Doctoral Dissertations

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Major Professor

Tricia Redeker-Hepner

Committee Members

Julie L. Reed, Gerald F. Schroedl, Jan F. Simek, Raja Swamy


“Regarding themselves as permanently settled” analyzes displacement and resettlement of four Cherokee regions and sets of communities during the first few decades of the nineteenth century. Instead of parsing out various Cherokee removal episodes of the period, this dissertation moves across time and space to foreground the human experiences as expressed by the displaced Cherokees themselves. Instead of utilizing a framework of Euro-American removal tactics to compartmentalize, marginalize and silence tribal agency throughout displacement episodes, what were the social elements of individual and collective networks utilized to navigate removal, and subsequent responses to newly constituted social networks when forming new communities in a post-displacement setting. I foreground existing tribal culturally grounded manifestations of self-determination to understand the importance of family and kin during times of isolation and stress, a process I refer to as hyper-displacement. Additionally, this dissertation emphasizes the uniquely centered Cherokee cultural components of tohi (balance, or walking the correct way, the open way), and osi (life in a good state) within larger discourses surrounding the normalization of violence experienced by indigenous populations throughout the early establishment of federal Indian policy.My main data-sets were collections of sworn affidavits, depositions, memorials, and spoliation claims presented by individual Cherokees over a twenty-year period. Most often these data-sets were presented by Cherokees seeking monetary recompense of their removal from homes and farms to the very federal agents who had legislatively, economically and forcibly removed them. The application of an ethnohistorical ethnographic approach to these archival materials, what I call archival participant observation, emphasizes new perspectives to analyze Cherokee towns not necessarily just predicated on a specific location, but as organically interconnected networks of mutual aid and fellowship. While this dissertation is grounded in a nineteenth century Cherokee perspective of displacement and post-displacement community construction, it provides insight to understand the wider implications of how individuals and communities navigate displacement. This dissertation illustrates that sometimes all we have are our social and familial networks, and the lengths people centralize them following displacement.


This dissertation has been submitted for review.

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