Kinsearching July 31, 2011




Marleta Childs
P. O. Box 6825
LUBBOCK, TX 79493-6825

     Because genealogical research cannot be separated from the study of past events, many individuals who are attempting to trace Native American ancestors will find helpful background material in EARLY HISTORY OF THE CHEROKEES EMBRACING ABORIGINAL CUSTOMS, RELIGION, LAWS, FOLK LORE, AND CIVILIZATION. Written by noted Cherokee author Emmet Starr, the 2011 edition is transcribed by Jeff Bowen from a rare copy of Starr’s original 1917 work.

     A descendant of grandparents who settled in the Cherokee Nation “West” (Arkansas country) before 1832, Starr grew up listening to “the conversations and reminiscences” of numerous tribal members when they visited his father, who served in several official capacities at various times. These opportunities to hear stories and learn about the culture of tribe instilled an interest which Starr carried into adulthood when he decided to share the information. In his preface, Starr explains that he wanted to describe “phases of Cherokee Indian history that might not be preserved and understood.” Therefore, he concentrates on Cherokee life, culture, self-government, and politics and does not focus on genealogy in this volume.

     He begins with coverage of the origin of the name Cherokee, creation myths, hereditary descent and rights, clans, theory about relationship to other Iroquoian tribes, the Cherokee alphabet invented by Seqouyah (about whom Starr supplies much fascinating data), intermarriage, and land cessions. Then he focuses on religion and the various denominations that established missions and sent missionaries, including the Moravians, the Baptists, Presbyterians, and Methodists.

     Approximately one third of the book concerns the genesis of Cherokee civilization and includes verbatim reproductions of laws enacted by the Western Cherokee Council prior to the Eastern Cherokee exodus from Georgia. In the course of the narrative, he provides some biographical details about such famous Cherokees as John Ross and the Vann and Rogers families. This section includes material about the Texas Cherokees, such as Richard Fields and Chief Bowles, and furnishes the wording of an 1835 treaty made between the tribe and Sam Houston and John Forbes, who represented the Provisional Government of Texas.

     People interested in Native American history and culture will find Starr’s work is fascinating to read. EARLY HISTORY OF THE CHEROKEES EMBRACING ABORIGINAL CUSTOMS, RELIGION, LAWS, FOLK LORE, AND CIVILIZATION will be a valuable addition to library collections.

     The 232-page paperback has a preface by Starr, an introduction by Bowen, portraits of individuals with Cherokee connections, several maps, and separate indexes to illustrations, maps, subjects, and full names. To the book's price of $24.95, buyers should add the cost for postage and handling charges. For U. S. postal mail, the cost is $5.50 for one book and $2.50 for each additional copy; for FedEx ground service, the cost is $7.50 for one copy and $2.50 for each additional book. The volume (item order #9632) may be purchased by check, money order, MasterCard, or Visa from Clearfield Company, 3600 Clipper Mill Rd., Suite 260, Baltimore, Maryland 21211-1953. For phone orders, call toll free 1-800-296-6687; fax 1-410-752-8492; website at

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