In Sustaining the Cherokee Family, Rose Stremlau illuminates the impact of this policy on the Cherokee Nation, particularly within individual families and communities
in modern-day northeastern Oklahoma.
|"In this complex, multi-layered, and extremely well-written book, Rose Stremlau reveals that, although allotment robbed the Cherokees of much of their land, it did not destroy their identity and culture. By focusing on continuity in family relationships, rather than upheaval and dramatic change at the political and economic level, Stremlau demonstrates the persistence of the Cherokee. This is an exceptional work.
— Margaret D. Jacobs, University of Nebraska, Lincoln
"In this deeply researched and well-written book, Rose Stremlau provides a Cherokee-centered narrative that focuses on how families and communities survived allotment on their own terms--a study that counters conventional stories of the imminent decline of American Indians in the face of allotment. Featuring an impressive use of documentary and oral history sources, Sustaining the Cherokee Family is an invaluable contribution to our understanding of Native American history.
— Katherine M. B. Osburn, Tennessee Technological University, author of Southern Ute Women: Autonomy and Assimilation on the Reservation, 1887-1934
Emphasizing Cherokee agency, Stremlau reveals that Cherokee families' organization, cultural values, and social and economic practices allowed them to adapt to private land ownership by
incorporating elements of the new system into existing domestic and community-based economies. Drawing on evidence from a range of sources, including Cherokee and United States
censuses, federal and tribal records, local newspapers, maps, county probate records, family histories, and contemporary oral histories, Stremlau demonstrates that Cherokee management
of land perpetuated the values and behaviors associated with their sense of kinship, therefore uniting extended families. And, although the loss of access to land and communal resources
slowly impoverished the region, it reinforced the Cherokees' interdependence. Stremlau argues that the persistence of extended family bonds allowed indigenous communities to retain a
collective focus and resist aspects of federal assimilation policy during a period of great social upheaval.
Rose Stremlau is assistant professor of history and American Indian studies at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke.
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