The Texas Cherokees: A People Between Two Fres, 1819-i840. By Diana Everett.
(Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 199o. Pp. xiv+173. Preface,
maps, illustrations, epilogue, notes, bibliography, index. $14.95.)
From 1794 to 18i9 more than three thousand Cherokee Indians emigrated
from their homelands in the southern Appalachian Mountains across the Mis-
sissippi River and into Arkansas Territory. In 1819 small groups of these West-
ern Cherokees crossed the border into Texas, and by 1833 there were eight
hundred Cherokees south of the Red River. For two decades the Texas Chero-
kees played a key role in the turbulent events in Texas since they quickly as-
sumed an influential position over the other emigrant tribes (such as the Dela-
wares, Shawnees, and Kickapoos) who had also settled in East Texas. Diane
Everett has carefully examined the history of the Cherokees in Texas and has
skillfully cleared up the many misconceptions about the tribe that have plagued
both contemporaries and historians ever since the Cherokees were brutally
driven from Texas in 1839.
The focus of Everett's book is the internal politics of the Texas Cherokees
and their responses to the rapid swirl of events that occurred during this era.
In keeping with this focus, the author has used Cherokee names such as Duwali
(Chief Bowl) and Gatunwali (Hard Mush) in place of the monikers given to
them by whites. According to the author, "an outstanding characteristic of
[traditional] Cherokee life was factionalism In political and diplomatic affairs"
(p. 6), which was exacerbated by European intrusion. The Texas Cherokees
also found it difficult to reach a consensus since they were so often placed "be-
tween two fires": the Anglos and the Mexicans, the native Texas Indians and
the whites, and Sam Houston and Mirabeau Lamar. The traditional Cherokee
factionalism, combined with the fact that the tribe had two chiefs-a "white,"
peacetime chief and a "red" chief for diplomacy and war-often confused out-
siders and caused them to suspect the Cherokees of duplicity.
The strong point of this book is the author's ability to clarify the Cherokees'
motives and reactions to the highly complex and confused situations that
continuously arose. The tribe's attempt to obtain a land grant (which lasted
throughout their stay in Texas) from various governments, as well as their role
in the Fredonian Rebellion, are handled extremely well. Everett is also particu-
larly adept in dealing with the Cherokees' actions during the Texas Revolution
and the Cordova Rebellion of 1838. Cherokee factionalism led to dangerous
divisions within the tribe during this extremely volatile period as some tribes-
men favored the Mexicans and others the Texans. While Duwali tried in vain to
persuade the Cherokees to reach a consensus on the matter, the Texans con-
tinually suspected that the chief "was lying, or at least masking his real inten-
tions" (p. 102). In 1839 President Lamar insisted that the Cherokees leave
Texas. When they hesitated, Lamar authorized an attack upon the tribe in
which Duwali and at least one hundred other Cherokees were killed, and the
rest were forced to seek refuge north of the Red River.
The history of the Cherokees in 'Texas is one that has either been neglected
or misinterpreted in the past. This book fills an important gap in the literature
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 95, July 1991 - April, 1992. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117153/. Accessed September 1, 2015.