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Historical Caricature of the Cherokee Nation

Lithograph, 1886, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress

According to Jeff Corntassel in Forced Federalism: Contemporary Challenges to Indigenous Nationhood (Chapter 1).

CITATION: Forced Federalism: Contemporary Challenges to Indigenous Nationhood by Jeff Corntassel with Lindsay G. Robertson, Richard C. Witmer II, University of Oklahoma Press, 2008

"An 1886 “Historical Caricature of the Cherokee Nation” demonstrates the multiple pressures and interests acting to partition indigenous nations during this time. One can readily see the symbolism of the Cherokee Nation tied to the ground, which was allegorical to the Lilliputian lands of Gulliver’s Travels. In this caricature, the U.S. courts are cutting the hair of the Native in their efforts to “civilize,” as missionaries bore into the skull of the Cherokee to proselytize. The “body” of the Cherokee Nation is partitioned by rail- roads at the feet, while the arms, which represent lands in Alabama and Arkansas, are being sawed off by state policymakers. “Uncle Sam” sits on the bridge of the Cherokee Nation’s nose with the title of “Coroner” to make this depiction of the “vanishing Native” complete. Such a vivid image of an indigenous nation being divided by multiple loyalties and interests is just as relevant today as it was in 1886."

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