On October 30th, President Obama proclaimed November as National Native American Heritage Month.
According to the National Congress of American Indians, Native American Heritage Month “is a time to celebrate rich and diverse cultures, traditions, and histories and to acknowledge the important contributions of Native people. Heritage Month is also an opportune time to educate the general public about tribes, to raise a general awareness about the unique challenges Native people have faced both historically and in the present, and the ways in which tribal citizens have worked to conquer these challenges.”
An example of those challenges took place during the early 1830s, when the Georgia legislature passed laws that nullified existing Cherokee law and government in order to take over Cherokee land and present it to white Georgia farmers through a land grant lottery system. You can read more about the Georgia land lottery system and the Cherokee Removal in the New Georgia Encyclopedia.
In the DLG, the Cecil Haralson Collection from the Smyrna Public Library, and the Cherokee Regional Library System Collection include examples of numerous Cherokee land grants. The Cherokee Indians Relocation Papers collection from our partners at the Georgia Historical Society provides more information about Cherokee displacement and relocation.
The Cherokee Indians Relocation Papers collection consists of correspondence, a power of attorney, and statements by The Rising Fawn and The Flute (or Old Turkey), two Cherokee men. The correspondence includes a letter from Joseph McMill to John C. Calhoun, Secretary of War, regarding the removal of native Americans to Arkansas and to the Agency; another letter from McMinn to Calhoun nominating sites to attract merchants and giving a history of the county and its towns; a letter from John Coffee to John H. Eaton, Secretary of War, regarding the boundary line between Georgia and the Cherokee Nation and commenting on a number of people, including Chief McIntosh, as well as discussing outrageous intrusions on Native American territory and their rights on the frontier; a letter from Wilson Lumpkin written from New Echota, withdrawing his name as a candidate for Electors of President and Vice-President and stating that he cannot serve in this position while acting as Commissioner for settling claims under the Cherokee treaty; and a letter from John Ridge to General Nat. Smith, Superintendent of Internal Revenue, written from New Echota. The Rising Fawn’s statement, 1829, is regarding the boundary line between Creeks and Cherokees. The Flute’s statement delineates the line between the Creeks and Cherokees as agreed upon at the “old treaty ground” in the presence of U.S. Commissioners. The collection also includes two volumes. The first volume is a record of claims, 1836-1838, kept by Wilson Lumpkin and John Kennedy, Commissioners appointed by the President under the Cherokee Treaty. It includes 423 claims made by the Cherokee Indians of property taken from them. The second volume contains an inventory and sale of property belonging to Native Americans in Floyd County, Georgia. Also included in this collection is a Power of Attorney from James Monroe, Secretary of State, to George Graham, giving him power to receipt for dividends and interest on all stocks in the name of the President in trust for the Seneca Indians. It is signed by Monroe and bears the War Office seal.
We hope that you find these resources aid your observance of Native American Heritage Month 2015.
The Digital Library of Georgia remembers Clifford M. Kuhn, associate professor of history at Georgia State University and executive director of the Oral History Association. Kuhn passed away on Sunday, November 8.
Kuhn was a principal staff member of the Living Atlanta radio series, which aired on radio station WRFG, and was funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities. Kuhn interviewed hundreds of Atlantans for this project, which documented the city’s history between World War I and World War II, and covered a wide range of topics such as the history of Atlanta neighborhoods, education, transportation, commerce, the Depression and New Deal, religion, politics, health, and leisure. The project focused intently on confronting Atlanta’s history as a segregated city, and representing the voices of Atlanta’s working-class people. Kuhn then developed the content from these interviews into a book, Living Atlanta: An Oral History of the City, 1914-1948, which he co-authored with Harlon E. Joye and E. Bernard West. The book was published in 1990. More than 150 Living Atlanta interviews conducted by Kuhn are available in the Digital Library of Georgia as part of the Living Atlanta collection.
In 2001, Kuhn published the book Contesting The New South Order: The 1914-1915 Strike at Atlanta’s Fulton Mills. He played a prominent role in the centennial remembrance of the 1906 Atlanta Race Riot, and continued to lead monthly tours of sites in downtown Atlanta that were associated with the riot. In 2008, he served as co-chairperson of the Content Council for the National Center for Civil and Human Rights. Most recently, he was working on a book about sociologist and anti-lynching activist Arthur Raper. Four parts of an interview that Kuhn conducted with Arthur Raper are available as part of Living Atlanta; you can access them here:
Our thoughts are with Dr. Kuhn’s family, friends, and colleagues.