Indians of North America Series: The Cherokee. Edited film documents the history of the Cherokee American Indians since the arrival of European settlers in North America. Emphasis is placed on the Cherokee language, literacy and education, effects of settlers on Cherokee culture and lifeways, life on the reservation, and conflicts with the Unites States government over land rights. Film follows the fissioning of the factions of Cherokee tribes into the western Cherokees of Oklahoma and the eastern Cherokees of North Carolina and Georgia until their ultimate unification and creation of the Cherokee Nation in 1839. Featured is Secoya, the inventor of the Cherokee written language which was disseminated throughout the tribe, insuring the literacy of most Cherokees within one generation. This began a tradition of education and literacy which would later establish the Cherokees as the first tribe to write a tribal newspaper, "The Cherokee Phoenix," and to establish two high schools in 1851, one of which was for women. Film addresses the impact of government land policies such as the 1887 Dawes Act, allotting land to individuals rather than to the tribe; the 1830 Indian Removal Act, forcing Indians to relocate and resettle on land west of the Mississippi, including the forced migration known as the Trail of Tears. Footage sequences include: Cherokee council houses; open plazas for social, political and religious events; homes made from a framework of wooden beams sealed with mud plaster; black and white government films recruiting Indian laborors to the city; interviews with Cherokee elders and youths.
Human Studies Film Archives, Smithsonian Museum Support Center, Suitland, MD