OPINION: Ambitious new book expertly details Cherokee Nation history

BY BILL JOHN BAKER
Former Principal Chief
10/01/2018 12:00 PM
Three men I deeply admire – the late Drs. Duane King, Dr. Neil Morton and Dr. Bob Blackburn – collaborated to write an engaging new history book called “Cherokee Nation: A History of Survival, Self Determination and Identity.” It is the first book of its kind to have the full support of the Cherokee Nation and the first historic narrative of the tribe that we have self-published.

Cherokees persevere because our values and traditions are deeply rooted in us. They have enabled us to withstand every dark chapter and celebrate every positive milestone throughout time, and today we are stronger than ever before. That history is an important part of who we are as a people, and this book provides an unprecedented opportunity to share our story.

The book will allow readers to appreciate the challenges and opportunities that have shaped the Cherokee Nation, the largest tribal government in the United States. From ancient traditions to forced removal and assimilation to survival and to self-determination, the Cherokee Nation’s strong sense of identity and governance are undeniable.

Accurately telling our history ensures that it is preserved eternally as we pass our story down for future generations of Cherokees.

From our great success as society-builders to the darkest chapters of forced removal, Cherokee Nation’s history is intertwined with the history of the United States. This book details the efforts of our Cherokee leaders who worked tirelessly to ensure our people survived. Those brave men and women preserved our government, our culture and our way of life. It spans more than four centuries and highlights individual leadership, the struggles, the unity and the quest for survival.

Where we came from is an important part of who we are as Cherokees, and this book, detailing the plight of the Cherokee Nation, will have a place in public education and university settings as well as private libraries. It will stand the test of time and will be used in many beneficial ways. There may be familiarity on some level of the Cherokee narrative already, but what these writers and historians have created is as unique as it is authoritative.

The authors have devoted their professional and personal lives to education, to the Cherokee Nation and to northeast Oklahoma. They are Cherokee history experts and are forever considered part of the Cherokee Nation family.

Dr. King, who sadly passed before publication, was the former director of Tulsa’s Gilcrease Museum and formerly worked for the Smithsonian Museum and the Cherokee Heritage Center. Dr. Blackburn is the executive director of the Oklahoma Historical Society and played a critical role in Cherokee Nation’s reacquisition of Sequoyah’s Cabin in 2016. Dr. Morton is lifelong educator in northeast Oklahoma and serves as Cherokee Nation’s education services senior advisor.

I hope you appreciate the book as much as I do, as every Cherokee Nation citizen will. It is our story, and in this volume, it is told correctly.

To purchase a copy of “Cherokee Nation: A History of Survival, Self Determination and Identity,” visit any Cherokee Nation Gift Shop or www.cherokeegiftshop.com.

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