As the fever of independence was growing amongst the colonists of North America, so was the fever of expansion. In the late eighteenth century, the Cherokee found themselves in a perpetual struggle to hang on to their ancestral lands while trying to deal with and appease their long-time trading partners, the British. When the colonists declared their independence and went to war against Britain, the Cherokee were faced with a no-win decision. Should they side with the colonists who were blatantly stealing their land or side with the British who they had a trade agreement with? They chose to honor their agreement and side with the British.
Over the centuries, since the Cherokee people’s first contact with Europeans, there have been many attempts to preserve the pre-Columbian culture. It seems that the more passionate attempts met with the most tragic demise while the more casual and indirect acquaintances have survived. I point to the encounters and reports by European adventurers, traders, priests or ethnographers whose works, notes, and books have successfully preserved hints of the culture, albeit from a foreign perspective. James Adair is a prime example.
The sky is the flyway of the bird, whose freedom is to light and go at will … . When evening shadows fall upon the earth and a lone jet cuts the puffy clouds with straight lines, it does not bother the birds. They chirp and murmur night sounds and settle down to sleep. We forget and think we are all there is. –Joyce Sequichie Hifler (A Cherokee Feast of Days, Volume 2)
In most of the stories involving the rabbit, the Cherokee portrayed them as clever, devious, and the penultimate trickster. The Cherokee rabbit fables are so similar to the “Uncle Remus” and “Brer Rabbit” fables, that I think they must be connected. [refer to my article: Tar Baby vs Tar Wolf]