Date Awarded


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)




Joshua Piker

Committee Member

Andrew Fisher

Committee Member

Fabrício Prado


A Cherokee Sword and Shield: the ᏣᎳᎩ Syllabary in the Face of the Indian Removal ActThis paper examines how Elias Boudinot and Chief John Ross intentionally invoked the Cherokee syllabary and Cherokee communities’ literacy in it to maintain Cherokee personhood and land claims in the 1820s and 1830s. I assert that Boudinot and Ross used the syllabary to prove that Cherokees did not need to be removed from their lands in order to be civilized but could uplift themselves and neighboring Native nations on their homelands. Whether or not Ross or Boudinot truly prioritized Cherokee civilization as important, they intentionally used the existence of the Cherokee syllabary as a rhetorical tool to combat the racist ideas driving the Indian Removal Act. Rooted in Linda Tuhiwai Smith’s insights into the importance of language for carrying on culture and my own positionality as a Cherokee scholar and language learner, this paper also uses the Cherokee syllabary to unsettle the assumptions that Native people are not part of academic audiences and that Native languages have vanished. Crying for Blood: Cherokee Gender, Culture, and Politics during the Anglo-Cherokee War This work responds to Jean O’Brien’s call to not settle for the idea that Indigenous peoples had culture instead of politics and examines how the political decisions made by Cherokees during the Anglo-Cherokee War were based in the cultural practices of kinship and blood law. Often, considerations of this conflict have left culture out of the equation, leaving gaps in our considerations of the complex political negotiations that Cherokees made in the mid-eighteenth century. This essay re-intertwines Cherokee matriarchal culture with the political decisions made during this war, and in doing so, offers a path to better understandings of the importance of Cherokee women in eighteenth-century Cherokee politics.



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