Final Post

During this summer, I mainly examined the question of how the Cherokees remembered the Civil War. Through reading different types of sources, such as correspondence, oral history transcripts, and newspaper, I discovered the close relationship between the Cherokee Civil War memories and their political and sociocultural identity. I summarized eight themes in their popular remembrance and political appeals, arguing that the construction of their Civil War memories helped them articulate their peculiar political identity as a sovereign nation and a culture identity as a tribe. Presenting Cherokee voices in the broader discussion of the Civil War memories, I hope to raise a greater consciousness of American Indians’ role in the progress American History and demonstrating the complexities of Civil War memories from a Native perspective.

This research experience for me is really rewarding. I set out not knowing where this research would end. Reading those sources opened a new and interesting door for me to better understand the history this group of people in relations to the broader U. S. History. The research process also exposed some problems in historical research, especially how to organize, select, and synthesize a relatively large number of primary documents, which I have never encountered in my previous smaller projects. Although most of the time, the archives came up not as I expected, and I needed to arduously sift through piles of materials to find a little useful information (for example, 15 reels of microfilms, where each contains more than a thousand pages), the valuable sources I found could always make me thrilled and made up all the disappointment before encountering them. This research experience also put me in touch with scholars in Oklahoma, as I contacted a scholar in Oklahoma because I’d like to confirm with her a point she mentioned in a Youtube video a couple of years ago that I accidentally ran into.

Moreover this project showed me the positive prospect of the studies of American Indians’ Civil War memory as there is a very limited amount of literature on this topic. I may explore more about the material culture to enrich my understanding of the popular memory of the war among them. I may also extend the study to the other four tribes of the so-called Five Civilized Tribes since various narrations of them suggested the existence of their respective memories.

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