“Our Share of Land”: The Cherokee Nation, the Federal Government and the Citizenship Status of the Freedpeople, 1866-1907

Bawden, Amanda (2016) “Our Share of Land”: The Cherokee Nation, the Federal Government and the Citizenship Status of the Freedpeople, 1866-1907. Doctoral thesis, University of East Anglia.

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This thesis explores the debates surrounding the status of Cherokee freedpeople in the final
four decades of the nineteenth century. Despite being granted full citizenship in the 1866
Reconstruction Treaty signed by the United States and the Cherokee Nation in 1866, the
nature of these rights remained constantly under debate as the Cherokee Nation attempted
to limit their obligation to freedpeople. In contrast, the federal government insisted
freedpeople and their descendants be awarded the full rights of Cherokee citizens. Repeated
federal intervention on behalf of Cherokee freedpeople led to jurisdictional disputes and
tensions between the two nations as the Cherokee Nation insisted that they held final
authority over the boundaries of its citizenry and the nature of citizenship awarded to
freedpeople. Scholars have questioned the apparent polarity between the equal rights of
freedmen and Cherokee sovereignty and, in 2013, Barbara Krauthamer identified the
necessity of exploring how these two concerns became constructed as oppositional. In the
twenty-first century, high profile legal battles over the exclusion of individuals descended
from freedpeople from the Cherokee Nation have highlighted the lasting importance of this
This thesis builds on previous research by reconsidering how Cherokee freedpeople pushed
for full and equal inclusion in the forty years following their emancipation. It argues that
Cherokee freedpeople were not pawns in the disputes between the Cherokee Nation and
the United States. Instead, freedpeople were active agents who exploited the differing
interpretations of citizenship held by Cherokee and federal officials to secure their own
interests. Furthermore, this thesis argues that the federal government only supported
Cherokee freedpeople when it served their larger agenda of damaging the sovereignty of the
Cherokee Nation.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > School of American Studies (former - to 2014)
Depositing User: Jackie Webb
Date Deposited: 29 Jun 2017 15:41
Last Modified: 30 Sep 2019 00:38
URI: https://ueaeprints.uea.ac.uk/id/eprint/63983


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