WCU professors publish historical Cherokee writings

Three professors from Western Carolina University who co-edited a work of collected historical writings about the Cherokee will sign copies of the book from 2-5 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 18, in the Education and Research Center of the Museum of the Cherokee Indian in Cherokee.

William L. Anderson, history professor emeritus; Jane L. Brown, instructor of anthropology; and Anne F. Rogers, professor of anthropology, edited “The Payne-Butrick Papers.”

The annotated, two-volume set is available at the museum gift shop for $150.

Published recently by the University of Nebraska Press, the work is a collection of writings about the Cherokee from the 1830s, when John Howard Payne, an author, actor and playwright, and missionary Daniel S. Butrick, gathered information on Cherokee life and history, fearing that the cultural knowledge would be lost during the impending forced removal west. Butrick, who was a Baptist minister, lived with the Cherokees for a number of years and accompanied them when they were taken on the Trail of Tears.

Prior to the published version, the papers were available to researchers in a typescript that contained a number of errors, or by traveling to Chicago to read the original manuscript archived in the Newberry Library there, Rogers said. “The material is valuable because it provides information not only about the political and economic aspects of Cherokee life at that time, but gives insight into ceremonial practices, traditional beliefs and other components of their traditional culture,” she said.

The work is part of the Indians of the Southeast Series, which also includes “Demanding the Cherokee Nation,” a work by WCU associate professor of history Andrew Denson that examines 19th-century Cherokee political rhetoric to addresses the contradiction between the sovereignty of Indian nations and the political weakness of Indian communities.

For more information about the signing, contact Joyce Cooper, membership manager at the Museum of the Cherokee Indian, at 828.497.3481, extension 305.

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