Policy>Historical Caricature of the Cherokee Nation
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
CITATION: Forced Federalism: Contemporary Challenges
to Indigenous Nationhood by Jeff Corntassel with Lindsay G.
Robertson, Richard C. Witmer II, University of Oklahoma Press,
"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."