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This volume, presents the succession of treaties between 1785 and 1868 that reduced the holdings of the Cherokee Nation east of the Mississippi and culminated in their removal to Indian territory. Each document is accompanied by a detailed description of its antecedent conditions, the negotiations that led up to it, and its consequences. The events described here ended more than a century ago, but the motives and actions of the participants and the effects of the compromises and decisions they made are sadly familiar. The story presented here needs to be understood by everyone concerned with the survival of diverse ways of life and the quality of the relationships among peoples. The impersonal style of Royce's presentation enhances the poignancy of the Cherokee experience. Repeated declarations of peace and perpetual friendship contrast with repeated violations of treaties approved by Congress and the impotence of a people to defend their ancestral lands. The Cherokee "trail of broken treaties" has left us with a heritage of guilt and frustration that we have yet to overcome.
The Native American Library, in which this volume appears, has been initiated by the National Anthropological Archives of the National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, to publish original works by Indians and reprints selected by the tribes involved. Royce's work, which was included in the Fifth Annual Report of the Bureau of American Ethnology, is republished at the request of the Governing Body of the Cherokee Nation. The original text is prefaced by an evaluation of Royce and his work by Richard Mack Bettis and contains several illustrations not included in the earlier edition.
Charles C. Royce made two very valuable contributions to the literature on the American Indian - this book on the Cherokee and his monumental Indian Land Cessions in the United States (another Bureau of Ethnology publication). He was appointed an ethnologist on the staff of the Bureau in February 1883.