With the Indian Removal Act of 1830, the Choctaw people began their journey over the Trail of Tears from their homelands in Mississippi to the new lands of the Choctaw Nation. Suffering a death rate of nearly 20 percent due to exposure, disease, mismanagement, and fraud, they limped into Indian Territory, or, as they knew it, the Land of the Dead (the route taken by the souls of Choctaw people after death on their way to the Choctaw afterlife). Their first few years in the new nation affirmed their name for the land, as hundreds more died from whooping cough, floods, starvation, cholera, and smallpox.
Living in the Land of Death depicts the story of Choctaw survival, and the evolution of the Choctaw people in their new environment. Culturally, over time, their adaptation was one of homesteads and agriculture, eventually making them self-sufficient in the rich new lands of Indian territory. Along the Red River and other major waterways, several Choctaw families of mixed heritage built plantations, and imported large crews of slave labor to work cotton fields. They developed a sub-economy based on interaction with the world market. However, the vast majority of Choctaws continued with their traditional subsistence economy that was easily adapted to their new environment.
The immigrant Choctaws did not, however, move into land that was vacant. The U.S. government, through many questionable and some outright corrupt extralegal maneuvers, chose to believe it had gained title through negotiations with some of the peoples whose homelands and hunting grounds formed Indian Territory. Many of these indigenous peoples reacted furiously to the incursion of the Choctaws onto their rightful lands. They threatened and attacked the Choctaws and other immigrant Indian Nations for years.
"With graceful writing, Akers beautifully seamlessly incorporates Choctaw language and worldview into her analysis and announces herself as an important new indigenous voice in historical scholarship." (Journal of Indigenous Nations Studies)
"Akers, a member of the Choctaw Nation, clearly posits that she is providing an "insider's" perspective and intends to show that Choctaw culture survived the juggernaut of assimiliation… She achieved her objective in a commendable fashion… a balanced and readable account." (Journal of the West)
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Very Dry History of the Choctaw
I liked the origination story of the Choctaw people. I had never heard it. I find it intriguing that traveling for 43 years to a sacred forever home is part of their origination tale. It is unusual in that the actual origin is unknown or not considered important enough to pass down. There were many interesting details in this story. One comes to know them well because they are reiterated more than once. This detracts from the story.
Some aspects of the history are fascinating. The U.S. strategy of getting Choctaw leaders into debt and then trading debt forgiveness for land was new to me. The 53 minute introduction was a critique of other historical treatments of the Choctaw nation. While it is important material, it needed an editor. It could have been covered in half the time. This is the definition of extreme academic padding.
Not unless she was on crack. The narrator has a relaxed voice and gives an insipid delivery of a very repetitive book. The audio quality was good and she reads accurately, but the combination of the repetitive material and her calm, slightly monotonous voice kept putting me to sleep.
Yes, it represents a little know area of history and some parts of it are very interesting.
I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.
Living in the land of Death