Imperial and Indigenous Geopolitics in the Trans-Appalachian West, 1670–1774
Published by: University of Oklahoma Press
Imprint: University of Oklahoma Press
As Great Britain and France eyed the Illinois country and the Tennessee, Ohio, and Wabash River valleys for their respective empires, the Overhill Cherokees were coalescing and maintaining a conspicuous presence throughout the territory. Contrary to the traditional narrative of westward expansion, the Europeans were not the drivers behind the ensuing contest over the Tennessee corridor. The Overhills traded, negotiated, and fought with other Indigenous peoples along this corridor, in the process setting parameters for European expansion. Through the eighteenth century, the British and French struggled to overcome a dissonance between their visions of empire and the reality of Overhill mobility and sovereignty—a struggle that came to play a crucial role in the Anglo-American revolutionary debate that dominated the 1760s and 1770s.
By emphasizing Indigenous agency in this rapidly changing world, Cherokee Power challenges long-standing ideas about the power and reach of European empires in eighteenth-century North America.
"A stunning book. Kristofer Ray brings together careful research and elegant prose to reveal the pivotal role that the Cherokees played in a changing world. Cherokee Power challenges our assumptions about a crucial period in North American history.”—Gregory Smithers, author of Reclaiming Two-Spirits: Sexuality, Spiritual Renewal, and Sovereignty in Native America
“An impressive expansion of what we know about Indigenous power in the eitghteenth century. Ray re-creates a world in which Cherokees contended with other Native peoples and the French and British for control of much of eastern North America. Ray tells the story with nuance and intriguing detail, challenging our understanding of the course of empire in North America.”—Paul Kelton, author of Cherokee Medicine, Colonial Germs: An Indigenous Nation’s Fight against Smallpox, 1518–1824
“This fascinating account of the Cherokees during the entry of the English and French empires into the American Southeast is foundational in providing a geopolitical context for the challenges Cherokees faced in all directions before the American Revolution.”—Alan Gallay, author of Walter Ralegh: Architect of Empire