Early History of the Cherokees

Aboriginal Customs, Religion, Laws, Folk Lore, and Civilization


Author: Starr, Emmet, Transcribed by Jeff Bowen
Publication Date: 1917
Reprint Date: 2011
Pages: vi 232 pp.


Unlike Emmet Starr’s better known and much longer History of the Cherokee Indians (originally published in 1921), this 1917 work focuses on Cherokee life, culture, politics, and self-governance, not genealogy and biography. Mr. Starr, whose grandparents had settled in the Cherokee Nation “West” (Arkansas Country) by 1832, explained in his preface to the book that, with this volume, he strived to “present many of the phases of Cherokee Indian history that might not be preserved and understood.” Transcribed by Cherokee expert Jeff Bowen from a very scarce copy of the 1917 edition, Early History of the Cherokees commences with coverage of the origin of the Cherokee name, religion and creation myths, alphabet, poetry, and related topics. The author devotes about a third of the work to verbatim descriptions of laws enacted by the Western Cherokee Council prior to the Eastern Cherokee exodus from Georgia. He has included the wording of a treaty between Texas and Texas Cherokees. Mr. Starr also devotes a great deal of space to the various missionary groups and churches that worked with the Cherokee. The book is not completely devoid of historical commentary, when one considers the discussion of the legendary 18th-century Cherokee figures Charles Hicks and Sequoyah (George Guess) and their 19th-century counterpart John Ross, as well as others. All of these historical personages and more can be found in the 1,000 person name index at the back of the volume.

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