This chapter traces the rebuilding of communities by the Shoeboots and other Cherokee families in the West, and the eventual disruption of the American Civil War that decimated Cherokee towns even while emancipating black slaves among Cherokees. The 1850s are often called the “Golden Age” of Cherokee history. In this period after removal and the political turmoil of its immediate aftermath, Cherokees managed to rebuild shining communities in the West, studded with farms, plantations, schools, salt mines, ferries, and mercantile shops. However, an ideological civil war soon erupted in Cherokee country, between pro-Confederate Cherokees and proneutrality Cherokees, who would soon redefine themselves as pro-Unionists. The Cherokee elite who had adopted slavery to demonstrate their level of civilization lost nearly all in their fight to maintain it. Enslaving people of African descent proved a miserable and ineffectual strategy for protecting tribal sovereignty.
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